Dr. Memory’s Advice

So far, so good.  Four verses down, 104 left to go.  At this rate, I might finish memorizing James by the time I’m 50, but I make no promises.

I’ve enjoyed reading all your tips and tricks for memorizing scripture.  People who haven’t posted to the site have also been e-mailing, calling, and pulling me aside to give me their advice on how they memorize verses.  I’ve been assembling all of these wonderful, practical tips, and I thought I’d share some of them with you all.

First, I thought I’d share some of my husband’s advice.  I tend to forget that I live with Dr. Memory, so I thought back to his days in medical school and all the memorizing he had to do to survive those awful tests (They’re aptly called “The boards,” I think because nothing will make you “bored” like memorizing lists of random tidbits about obscure medical conditions.).

Dan had four years to find the best ways to quickly cram the most information in his brain.  The first key was using flashcards, lots and lots of flashcards.  We still have piles of flashcards filling boxes in our closet (One of these days, I’m going to dump them on his side of the bed and demand that if he wants to sleep there, he’d better get rid of the cards).  Both of us have used a few flashcards in our day, and I like them because you can reshuffle them to repeat the info in a different order or flip the cards to state the info the other way around. 

For example, with scripture verses, I’m writing the verse number on one side, and on the other, I’m writing out the full text of the verse.  At the top of the card, I’m writing the first letter of each word, as more vague reference that keeps me from looking at the entire verse.  If I’m stuck, I try to look at that first.  When I go through the cards, I’ll typically go through them by only reading the verse number side, in the order they appear in the bible.  Next, I’ll shuffle them and say the verses in a different order, to make sure that I know the verses on their own, not just in the sequence.  After that, I’ll flip over the cards and read the verse’s text and see if I can recall the reference number. 

My husband also used many mnemonic devices, word tools that helped him recall lists and complex names.  I’d often stay up late with him before tests, especially pharmacology, and help him think of very bizarre sounding acronyms that would list the types of drugs one uses to treat specific medical conditions.  If he had a list of 10 words to remember, I would take the first letter of each word and try to construct another word or make a sentence that was silly and memorable. We also used this site a lot to see if anybody else came up with good ones (click here).

With scripture memory, this sort of method would work if you had a long list of names, places, or other items to recall.  Let’s say you want to remember the fruits of the spirit.  The first letters are LJPPKGFGS.  This doesn’t make any words because there are no vowels. It’s like the Scrabble hand from hell.  Try it yourself.  Here’s a good site that finds anagrams in word scrambles (click here).  But, since this method doesn’t work very well, and you probably want to know these in order, you could always try creating a sentence, something like this: Lucy joins Peter Parker in keeping gangs from grabbing Spiderman.  That sounds like one I would make for my husband’s flashcards.

My husband’s final advice is to get up and move.  Once upon a time, I read that people remember things better if the endorphins are flowing.  I know one guy who studied his medical school texts while on the treadmill. With all that training, he ended up running a few marathons while in med school.  Dan was a bit more practical and took his flashcards out on the track in a nearby park.  He’d walk around the track, flipping through the cards, round and round.  He got to be a regular feature of the landscape, and if he happened to be out there without his cards, the neighbors asked where they were.

Feel free to send along any other memory advice you have! 


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. My favorite memory aid for remembering the books of the Bible: God eats pop corn.
    Galatians, Ephesians,Philippians,Colossians.

    Hoo boy.

    Walk Through the Bible (which helps you memorize the books of the Bible and their content too) uses hand motions as well. Sign language taps into that motion/memorization thing.

    I feel for med and pharm students. I’ve watch them memorize until their faces melted right off their heads. Or at least that is what it looked like to me.

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