New member: Fabien from Zurich, Switzerland


I’m a 43yo mechanical engineer originally from France. It’s nice to join, as I am new to memory techniques and enjoyed reading ther ebook, learning about the major system and the rhymes for example.
I am joining because I would like to improve my memory in general. While taking some memory tests, I figured I have a lot of room for improvement!

2 tests in particular are challenging to me at the moment:

Spoken digits lists
The test consists in a list of random spoken one digit numbers. Once the speaker is done reading through the list at rate greater than 1 digit per second, I need to repeat as many digits as I can remember, starting from the last one in reverse order. Then it’s on to the next random list for a total of 30 lists to listen to and repeat in reverse order.
The challenge is that the list can be quite long e.g. 20 digits, with random length and of course digit sequence.
The techniques I have been using are:

  • trying to visualise the digits on a keyboard numerical keypad
  • remembering series of three digits. Usually I can only remember the last two series before ‘erasing the older one’
    My score is stuck at about 5 last digits and I would like to improve.

2 numbers-shape association
My second challenge consists in memorising two digits numbers associated with either a geometrical shape or a two letters code.
e.g. red triangle 44; ZD 38; green disc 57; blue square 21, WT 11.
I have 25 seconds to memorise 4 pairs and then once presented with previous shape or two letters code I need to provide the associated number.
I came up with a mixed method consisting in
-images associated to the two letter codes–i don’t think i need to make images to replace the shapes since they are already quite visual
-images associated to the two digit number–I use a mix of major system and mental palace consisting of a map of France (France is divided in 95 ‘departments’ e.g. administrative districts, which é digit numbers and names I happen to know by heart).
-I then try to make little stories linking the shape /two letter code with the image corresonding to the digits. e.g. RB-32 would become in my mind ’ Rambo is hiding in Gers’ (Gers department is #32)
Out of 15 such pairs, I usually remember about half and I would like to improve.

Thanks a lot for any tip you may have to help me make some progress with these challenges!



Welcome to the site! :slight_smile:

It sounds like you might be looking for a number memorization system along with memory palaces.

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out the free ebook for a quick intro, and then go through the getting started guide.

You could make a fixed image for each 2-letter pair (if they are completely random).


  • ZD — the first thing that comes to mind is “zed” (last letter of the English alphabet, because it’s pronounced differently here in the US).
  • WT — the first thing that comes to mind is a website called WikiTribune Social (

If you have an image ready for each of the 676 letter pairs, and a number system for 00-99, you would have about 3 seconds to memorize each mnemonic image, which should be plenty of time.

Here are some more links:


Thank you Josh, your suggestions and reading material are very helpful and I could improve my score already. Much appreciated!

For both tests, my biggest challenge is to come up with a super fast number system because I’m too slow memorising and the pictures aren’t vivid enough.

Two specific questions regarding my second test (geometrical shape-number or two letter-number):
1-I’m often too slow for the allotted memorisation time. Should I stick with my ‘french department’ mapping system or switch gear to something better?
Indeed, my initial idea to mentally place on the map of the French ‘departements’ (think of department as the equivalent of the 50 States in the US) the different geometrical shapes or two-letter codes is plateauing, because departments are too abstract to me and I struggle with time to build a vivid mental association between the shape/two letter code and the department. So I’m considering switching to the major system for 01-99 instead of French departments and get rid of this map technique all together.
2-If I drop the ‘french department’ mapping, do you recommend a hard coded number system or one made up on the spot, based on most relevant single digit association?
Do you recommend coming up on the spot with a major system word that kind of make the most sense with the shape/two letters or go brute force learning the major system word that never changes?
e.g. ‘triangle shape - 33’ could become a chubby triangular mom image which works well; However if in another session I receive say ‘blue ellipse shape - 33’ instead of mom perhaps on the fly I picture a blue whale (blue ellipse looks like a whale, which is a MaMal).

I’m trying to understand what’s in store for my progression. Whether my technique isn’t powerful enough or whether I need to stick to it and simply practice to get faster.

Thanks a lot for any pointer.

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Sorry, I should have thought about that part more before replying. I don’t think that system would work well for me, but different people have different hooks in their brains. If it looks like it’s going to be fast enough for your goals, then stick with it. :slight_smile:

It’s hard to go wrong with the major system. The shaper system is also interesting, because it removes the step of converting digits to sounds or letters. There’s a time investment with creating systems, but you can then use them for other things in life later.

I suspect that one fixed image per thing (2-digit number, shape, letter pair) would produce the best results, but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily hard or impossible to do it with the method you’re mentioning. Memory techniques are refined by competitions, and the fastest memorizers are basically using the same technique of assigning fixed images to 2- or 3-digit numbers. It isn’t the only technique though. Other people here might stop by with other ideas.

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