My Observations about Memorization and Fast Recall

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#1 28 October, 2016 - 00:25
Joined: 2 years 3 months ago

My Observations about Memorization and Fast Recall

I'm a high school student who is taking a couple AP classes,and as such, there's quite a bit of memorization which I have to do. Usuallythis is all last minute, so most of my experience with memorization is day 1:review day 2: memorize day 3: test.


It's a pretty harsh schedule so I've been experimenting withways to make my life easier.


Baseline: my baseline is with

#1: AP biology exams

#2: AP environmental science


AP Biology (AP Bio) exams are heavily analysis based, with only some pure memorization parts.

AP Environmental Science (APES) is almost all memorization, with a few light analysis questions.


This provides me with a wide range of testing scenarios to try different memorization strategies against.

My baseline for evaluating the memorization strategies wasevaluating the amount of time and effort I had to spend to memorize thematerial. Effort being how focused I had to be. I found that for both AP Bio and APES, I did very well with parts which were built on logic, however I did poorly in comparison for parts which I was required to memorize a list and write it back. Overall I excelled in multiple choice sections where I could reason out various answers using the knowledge which I had retained, but didn'tdo as well for free response which I was required to recall all the bits of information and then write it down making sure I didn't miss a single part.

My baseline memorization strategy is like this: I will read the textbook, and visualize whatever the concept is until I can 'play it back' in my head like an animation.

Eg: the plasma membrane cell organelle

1. visualize a phospholipid bilayer, especially how it reacts to agitated fluid around it
2. visualize the extracellular and intracellular fluid (empty for now)
3. add in the transport proteins which have various functions and animate them
4. add in peripheral proteins and animate how they move around
5. finally, add in various molecules to intracellular and extracellular fluid

After doing all this (about 2.5 minutes), I have it memorized enough to only refresh it after 2 or 3 days

The 1st thing I tried was a standard memory palace, and attach almost every piece of information which I learned into the memory palaces.I quickly noticed that I was running out of memory palaces to put things in! Itseemed as if I could actively recall about 10 places which I had gone, whichresulted in me overwriting and also creating some convoluted paths which oftenblurred together the next day. Even so, I felt like it was quite helpful inlist memorization as it gave me an easy way to recall things which occurredstep by step.


Pure memory palace:

- Advantages:
- Helps with step memorization
- Hard to forget once memorized
- Location based - can have palace in test taking place
- Disadvantages:
- Long time necessary to memorize - I spend the same time and oftentimes forget the picture I was imagining the next day....
- Few possible locations - I don't go out enough to have a database of which I can store 40-50 new items per day.

Onto iteration 2: linked lists and memory palaces

After trying out memory palaces, I felt like I had made some progress in getting more efficiently memorizing all my AP content. I then added linked lists to try and resolve the issue of not having enough memory palaces to put things in. Here's an example of one:

Memory Palace: bedroom

- location 1: door
- Item: myself
- Linked list: person -> hypothalamus -> pituitary -> hormone -> ligand -> signal transport

This dramatically increased the number of items I could memorize at a time, because linked lists were much easier to visualize and create something memorable out of. However, I found that if I forgot a single link in my linked lists, then I would be unable to recall the rest of the content I had attached to the linked list. One thing to note is that in terms of content, memorizing items concept-wise was still much faster than using a memory palace or a linked list.

Memory Palace with Linked Lists


- Fast for memorization where order matters
- Relatively fast for harder to memorize concepts
- Expanded capacity - allows me to store more items in a single palace


- Still not fast enough for general use
- Hard to remember my journey
- Links are 'fragile' - die out after a day

As of right now, I am researching my next iteration, particularly focusing in on improving my memory palace item placing speed, the amount of memory palaces I have, and also how to make the journeys and palaces I have stick. Feedback and comments are appreciated. Hope this was helpful :)

10 January, 2017 - 07:58
Joined: 10 months 3 weeks ago

Thank you. That's the type of 'debriefing' i'm searching to complete my personal work on memory.

Don't forget 'tranversal' memory, or 'aura' Learning. When you work on a subject that touch several objetc you have to memorize, you reinforce them, and you also reinforce the subjetcs 'between' them.

Because you are transforming your 'episodic memory' into 'true' long term memory.

Note episodic memory = the main trick we use. We link some items to artificial events, places etc, by making them artificially meaningful, noticeable, remarkable etc.

It fades away with time, exept if we use repetition, and/or it makes real sense to our reference system.

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