Have you ever heard of chunking? No, not chunky, chunking! Chunking is the process of putting the information you need to know into categories, clusters or hierarchies. By doing this it (in theory) will make it much easier for you to recall all the information you need to remember. This memory technique is quite simple to use and it will quickly transform your ability to remember lots of data and information if used correctly.
Chunking is the process of combining the items you need to remember together into larger groups – typically through groups, categories and hierarchies. Items you can “chunk” include objects, names, dates, numbers, places, events, symbols and so on. The list of what you can possibly chunk is virtually endless.
For example, you could categorize your list by the first letter of the word or sentence you would like to remember (such as E, N, P or Y – any letter is possible), or by the item type (such as what the item is used for, where it is stored, or what it is related to) or even by how the item is applied (such as math or economic equations).
The most vital thing to remember is not how to chunk them together, but instead just making sure that you understand the groups or categories you are going to use. Don’t use grouping you don’t understand because you will find it much harder to remember the groups themselves (which means you won’t remember the items either!)
Let’s look at how this may work by starting with eight objects: soccer, television, bread, sausages, strawberries, bean bag, basketball, television, and bananas. We could use chunking to group these items by the letter B – bread, bananas, basketball and bean bag. Or we could chunk them by sports – soccer and basketball. Or we could chunk them by fruit – strawberries and bananas. Or we could chunk them by food items – bread, sausages, strawberries and bananas. This is by no means an extensive list but you get the point. The items are being grouped together based on a common denominator.
As you can see by using chunking the items are being grouped together in order to create more memorable memory traces. Building memory traces helps you to remember the items. Don’t believe me? Quick – tell me what items we just learnt that start with B. I bet you got at least a couple without even trying to commit them to memory. The point is, once you have chunked the items you only need to remember the group in order to recall the items instead of trying to remember each item on its own.
Now let’s take things a bit deeper. What about chunking numbers? Let’s say you need to remember the following number – 3112196911222006. Say each number one by one. Did you get all that? Now repeat it out aloud without looking at it. Hmm – three, one, one, two – wouldn’t have a clue? There was a six somewhere? Not sure? But if we use chunking all of a sudden this becomes much easier.
Firstly we have 3112. If you applied to this number to a date you would get the 31st of December – 3112. Next, 1969 – everyone remembers that this is the year that man first went to the moon. Next comes 11. This is the first number that can’t be counted on your fingers or your toes. Next comes 22. Well that’s just double 11! Finally, we have 2006 – that’s the very same year that Brazil won the world cup of soccer. Pretty simple stuff really!
By using the chunking system for numbers it becomes clear that what you are recalling are stories related to the numbers to form a larger number. You don’t have to remember any numbers; you just need to remember the events. Pretty cool isn’t it? The date of New Year’s Eve, the year man first walked on the moon, one more than your fingers or toes, double that number, and Brazil beats everyone and wins the soccer world cup. 3112 – 1969 -11-22-2206. 3112196911222006. What’s hard about that?
I’m not going to pretend that the examples that have been shown to you are complex- because they’re not. They’re actually quite basic. But you have to start at simple and work your way to complex. The point is, chunking really works and it will improve your memory recall dramatically if you give it a go. So learn how to study by learning how to get chunky. Apply it the next time you have to remember something and see what happens. Good luck!
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Author: Lachlan HaynesThis author has published 2 articles so far.