My professor for personal finance this semester, Scott Marsh, offered an extra credit project that involved using a memory technique to memorize a main concept from every chapter of the Book of Mormon. I'm rather obsessed with the idea of improving my memory so I volunteered for the project. It turns out that he used the same numbers to letters method that I read about in a talk (Squeezing Milk from an Orange: An Easy Approach to Remembering Scripture,” New Era, May 1977) while I was on my mission. I already knew the basics of the approach from my mission and Professor Marsh's addition to them was great. Though I haven't yet memorized something major from every chapter of the Book of Mormon, I'm well on my way and I've found the method to be incredibly useful.
Professor Mash asked if anyone would like to volunteer a half-hour of their time each day for about a month during the summer to continue the project. I assume that we'll be moving on to the Doctrine and Covenants and New Testament as well. Anyway, the reason I write about this is because I think the program is actually making my memory better. Though I'm sure that some people are just born with a high capability to absorb and retain lots of information, I'm definitely not one of those. Programs like this help me stretch the meager brain that the kind Lord saw fit to give me.
Another though about memory: I've been using memory associations (I'm not sure if that's what you call it) to study for my finals this semester and I've got to tell you, it really blows my mind how much more you can remember by associating the new information with other things that you already know or with interesting images or even just with other new things that you are learning. I had a list of 17 items that I wanted to memorize for my personal finance test: mentor, path of progress, education, good writing skills, good speaking skills,show me the money, counselor, tax advice, prosperity from prosperity, innovative problem solving, teamwork, remembering, hard work, expert testimony, temptation, and marriage. Though I didn't need to memorize these items in order, I did because it was easy. I made up the following association train (I just made up that term, too) to remember it and now I can't forget it.
A young college kid goes and asks a college professor to be his mentor. The mentor tells him that he will be his mentor and that in order for him to succeed he needs to pick a path of progress (which is a job that will have high earning potential in the future). In order to pick such a career he'll need to go to college and get an education. At college, he'll have to learn to write well and speak well (in public). After he gets done speaking to a group of his classmates he surprises them by asking them for money. Once he gets some money from his fellow classmates, he walks over to the ASB (administrative building on BYU's campus) and becomes a counselor. However, instead of just becoming a normal counselor, he becomes a tax advisor. As a tax advisor, a rich student comes to him with a broken arm asking whether the tax advisor can help him. The advisor tells the rich student that he should ask his parents for money (prosperity from prosperity). Then the advisor looks at the broken arm and decides that he can use innovative problem solving to solve the problem. He sends the boy down to the football field to consult with the football team (teamwork) about how to fix his arm. Down on the field, coach Mendenhall tells him to run all the way to the top of the mountain (a task that requires much hard work) in order to find the solution. After making it to the top of the mountain, the boy becomes an expert witness on how hard it is to climb a mountain. While he is testifying about the difficulty of the climb, Satan tries to tempt the him to buy promoted items like investment life insurance(the promoted items were something I needed to remember). A beautiful young lady magically appears on the mountaintop and helps the boy resist the temptation. After telling Satan to go to hell, the boy decides that this beautiful young lady is the right person for him to marry.
If you read that whole thing, you're very kind. I've used an approach similar to this to memorize a lot of the stuff I've got to know for finals. It's not only made it much easier to retain more information, it's made it a lot more fun. So, for those of you who have finals right now, you might give it a shot. I'd also love to hear from anyone who has other ways of remembering info for tests and other stuff.