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Exams and Study Skills

Test taking strategies

Association and Visualization

"In order to remember any new thing it must be associated with something we already know or already remember" (Harry Lorayne).

An association can be anything you can easily remember: a dance step, a song, a friend’s birthday, your favourite food, and more.

Anything that you receive through your senses of sight, sound, taste, feeling, or smell can be, and usually is, associated with something else. We may not be consciously aware, but we make associations everyday to remember. For example, when a song makes you think of a particular day or person, it’s an association. An association can even be a story that you make up.

This video explains how to make mental associations. 

Most people are visual learners, so associating information with images is an effective strategy. For example, we remember places that we have been best when we have already visited and have an image of them in our minds. Images stay in our memories, but information, such as the side effects of a medication, escapes unless we associate or attach it to something else.

Make association and visualization work for you by picking an image or association and then repeating the ideas or information that goes with it. Because the image or association is easier to remember, you can find your way back to it quickly and then retrieve the other information. For example, to remember the name of a new classmate, you may repeat their name and also remember a certain characteristic, such as their smile or voice, and associate that with their name. Repeating the information (their name) to yourself while visualizing will help you remember.