Techniques for learning highly analytical subject matter

New to the world of memory and rapid learning, and am VERY excited to find this community here !

What techniques are you using to rapidly learn, retain, and recall subjects like Mathematics, Engineering, Computer Science, and Physics, etc.? I am interested in knowing about your (speed/active) reading, comprehending, summarizing, visualizing (aka Mind Map or anything else, if applicable), and of course, memorizing techniques.

Also would like to know any additional tools you use (software?). I see Anki, SuperMemo etc. being mentioned several times, so was just curious. I have so far just stuck to paper and pencil :slight_smile:

I know that this is a very broad topic indeed, but am putting it out there just to see what comes up :slight_smile:

Thanks in advance and I am looking forward to hearing from folks here !


Id pick up one of the well rated memory books on amazon and read the starter guide here for a base line.

For quick benefit I would get decent at two things to keep this post brief. Coming up with number visual system for at least 0-100 using your technique of choice and getting strong at making abstract terms and ideas into images to help you remember them.

Otherwise I am not sure since I only took two physics and a few math classes back before I used these techniques. But for MCAT studying I used the above to help memorize formulas but then again the math you speak of is probably a lot more intense than MCAT math

I am sure a few of the math people on this site will chime in soon, good luck


Thanks for your reply and suggestions.

I have bought and skimmed through one book each of Harry Lorayne and Dominic O’Brien. I have the Memory Palace and the Link methods locked down, though haven’t practiced much. I am currently also skimming Ramon Campayo’s book. It has some very interesting speed reading drills, and a study system.

The key challenge for me is to combine these powerful techniques, viz. speed/rapid reading, memory techniques, etc. etc. into a comprehensive learning system or a philosophy. I feel like I have been given the pieces of a gigantic puzzle, and don’t know how to put them together.

I was wondering if anyone else (@Josh? @LynneKelly?) had any further thoughts on my queries. Basically I need a way to translate these abstract ideas into concrete working solutions.

Hi Mailandy,

I have a lot of ideas, but they include the memory palaces but also a great deal of other techniques. I could write an entire book on this topic (and have) which is why I can’t answer here. My new book Memory Craft has lots of techniques which differs from those in the books and technologies that you mention. My background is engineering, physics, IT, teaching … but your question is too broad for me. It would depend on what type of information specifically, and I would likely combine a range of techniques. The tools I use are rarely computer based. There are a huge swag of mnemonic devices in other formats.

I am flat out with the overwhelming reaction to Memory Craft, which is out of stock in its first week and already gone to reprint. Tag me again in a few weeks, when my life will settle down, if you have specific questions about specific techniques for particular knowledge genres.

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@LynneKelly Thank you so much for your reply Lynn. I am delighted to hear from you ! Yes, you are right in that I need to be more specific. I am myself doing some readings at my end and going through the forum in detail. I think in a few days once I have made more progress, I will break down my question into small pieces and ask separately.

On a side note, I am looking forward to receiving your book. I am based in the US, but traveling in Asia these days, and your book is not to be found anywhere thus far :sob:. I will keep trying my luck though.

I’m eager to hear what Lynne will add to this conversation once she’s got a moment to breathe…

The thing that’s kept me from responding earlier was your emphasis on speed. I don’t have any experience at all with trying to learn something quickly. (I’ve been out of school for decades.) But after reading a number of books by memory competitors, who do need to memorize some things very quickly, I think the biggest aid might come from taking the time to review your material. Regularly.

I know some like software for that. I don’t see the point, personally. Just mentally walk your journeys on a regular basis. Or sit down with pen and paper (or keyboard and screen) and test yourself. You’ll need to keep a file or journal or list (or whatever) of what it is you’re memorizing, so you can check your progress down the road. But however you do it, I think checking/reviewing is absolutely essential.


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There is a recent book exploiting the memory palace idea using art as anchors. It is designed for magicians who memorize a fixed order for a deck of cards. Why they do this is yet unknown. The book is David Trustman - The Memory Arts and boasts that the system can be reworked to learn anything you wish. If fact there are different editions or patches that work for different memorized decks. The idea is that each large format page colorfully relates the story and its background information in an unforgettable way. These are related with mind maps and all. I can strongly recommend this and could even find you a better price on it if you have no luck elsewhere. Send a message.

More importantly on your subject. I studied as you are now looking to memorize formulas and equations. PV = nRT for instance. Currently I am trying to learn new programming languages. I can tell you from experience the only way to get these into your head properly is to use them at great length. I must write programs, lots of typing, to get the concepts to flow form my fingertips. The same with formulas and equations. Work many, many problems where they are used. In any textbook there are only so many possible problems using such things. You can find them, list them and master them with some work. Then none will ever threaten you. All pressure volume problems, all acceleration problems etc. These are called problem sets. Compare the same subject in different text books and you will see the common thread.

I still remember the equation for the force of a charged particle even though there is no mnemonic. I’ve just used it so much.

Also recall, the mnemonic is just a tool. What it is used to bring you will eventually come of its own based on your use of it. Unless you are trying to keep Pi to 150 places or all the names in the phone book in your head. For me having a number for each word I can find is a neat hobby. In a test there are no points for knowing the equations. Only for knowing which one to use and how. In third semester calculus we were allowed to bring in 3 x 5 cards with as many formulas as we wanted. A nice safety blanket but little help. Not much use unless it was for the arc-hyperbolic tangent. The only tests I aced were those where the formula needed was in my bones, not my head.

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