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Published: Thu, 12 Oct 2017

The Major and Dominic Memory Systems

These two advanced and powerful memory recall systems require a significant amount of time or you to understand what they can do and to master how to apply them. So, while it is considered to be difficult to use, it is very effective – just make sure you have the time to invest to learn and practice them.

The Major System:

This system is also called the Phonetic Number System, and is used to assist in memorising long strings of numbers.

The Major System essentially converts number sequences into nouns, then nouns into images, and finally images into sequences, which then become very detailed and complex.

Numbers become associated with consonant sounds:

0

S, Z, the soft C (e.g. ceiling)

1

T, D

2

N

3

M

4

R

5

L

6

sh sounds: ch, sh, sc, sch, tsch, J, soft G, t (in ration), z (in seizure)

7

K, hard C, Q, hard G, ch (in loch or Bach)

8

F, ph (in phone) V, gh (in laugh)

9

P, B

Unassigned

H, Y, W, vowels, silent letters in a word, doubled letters, J pronounced as H or Y

Then the number you want to memorise is translated into these sounds, and the sounds are then formed into nouns that they match with. Vowels are added to make the consonant sounds into the words.

These words can then be remembered through the phrase they make. It may be that a sensible sentence or chain of words isn’t formed, so you will need to use the association and linking methods to make a chain you can understand and remember.

Use images to help memorise long sequences of words.

For example: 4323157682

This can become: R M N M D L C sh F N

Which could be turned into: RoMaN MoDeL CaSH FaN

You could then imagine someone purchasing a Roman style model of an expensive fan.

You need to be able to convert the sounds and numbers back and forth quickly for this method to be useful. One way to get better at this is to use a ‘peg’ system, where each pair (or even bigger groups) of numbers are associated with one particular word. This means that there is a set list of words that are used to correspond to the numbers.

The Dominic System:

This was developed by Dominic O’Brien (hence the name). It builds on the Major System by using people instead of objects, as people may be easier to remember. The numbers are converted to letters, and then the letters are used to form the initials of people. Each person used will be associated with an action; as an example: AM represents Andy Murray whose action is playing tennis. You can also create a separate list of actions for the numbers 0 to 9. This way you can work with number strings that are not an even number. So, a 3 digit number can be a person and then an action from the list.

It is beneficial to also use a peg system where the same number pairs will always relate to the same people. The people you use should be memorable and have some significance to you – to make them easier to remember. This system is handy for remembering a short number sequence (for example: a passcode, room number, booking reference, address, etc.).

  • 2-digit number: associate the person whose initials match for that particular number
  • 3-digit number: associate the person whose initials match for that particular number and an action that comes from the action list
  • 4-digit number: associate the person whose initials match for the first part of the number performing their action with/on the person who matches the second part of the number
  • 5-digit number: Follow the same construction as for the 4-digit number
  • 6-digit number: Follow the same construction as for the 4-digit number

Both of these systems are very powerful, which means that they also require a lot of practice before they become second nature to you. Like the other memory systems, do not become discouraged; just keep trying to use them. Your brain will not only thank you for the mental exercise, but you will also be able to unlock new layers of memory recall ability that can prove useful to you as a student as well as for the ongoing learning practices you will need throughout your career and life.


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