How to Memorize Lists

Studying lists can seem frustrating. At some points, your brain will remember the beginning and the end of the list while at other points your brain will only seem to remember the middle chunk of the list. If you are having trouble memorizing a whole list, this article will help you gain some of that skill.

First, start off with a simple list of several objects. The shorter the words the better your brain will be able to absorb and remember the information. There are two key steps in remembering lists: the first step involves absorbing the information and the second step involves remembering it.

Absorbing information

In order to absorb the information on the list, your brain has to be exposed to the list several times per day. If you are just starting out, you will need to start with a list containing four or five short words. For example, make a list going from top to bottom of these words: kite, burger, tomato, sheep, dart. Lists that are written vertically are usually easier to remember because the words appear isolated. Read the list several times, and then rewrite it so that the words are listed horizontally, from left to right. Then, read those words several times. 

At this point, you are simply reading and re-reading the words so that your brain ‘absorbs’ them. You can also start trying to make little connections or representations that will help you remember these words. For instance, in order to remember the list that reads vertically, you might remember the first letter of each word, since each one starts with a different letter. 

Remembering information

The next step is to start determining if you have ‘absorbed’ and can ‘remember’ the words. After you have read the list several times, start naming them off using your method of remembering (such as using the first letter of each word or creating a sentence/story out of the words). 

After you have accomplished remembering that short list, create a longer list using both vertical and horizontal methods of listing. Try to see which method allows you to remember the list better. As you will see, the longer the list the less able you are to remember the words in the middle. In order to remember these words, you may have to create a ‘story’ to connect all of the words. If you have a photographic memory, this may not be a problem for you. If you want, you can even remember the list out of order. This is a good idea if you cannot remember the middle words.

One of the keys to memorizing lists is to expose your brain to them at least a few times a day. The more your brain ‘sees’ the lists, the better able it will be to remember them.