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Memory and Retention Improvement Strategies


GULP is an acronym for an effective four step process to improve short and long term memory.

Step 1:  G - Get It

  • "The true art of memory is the art of attention"  -Samuel Johnson
  • be present and conscious during the initial learning
  • pay attention and listen
  • experience the initial learning with as many senses as possible

Step 2:  U - Use It

  • review material immediately
  • repeat it
  • write it down
  • sing or chant it
  • recreate the experience of the learning

Step 3:  L - Link It

  • associate new learning with something already known
  • link it to something it sounds like (acoustical link)
  • link it to a location
  • make an acronym link
  • mind map it
  • rhyme it
  • group it
  • categorize it
  • alphabetize it

Step 4:  P - Picture It

  • create a visual image of the association
  • make it move
  • make it vivid
  • make it bizarre
  • exaggerate it
  • use color
  • use all senses - seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling


1.  Acoustical Links

Definition:  linking new learning with substitute words that sound alike.

Effective for remembering the following:

  • vocabulary words
  • foreign languages
  • names
  • dates and events
  • matching items (for a test)


  • crabs are crustaceans.  Picture a crab eating, holding, or walking on a crust of bread.
  • barrister means lawyer, and sounds like "bear".  Picture a bear is a suit acting like a lawyer.

2.  Acronym Links

Definition:  using first letter of list to form a word, sentence, or phrase.

Effective for remembering the following:

  • lists of people, places, or things
  • things or steps in a sequence, formulae


  • Roy G. Biv - the colors in the rainbow
  • Every good boy does fine - musical notes on scale -EGBDF
  • HOMES - Great Lakes (Huron Ontario, Michigan, Erie, Superior)

3.  Linking with Key Words that Rhyme

Definition:  Using rhyming "peg" words to remember a list of up to ten items.

Effective for remembering the following:

  • lists of people, places, or things
  • things or steps in a sequence


  • one-bun (associate first item on list with bun
  • two-shoe (associate second item on list with shoe), etc.

4.  Linking with Poems and Songs

Definition:  creating a rhyme, poem, or song to associate with new material to be learned

Effective for remembering the following:

  • rules
  • theorems


  • "i" before "e" except after "c"...
  • when two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking
  • 30 days hath September, April, June, and November...
  • artery begins with "a", from the heart it takes blood away
  • veins has at its end and "n", it takes the blood back again

5.  Linking with Locations (LOCI)

Definition:  linking items to be remembered with specific locations in a room or with locations on a mental map

Effective for remembering the following:

  • lists of people, places, or things
  • things or steps in a sequence
  • dates and events


  • make a mental map of some place very familiar, such as a bedroom, the classroom, the route taken to school.  Items to be memorized are associated with certain landmarks in this map and recalled in that order.


Objects in bedroom List of things to do Mental picture
dresser return book to library dresser with books piled to ceiling
chair buy birthday card giant greeting card sitting in chair
desk do Mrs. Willams' homework picture Mrs. Williams sitting at desk scowling

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