The Major Memory System – Memorizing Numbers

The major memory system is a powerful technique to assist in the memorization of numbers. Each number is associated with a phonetic sound (not a specific letter). The sounds can be chained together to form words and those words can be associated with images for recollection. To help with visualization the selected words should be nouns that are easy to create an image of.  While the process of learning this system can be done in a few hours it can take several weeks of practice to achieve fast conversion times from numbers to words to images and back.

Apps that can Help

I found two helps particularly helpful to practice the Major Memory System. Initially I started with the iOS app “NumberThink“. It is free, easy to use and provides all the basic features needed to master this memory system. Initially I would keep their “cheat sheet” up as I regularly needed to check which number was associated with each sound. The “Quiz” mode was helpful for reviewing the basics, but it without any sort of timer or correctness counter it was hard to measure improvement. As I practiced memorizing my credit cards I realized that memorizing and recalling a single digit at a time was too slow. The NumberThink App includes a set of “Peg Words” which are two digit numbers 00-99 that are each associated with a customized word that is easy to imagine such as 46 = roach. This takes significantly more practice to become proficient at using the same two digit number word pairing for memorization and recall.

Once the basic number to phonetic sounds come easy it is time to speed things up with a peg word list and an app that measure accuracy and time. I paid $3 for to use the Major System Trainer App available for iOS and Droid. This app is brutal with it’s requirement to get 10 correct answers in one minute. Images are provided for each peg word so it make memorization easier in that you don’t have to keep coming up with your own image. The app works to confuse you with questions like “what number comes before this image”. While challenging and exhausting it provides a structured environment to prevent you from moving on before you are ready.


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