Handy Mnemonic Devices to Help Remember Homework Facts

Use these tools to help prepare for fact-based exams.

A mnemonic device is a phrase, rhyme, or image that can be used as a  memory tool. These devices can be used by students of all ages and all levels of study. Not every type of device works well for everyone, so it's important to experiment to figure out the best option for you.


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Types of Mnemonic Devices

There are at least nine different kinds of mnemonic devices. These are some of the most popular and useful:

  • Musical mnemonics. The alphabet song is an example of this kind of mnemonic device that makes it easy to memorize all the letters in order.
  • Name mnemonics. To use this approach, you create a name made up of the first letters of the sequence you want to memorize. For example, if you can remember the name Pvt. Tim Hall, you have a handy tool for remembering the essential amino acids (Phenylalanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Histidine, Arginine, Leucine, Lysine).
  • Phrase mnemonics. If you can remember the expression "Kings Play Cards On Fairly Good Soft Velvet," you can recall the order of the categories in the classification of life: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species, Variety.
  • Rhyme mnemonics. In what year did Columbus sail from Spain to America? "In fourteen hundred and ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue."
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Order of Operations

Photo by David Elfstrom/iStockphoto.com.

In mathematical expressions, the order of operations is important. You must carry out operations in a very specific order to solve a math problem. The order is: parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition, subtraction. You can remember this order by remembering:

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.

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Great Lakes

The names of the Great Lakes are: Superior, Michigan, Huron, Erie, Ontario. You can remember the order from west to east with the following:

Super Man Helps Every One.

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The Planets (without poor Pluto) are Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune.

My Very Educated Mother Just Served Us Noodles.

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Order of Taxonomy

The order of taxonomy in biology is: Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus, Species. There are many mnemonics for this:

Kevin’s Poor Cow Only Feels Good Sometimes.
King Phillip Cried Out For Good Soup.

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Taxonomic Classification for Humans

So where do human beings fit in when it comes to the order of taxonomy? Animalia, Chordata, Mammalia, Primatae, Hominidae, Homo sapiens. Try one of these mnemonic devices:

All Cool Men Prefer Having Heavy Sideburns.
Anyone Can Make Pretty Healthy Hot Stew.

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Mitosis Phases

The phases of mitosis (cell division) are: Interphase, Prophase, Metaphase, Anaphase, Telophase. Although it sounds rude:

I Propose Men Are Toads.

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Classes and sub-classes of Phylum Mollusca

Need to remember classes and sub-classes of Phylum Mollusca for biology class?

  • S- Scaphopoda
  • G- Gastropoda
  • C- Caudofoveata
  • S- Solenogastres
  • M- Monoplacophora
  • P- Polyplacophora
  • B- Bivalvia
  • C- Cephalopodia
  • CAN - (sub-classes of Cephalopodia)Coleoids, Ammonoids, Nautiloids

Try: Some Grownups Can't See Magic People But Children CAN.

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Coordinating Conjunctions

Coordinating conjunctions are used when we join two clauses together. They are: for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so. You can remember FANBOY as a device or try a full sentence mnemonic:

Four Apes Nibbled Big Orange Yams.

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Musical Notes

The musical notes in the scale are: E,G,B,D,F.

Every Good Boy Deserves Fudge.

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Colors of the Spectrum

Need to remember all the visible colors in the color spectrum? They are R – red, O – orange, Y – yellow, G – green, B – blue I – indigo, V – violet. Try to remember:

Richard Of York Gave Battle In Vain.