The 5 best mnemonics

by Emily

Mnemonics are memory aids. They are sometimes a single sentence, sometimes entire paragraphs. An English tutor friend of mine told me that he invented a labyrinthine mental trail around Canterbury Cathedral, populated by characters which he then taught to his students to help them recall the order of the Canterbury Tales. My personal favourite was a woman having a bath in the font, with a frying pan - the Wife of Bath followed by the Friar's Tale.

Here are my top five mnemonics - the classics, mostly tried and tested from years of overseeing exam revision classes. What other mnemonics have you used with students - and to what degree of success?

1. Physics - My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets: Take the first letter of each word, to get the first letter of the planets, in order. Of course now Pluto is no longer a planet this one is slightly outdated - but hard to beat!

2. Music - Every Good Boy Deserves Football+ FACE: A similar theory to the naming of the planets, the former is a single letter for each line of music on the sheet, the latter for the gaps between.

3. History - Divorced, Beheaded, Died, Divorced, Beheaded, Survived: The fate of the six wives of Henry VIII in a nutshell. This one works by expansion - once you know the destiny of the six women - it becomes easier to remember who is who.

4. Biology - Kids Playing Carelessly On Freeways Get Squashed: Otherwise known as the scientific classification of the species: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species.

5. Geography - Never Eat Shredded Wheat - Simple, but effective, this first letter mnemonic helps students to remember the cardinal points of the compass, in order.