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You form acronyms by using each first letter from a group of words to form a new word. This is particularly useful when remembering words in a specified order. Acronyms are very common in ordinary language and in many fields. Some examples of common acronyms include NBA (National Basketball Associations), SCUBA (Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus), BTUs (British Thermal Units), and LASER (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation). What other common acronyms can you think of- The memory techniques in this section, for example, can be rearranged to form the acronym "SCRAM" (Sentences/acrostics, Chunking, Rhymes & songs, Acronyms, and Method of loci).

Let us suppose that you have to memorize the names of four kinds of fossils for your geology class: 1) actual remains, 2) Petrified, 3) Imprint, and 4) Molds or casts. Take the first letter of each item you are trying to remember: APIM. Then, arrange the letters so that the acronym resembles a word you are familiar with: PAIM or IMAP.

Although acronyms can be very useful memory aids, they do have some disadvantages. First, they are useful for rote memory, but do not aid comprehension. Be sure to differentiate between comprehension and memory, keeping in mind that understanding is often the best way to remember. Some people assume that if they can remember something, that they must "know" it; but memorization does not necessarily imply understanding. A second problem with acronyms is that they can be difficult to form; not all lists of words will lend themselves equally well to this technique. Finally, acronyms, like everything else, can be forgotten if not committed to memory.

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