Feature: From the School House

Hack Your Memory to Memorize SAT and GRE Vocabulary Words

Author: Anthony-James Green
Published: March 26, 2012 at 9:13 pm
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When it comes to memorizing SAT or GRE vocabulary words, nothing is more important than understanding how your memory works. If you can unlock the secrets of your own memory, you’ll easily be able to memorize thousands of SAT or GRE vocabulary words (or anything else, for that matter) in far less time with far less effort.

A lot of people think of their memory like a box. You put a memory in, then take it out when you need it. The memory you drop in is exactly the same as the memory you take out. Unfortunately, this simply isn’t the case. The second you put a fact, story, or idea in your memory, your brain starts to alter it in ways you can’t even imagine.

Your brain isn’t a “storage box” - it’s a network. Humans are so intelligent because we can CONNECT ideas quickly. Your brain takes everything you know and connects it with everything else you know, which is what allows you to access information quickly, make analogies, and have creative ideas. In fact, “creativity” is simply the connecting of two previously unrelated concepts in a novel way (almost any brilliant invention you can think of is simply the merging of two previously unrelated ideas).

Instead of thinking about your brain like a closet, start thinking about it like you do the internet. What makes the internet so incredible isn’t any single page on the internet - it’s the CONNECTION of these pages to each other. When all of these different pages connect, along with all the ideas, facts, and knowledge within them, something revolutionary and incredible is formed. The same thing goes for your brain - the more aggressively you CONNECT your knowledge, the better your memory will be.

This is the entire science behind the discipline known as “mnemonics” - devices intended to aid memory by enhancing the connections between seemingly disparate concepts. Great speech makers of the past would have to deliver thousands of line of prose from memory - to aid them in doing so, they’d create multi-sensory “mental maps” to help them memorize the information. For instance, if they had to deliver a line about increased taxes, then a line about home security, then an analogy about Caesar and a lion, they’d imagine the following scene:

“A man is in front of his house. He’s crying, because burglars are stealing piles of gold from his front lawn. These burglars are dressed like tax collectors. Suddenly, something scares them away. They flee from the house, which surrounds itself in a giant cage, becoming ever more secure. Then the man looks to see what has scared the tax man away - it’s Caesar, riding a lion and chasing them off into the sunset.”

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Article Author: Anthony-James Green

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