JWMS Newspaper Club
The Major System: How To Memorize Numbers by Aurora R.
I opened the door and hit a doll and broke her bone. Then on the floor, I see a shell red and black like the Milan soccer team that vibe gave me. Then, I sit down and sell kebab online to get enough money to watch a movie. I then look at the armchair and see an arch that shows Nashy in Rome. I watch the movie I’ve been getting money for and when it’s over I look out the window and see the moon with the GAP logo on it. I then see on the bed a list of the NAVY generals that set America free. On YouTube, I watch a video of a cat going to a shop. When it’s over, I read Moby Dick and then a poem about a man who calls his friend to ask him how to use Das.
I know, you're probably thinking, "What's wrong with her?" or "I thought she was a smart, reasonable person…"
Well, that beginning craziness is actually how I memorized the first 50 decimals of π (pi) in about an hour. In the next paragraphs, I’m going to teach you how to memorize sequences of numbers, long or short, π or phone numbers--it’s up to you what to use this method for!
This method of memorization, used worldwide, is called The Major System, which consists of associating sounds to numbers, then words to the sounds, and then images to the words. I know this sounds confusing, but I’ll go more in-depth with each step.
Step 1: Numbers to Sounds
This step is probably the hardest one because it’s the only thing you actually have to memorize. Let’s say you want to memorize the first 50 numbers of pi, like me.
I know this looks intimidating, but trust me when I say that this method works.
As I said previously, you need to associate numbers with sounds. To do this--and here’s where the hard part comes in--you must memorize the table below.
This is what took the most time, so make sure you don’t get too frustrated and have a family member or a friend quiz you on it before moving on.
Step 2: Sounds to Words
Now that you have memorized the table, it’s time to make up some words and sentences.
Let’s re-read the first, crazy, paragraph and put emphasis on some words.
I open the DOOR and hit a DOLL and break her BONE. Then on the floor, I see a SHELL red and black like the MILAN soccer team that VIBE gave me. Then, I sit down and sell KEBAB online to get enough MONEY to watch a MOVIE. I then look at the armchair and see an ARCH that shows NASHY in ROME. I watch the MOVIE I’ve been getting money for and when it’s over I look out the window and see the MOON with the GAP logo on it. I then see on the bed a LIST of the NAVY generals that set America FREE. On YOUTUBE, I then watch a video of a C(K)AT going to a SHOP. When it’s over, I read MOBY Dick, and then a POEM about a man who calls his friend to ask him how to use DAS.
Door, doll, bone, shell, Milan, Vibe, kebab, money, movie, arch, Nashy, Rome, movie, moon, GAP, list, NAVY, free, YouTube, kat, shop, Moby, poem, das.
Let’s now take the first 10 decimals of pi: 3.1415926535.
In the weird story above, these 10 numbers are represented by the words: door, doll, bone, shell, Milan.
Well, let’s break this down even more and focus on certain letters, or sounds.
DooR, DoLl, BoNe, SHeLl, MiLan. Going back to the table: 141596535.
So, what you have to do is group the numbers you want to learn in groups--I did them in twos--and make words out of the letters those numbers are represented by. For now, don’t worry about making sentences with them, we’ll do that in the next step.
Step 3: Words to Sentences
After deciding which words you’re going to use, you need to make sentences with them. This is probably the easiest step, and it shouldn’t take too long.
Group the words into threes or twos, and then just make sentences with them! They don’t have to make sense--just make sure you remember them.
Something important to keep in mind is to keep the order of the words as they are. For example, if in the word list “door” comes before “doll," you can’t have “I saw a doll and then opened the door...”
Something else to keep in mind is to use a place you know well, like your bedroom, and make the sentences happen there.
Step 4: Sentences to Story
Once you have your sentences, connect them to make a story, like the one I made. It doesn’t have to be complex! Just keep in mind that the story is happening in a place you know well. You might say, for example, “I look out of the window and see the moon, where a cat is watching a movie. Then I look behind me and see some cheddar selling apples because it wants money to watch a movie.”
Try to make the process fun!
Step 5: Story to Images
This is the final step where, really, you don’t have to do anything. Just imagine the story in your head, like a movie playing in your mind. After that, you’re done! Go ahead and show off your memory skills to your friends and family--they’ll surely be impressed!
The first time you do this, I suggest you say the story out loud, then write the important words on a piece of paper and associate them with the numbers.
If you’ve read until now, you definitely deserve a round of applause--great job!