Practise Recall To Memorise Large Blocks Of Text

Practise Recall To Memorise Large Blocks Of Text

Memorising a large block of text is incredibly hard, but the folks over at Productivity 501 have a simple method that involves recalling information instead of repeating it, by reducing large chunks of text to just a few letters.

You have a lot of different options for memorising large streams of text. An old favourite is the memory palace, where you lay out a string of words inside an imaginary palace. The method Productivity 501 talks about is all about reduction.

The first step is to get yourself familiar with the text. Read it out loud, copy it by hand, create a short outline, or have someone else read it to you. Once you have a general idea about the text, it’s time to come up with a way for your brain to memorise the least amount of information but still recall the words.

This means reducing the original text down to nothing but the first letter of each word. So, for the Gettysburg Address, you could memorise 278 words, or you could memorise 278 letters. The letters are much easier to remember, and you can recall the information just as quickly. The Gettysburg Address would end up looking this:

F s a s y a o f b f o t c, a n n, c i L, a d t t p t a m a c e. N w a e i a g c w, t w t n, o a n s c a s d, c l e. W a m o a g b-f o t w. W h c t d a p o t f, a a f r p f t w h g t l t t n m l. I i a f a p t w s d t. B, i a l s, w c n d – w c n c – w c n h – t g. T b m, l a d, w s h, h c i, f a o p p t a o d. T w w l n, n l r w w s h, b i c n f w t d h. I i f u t l, r, t b d h t t u w w t w f h h t f s n a. I i r f u t b h d t t g t r b u – t f t h d w t i d t t c f w t g t l f m o d – t w h h r t t d s n h d i v – t t n, u G, s h a n b o f – a t g o t p, b t p, f t p, s n p f t e.

It’s an interesting method that could prove useful in your memorisation toolkit. Head over to Productivity 501 for a full explanation of how this works, as well as a tool where you can take any text you want and automatically convert it to just the first letters.

How to Memorize Verbatim Text [Productivity 501]


  • Freaky occurrence of the week:
    Upon opening this article, my eyes went immediately to the block containing the letter by letter text. I didn’t know anything about this other than the summary that appeared on the list-of-stories page. IE, I knew it was something about memorizing characters instead of words, but that’s it.

    I looked at F s a s y a…. and ** I READ OUT ** Four score and seven years ago. I just KNEW what this was.

    Back in year 7, I had to memorize this for a school recital. It is still cluttering my brain. I did it by words, not by letters, though.

    Side note: I love learning hacks, and I’m way into using lists of key letters as pointers to the words behind them. But I would typically use fewer letters than the above. I’d pick out a key word in each phrase, grab its letter and use that. Or I’d leave out all the unimportant articles that could be inferred from the words around them anyway. Etc.

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