LOCI: Memorizing Vocabulary & Honing Your Memory

March 5, 2018

As a teacher for the SAT, most of the techniques I've seen recommended to learn new words are based on flash cards.  It always  puzzles me.  A sparse vocabulary is one of the easiest problems to overcome on the SAT.  A plethora of mnemonic techniques exist; among the least powerful is flash cards.


Today we'll discuss one important and effective technique for memorizing vocabulary: the LOCI method.  This method takes a little while to get used to.  But once you do, you'll be able to memorize words in a matter of seconds.  And you won't have to constantly review and memorize by force.

For example, take the word 'transient.' The word transient means temporary or fleeting.

Let's break up 'transient' into two parts: 'tran' and 'sient'.  

For me, I imagine a train - from 'tran' - and a sea - from 'sient.'

Now imagine a train disappearing over the sea.  It appears briefly and then disappears - transient.

 You don't have to worry if the image isn't an exact representation.  (And it usually won't be.)  It'll serve as an anchor, drawing the meaning after it.  The wackier and more ridiculous the image, the easier it will be to remember it.


Let's take another example: 'quotidian.'  This word means ordinary or everyday.

Again, let's divide the word:

Quotidian: 'quote' and 'teddy.'

Imagine a pink teddy bear.  It doesn't have to be pink, but the whackier the better.  The bear is ensconsed within a pair of quotes.  Then imagine a square from a calendar, and put the quotes + bear within the calendar square.

Here is a video from four-time USA memory-champion, Nelson Dellis, illustrating the LOCI method:

For my students, I've made an exclusive list of the 300 most frequent words on the SAT, along with their LOCI visual images.  Contact me on my website, tovakrakauercoaching.com, for more information.


Good luck with your memory and your tests,

















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