Improving Retrieval of Memories: Mnemonic Devices Video

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Retrieving Long-Term Memories: Interference, Amnesia & State-Dependent Memory

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 1:16 Chunking
  • 1:56 Acronyms
  • 2:41 Acrostic Method
  • 3:43 Keyword Technique
  • 5:00 Method of Loci
  • 7:44 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Wind Goodfriend
When you have to study for a test and you need to remember a large amount of information, what strategies do you use to help your memory? These strategies are called mnemonic devices. This lesson covers several well-known mnemonic devices, such as chunking, the method of loci and the keyword technique.


Think back to the last time you were in school and had to study for an important test. In order to prep for the test, did you organize the information in certain ways? Did you try to give yourself tricks for ways to remember the material once the test started? For example, if you have to remember the names of the five Great Lakes in Michigan, you can take the first letter of each lake and spell the word 'HOMES.' Then, when it's time to take the test, all you have to do is remember 'HOMES', and this can be a cue for each lake: Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie and Superior.

The mnemonic device HOMES could help you remember the names of each of the Great Lakes

This type of trick to improve memory is called a mnemonic device. In other words, mnemonic devices are methods and strategies for organizing information to improve later recall. The word mnemonic comes from the Greek word for memory, and the ancient Greeks invented some of the ways we still use today to remember things. Let's discuss several different types. After this lesson, you can try some of the devices to help improve your own memory.

Types of Mnemonic Device

The first type of mnemonic device is the one we already discussed to remember the Great Lakes of Michigan. When we need to remember a lot of information, we can combine that information into larger units. For example, instead of remembering all five names for the Great Lakes, we give ourselves the cue of the single word 'HOMES.' If we can just remember this one word on the test when we need it, using our memory becomes a lot easier. This general strategy is called chunking. Chunking refers to combining several pieces of information into larger units to improve memory. There are two different specific types of chunking.

The first type is to take the first letter of each thing you want to remember and make a word out of those letters. That's what we did with the five Great Lakes to spell the word 'HOMES.' This specific type of chunking is called making an acronym. An acronym is a single word in which the letters stand for something else. Another example comes from music. When you want to remember the order of notes needed to read music, the treble clef notes spell the word 'FACE.' A final example also comes from music. If you want to remember the four types of voice needed for a proper singing quartet, you just need to remember the word 'STAB', which stands for Soprano, Tenor, Alto and Bass. Don't get confused and think that 'STAB' means something violent!

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account