Skip Navigation

Center For Academic Excellence

CAE | Mnemonic Devices

Mnemonic devices are aids for improving one’s memory. These devices can be much more efficient
than rote memory techniques (learning by simple repetition). Mnemonic devices are more effective
because they generally attach new information to be learned to old information already mastered, or
to catch words or phrases that are more easily remembered.


  • days in each month--30 days hath September, April, June and November. . .
  • spelling generalization--i before e except after c

Acronyms (catchwords)

  • Great Lakes--HOMES (Huron, Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)
  • only spot in the U.S. where four states meet--CANU (Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, Utah)

Acrostics (catch phrases)

  • the colors of the spectrum--Roy G. Biv
  • the order of the planets from the sun--My very educated mother just served us nine pickles.

Procedure for Developing Acronyms and Acrostics

1.  Underline the first letter of each word in the information to be learned.

2.  Devise a word or phrase (nonsense or otherwise) using each letter underlined.


Psychology--4 symptoms of schizophrenia are Withdrawal, Hallucinations, Inappropriate emotional response, and Delusions; catchword is whid.

Chemistry--7 diatomic molecules are Bromine, Hydrogen, Chlorine, Fluorine, Oxygen, Nitrogen, Iodine; catch phrase might be Brian helps Claire find out new ideas.

3. If a series of phrases needs to be learned, circle the key word or most significant word in  each phrase. Then underline the first letter of each key word and form the catchword/phrase.


Psychology--Abraham Maslow’s theory of basic human needs identifies the following: Biological
need, Safety need, Need for companionship, Esteem need, Need for self-actualization. A catch
phrase would be Bob sings clearly each afternoon.

This information is taken from handouts produced by the Supplemental Instruction Program at University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Developed by
Jennie Ariail, Ph.D. - Director
Tom Waldrep, Ph.D. - Director (retired)

Print as PDF file


©  Medical University of South Carolina | Disclaimer