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To use associations effectively, you need to actively look for and think about ways to create simple associations that will be easy to remember and use to recall information. The following examples show several kinds of associations you can create to learn factual information.
1. Recall a person's name: Associate the name with an object.
For example, you want to remember the name of a new classmate, Annie Carpenter. Picture Annie as a carpenter wearing a carpenter's apron and holding a hammer in one hand. The name ANNIE is printed boldly across the carpenter's apron filled with tools.
2. Recall a person's name: Think of another person you know with that same name.
For example, you want to remember the name of William Herschel, an English astronomer who discovered the planet Uranus in 1781. First you think of your uncle William, who was an avid football fan. Then you think of Herschel Walker, a great NFL running back, who retired from the NFL in 1997. Finally, you create an image of your Uncle William with his arms draped over Herschel Walker's shoulders as the two gaze up into the evening sky, wishing they could see Uranus.
3. Define a new term: Associate the meaning with an object that has a similar characteristic.
For example, you have had problems remembering the difference between a waxing moon and a waning moon. You know that one term means that the illuminated portion of the moon gets larger and that the other term means that the illuminated portion gets smaller. You begin by focusing on the term waxing. You immediately think about waxing your car. The more you wax, the shinier it becomes. The shine increases; a waxing moon also increases. This association makes it easy to remember that the illuminated surface of a waxing moon increases, and thus, the illuminated surface of the waning moon decreases.
4. Spell a word correctly: Create associations by using specific letters within the word.
For example, to avoid spelling confusions between the words dessert and desert, just remember that the word with ss (dessert) is so sweet. Also, the plural desserts spelled backwards spells stressed. To avoid confusion between the homonyms principal and principle, remember that the only time you use principle is when you are referring to a rule or a standard, such as the principles of accounting or living your life by your own principles. You can also remember that a principal of a school is your pal, but you would also need to remember that there are other meanings of principal, such as a principal on a loan or a principal part in a play. To use the correct homonym piece or peace, remember that piece is a portion of something, such as a piece of pie.
5. Remember a specific number: Find number patterns to use in an association.
For example, you want to remember that Mount Fuji in Japan is 12,389 feet high. Twelve reminds you of 12 months in a year. There are 365 days in a year. You subtract 365 from 389 and get a remainder of 24. There are 24 hours in a day. The association to recall the height of Mount Fuji is 12,365 + 24 = 12,389 feet.
6. Remember a specific task to do: Associate the task with an object you will encounter.
For example, you are in bed when you remember you need to get your gym clothes out of the dryer before you go to school. Since you always begin your day with coffee, you create a clear mental picture of your gym clothes stuffed inside your coffee pot. In the morning when you see your coffee pot, you receive the reminder to get your gym clothes.
7. Remember a cause-effect relationship: Blend two items into an image of action.
For example, you want to remember that fertilizer is a petroleum product. You imagine yourself holding a gas can, and as you pour out the contents, you pour fertilizer, not gas. As another example, you want to remember that for some people, rising quickly from bed can cause sudden fainting due to a drop in blood pressure. You picture someone rising quickly, fainting, and dropping to the floor. You can link this to dropping blood on the floor