Numeric and Alpha-numeric Drills - HELP!

(Amanda ) #1

Hello Everyone!

To preface: I am not very good with numbers, to begin with, and I have struggled with short-term memory my entire life. Despite this shortcoming, I have managed to get by relatively well – graduated with top marks from university, successful in work, etc.

In the last few years, however, I found myself becoming increasingly bored in my job and decided it was time to make a career change. Based on my degree in criminology and a general desire to help people I began researching potentially becoming a 9-1-1 call taker/dispatcher. In my country, this position is in high demand and comes with a pretty good salary and benefits.

So I enrolled in a college certificate program in emergency dispatching and graduated in the top of my class. I excelled at everything within the course, except for one thing, recalling alphanumeric sequences quickly…or, rather instantly.

I am not particularly concerned with this in terms of my overall ability to perform the job since in class we spent quite a bit of time taking mock emergency calls and I had very little difficulty being able to submit addresses, licence plate numbers, etc., as they were being given to me, because I could type them out as they were being communicated.

The issue I am having is, now that I have graduated and want to apply for jobs, I know that I will have to pass an aptitude test that will measure my short term memory of both numeric and alphanumeric sequences. During the test, random sequences are given such as 74J9BL0F and you are not able to type them back until the entire sequence has been read.

During school, we were able to type these sequences as they were being read, which wasn’t a problem. But now that I am practising to write the test in order to be eligible for an interview, I am freaking out a little bit because I am having tremendous difficulty recalling these sequences after they have been read in competition.

This is what has led me to this forum. Based on reading several of the previous posts, I am sure this would be a rather easy task for so many of you. TBH, I am in awe of many of you and your accomplishments in memory recall.

So my question is, for a complete newbie in memorization techniques, what specific techniques would you recommend to be able to master this. Or, any other advice, at all, would be helpful.

This is the only thing that is holding me back and I would hate it if it kept me from being able to embark on a new career that I know I would be great at and already have a really strong grasp on all the other job requirements.

Thank you kindly,

(Josh Cohen) #2

Welcome to the site! :slight_smile:

Are the sequences always 8 numbers and letters in length? Are they completely random?


…and they consist of letters, numbers, both upper- and lower-case?


One method I use for short-term memory of numeric sequences (for example, when typing into a website) is to express it as a sequence of 2-digit peg words (which I have previously memorized).

For example 5926535897 is “lip notch loom lava book”. Much easier to hold in the mind for a few seconds.

(Amanda ) #5

Thank you for the reply! The sequences are both numeric and alphanumeric and they are not always 8 digits in length. Typically, they are a minimum of 6 and a maximum of 10. And, yes, they are completely random.

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(Amanda ) #6

The sequences are both numeric and alphanumeric and are always upper-case.

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(Amanda ) #7

Thank you for the advice. I am only just beginning to play around with peg words. I have started with a list of 0-9. Like I said in my original post, I am very new to these memorization techniques, so it is way too early to see if they are working. For my peg words (0-9) I have used famous people, which may seem somewhat lame, although I was finding it easier to remember famous faces than abstract words (i.e., lip, notch, etc.). I am not sure whether using people is generally recommended for memorization techniques, but it was the easiest way for me to remember them.

To memorize my peg words (or people), I have been just writing out a bunch of random numeric sequences and then going back and writing out the people associated with each number. I have had no problem doing this little exercise on my own, which I thought would be helpful for the test. However, I downloaded a simulation of the actual test that I will be taking when I apply, and I am still freezing when I go to type in my answers.

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The short-term and long-term methods are somewhat different. For short term, the key is to pack as much information into one syllable as possible. I think it’s preferable if the syllable means something, but there are techniques that rely on nonsense syllables. So I would rather use simple words than names of persons.

There is also little advantage in using a peg for a single symbol. The point being to reduce the number of items you have to keep in mind.

I would suggest starting with a focus on numeric sequences, with peg words for each pair of digits. There are plenty of lists of peg words 1-100 floating around. You might want to augment these with pegs for 00, 01, 02…09. (as opposed to just 1…9). The time investment in memorizing the 100 peg words is well worth it.

(Amanda ) #9

Thank you so much for your advice. This makes a lot of sense.

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I have found that any (memory) practice will be helpful in terms of strengthening all of your abilities. Happy side effect of effort, I guess. By this I mean, for example, that memorizing the “phonetic alphabet” (1=D/T, 2 = S, 3 = M, etc) will create like a mental platform that you can add upon, and I can 100% assure you that you will see benefits if you practice with some regularity. I also recommend reading about memory/reading memory improvement books. Your brain will start working “in the background” on making connections. I routinely write out (by hand, I think is better than keyboard/digital) numbers/letters and connect them with things. And I rehearse very frequently. I’ve got a person for all the cards in a standard, 52-card deck, and I’ve created flashcards for a 00-99 system. Also I listen to speeches, print them out, and try to recite them. Repetition is important. It really is possible to improve immensely if you put your mind to it. I am living proof, I suffered a TBI and had an unbelievably bad short-term memory for a long time. It’s still not great, but I can tell that constant practice does pay off immensely. Good luck! :grin: Happy New Year: What Are your Goals for 2019?

(Amanda ) #11

Thank you so much for your optimism and encouragement.

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