Memory Tricks Resource Center
Using mnemonics to remember the answers to the review questions
I. Quick guide to mnemonic devices (memory aids or tricks)
On every exam, I put review questions, which are meant to get you to think about the most important concepts we learn in the course. While most students find these questions fairly easyâ€”after all, I provide a list of the review questions from which Mr. Computer chooses the test questionsâ€”some students find them troublesome.
If you are one of those students for whom memorization is difficult, I suggest you use some mnemonic devicesâ€”better known as â€œmemory aids.â€ For example, when you were young, you probably learned spelling tips by means of a rhyming mnemonic:
“i” before “e” except after “c”
or when sounding like “a”
as in “neighbor” and “weigh.”
Common mnemonics include name mnemonics, word mnemonics, acronym (or letter) mnemonics, rhyming mnemonics, image mnemonics, connection mnemonics, music mnemonics, and diagram mnemonics.
Letâ€™s look at a few examples. One of the review questions on the list for the first exam is, â€œDefine: deductive validity; inductive strength.â€ A second question is â€œDefine: fallacy; sound.â€ You can remember both by remembering a simple diagram (see MT p. 73)
You can then remember the definitions. Valid = it is 100% certain that if the premises were true, the conclusion would be true. (A valid argument may or may not be sound: it is sound if it is valid and the premises are in fact true.) Strong = it is not 100% certain but it is probable (more that 50% likely) that if the premises were true, the conclusion would be true. Fallacy = an argument that is neither valid nor strong = an argument where it isnâ€™t even probable that if the premises were true, the conclusion would be true.
Now, for the second midterm and the final, some of the questions will call for remembering rules or criteria for assessing various types of inductive reasoning. Here, acronyms mnemonics may help. For example, on the list of review questions for the second test is, â€œIdentify the 5 factors or criteria for assessing eyewitness testimony.â€ You could just keep in mind the letters â€œCPCPC,â€ or the silly sentence â€œCritical people criticize people constantly.â€ You can then just fill in the criteria:
Credibility of witness;
Position of witness;
Consistency of testimony;
Plausibility of testimony;
Again, for the final exam, one of the review questions is, â€œWhat are the criteria for logical or reasonable advertising.â€ You could use a name mnemonic, like â€œStorminâ€™ Norman Corman,â€ to remember the letters â€œSNCâ€. You can then write on the test:
Superiority of the product;
Need for the product;
Cost of the product.
Images or pictures are also useful. For example, one of the review questions for the final exam is, â€œWhat is a simple cause? What is a compound cause?â€ The following picture might help:
This makes it visually clear that a compound cause has components that work together to produce the effect, whereas a simple cause has no components to it.
You can invent clever, amusing, or even obscene names, phrases or acronyms to help your memory. (Donâ€™t put any of the obscene ones on the testâ€”Iâ€™m a sensitive guy who shocks easily!) The letters alone wonâ€™t do, of courseâ€”you need sentences or sentence fragments that make the answer clear. But whatever helps you remember the information is fair game.
Review questions are truly â€œno brainers.â€ There is absolutely no reason every one of you shouldnâ€™t get them all perfectly correct.
II. Internet sources for learning about memory devices
A. Good written sites explaining mnemonics are:
B. Good lectures on mnemonics are:
- Iris Reading webinar on mnemonic devicesâ€¦video.
- Long Beach City College lecture on memory tricksâ€¦lecture 1 video.
- Long Beach City College lecture on memory tricksâ€¦lecture 2video.
- Long Beach City College lecture on memory tricksâ€¦lecture 3 video.