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Memory Techniques for Mastering Formulae

Memory Techniques for Mastering Formulae

Those studying for financial services exams are often asked to learn different formulae. Being able to recall this information quickly and accurately can save precious minutes on exam day. Here are 6 ways to commit formulae to your long-term memory.

We’ve previously written about memory techniques to help if you have to remember significant volumes of information for financial services exams.

We looked at how memory works, offered some lifestyle tips to boost recall and discussed the Dominic and Major systems plus the Loci Method for remembering numbers. (There are others!)

But as it’s such a vast subject area, we wanted to write about memory techniques again, not least because, with summer starting to draw to a close, thoughts may be turning to early October exams such as the AF4.

This time, we focus on tips to help you memorise key mathematical formulae – and these techniques should also help you recall other, similar information.

Understand the meaning first

It probably won’t be either fruitful or efficient to attempt to learn large numbers of formulae until you’ve truly and fully understood their meaning. Without this understanding, if you simply use rote learning, you’ll probably just forget the formula very quickly.

Remove distractions

It may sound obvious, but memorising something as complex as mathematical information really does need your full concentration. So unplug the internet and phone, and maybe even any background music too. Don’t try to do or think about anything else at the same time as studying.

Use a variety of methods

Writing down formulae on flashcards, or having them on sticky notes around the house, can really help. For Post-Its, the bedroom mirror is a good place! Repeat the formulae out loud, to yourself or to someone else, or record them and listen to them when, say, washing up or travelling to work. Randomly try writing one of the formulae in a notebook on the bus home.

Being able to recall formulae quickly and accurately can save precious minutes on exam day. Click To Tweet



Again, this may sound an obvious one, but, like most clichés, it happens to be true. The more you repeat the information you need to know, the more likely you are to remember and understand it. Use and practise the formulae every chance you get.


Prioritise the information you think is most important (or which you find the hardest) and learn that first, to avoid brain overload. Pick five key formulae and learn them until you can spout them off by heart. Don’t try and remember too many at once. Bear in mind that you need to commit to your long-term rather than short-term memory. And to do that, you’ll need to be sure you get enough sleep.

Visualise in pictures and tell a story

Enhance retention by creating a visual representation of each part of the formula in your head. This is the approach a number of memory experts advocate. For each digit you need to remember, associate it with a letter, then associate that letter with a word,

Next connect the words to create a story, which your mind should have a natural ability to remember. If it doesn’t stick first time around, try adding a few more details. Go over it several times to embed it in your memory. The more bizarre the better (and more memorable.)

For example, 3 could be m because the number looks like an m on its side. Four could be an r because that’s the letter the word ends with, and so on.

Alternatively, associate a whole word directly with a number, such as ‘George’ with the number 6 because it has six letters.

Finally, think of all the phone numbers, passwords or email addresses you know by heart. Or all the names of colleagues and other contacts your brain retains. So, while it may seem an initially daunting task, your brain is perfectly capable of recalling all the information needed to pass your financial services exams. You just need enough time and focus, and the right techniques.