Memorizing long numbers? How can I do that? I recall being told the average American can repeat quickly only numbers with five or fewer digits. For example, hearing several numbers, say 17, 38294, 584, and 127532, most can only say back the 17, 38294, and 584 – not the 127532.
How can such a person improve in memorizing long numbers so he can recall 6, 7, and even more digits? There are two ways. The first involves a kind of ‘device’. One definition of mnemonic device is “a memory technique to help your brain better encode and recall important information”.
Memory Aid – Grouping Numbers
Almost anyone can repeat a string of three. Jill speaks a three-digit number. Bob repeats it back to Jill. No big whoop. Anyone can do that. So why not take advantage of the fact? After all, what is a six-digit number if not two three-digit numbers?
629,384 is made up of 629 and 384. Remember those two three-digit numbers and repeat them. Do that and, in effect, you’ve repeated a six-digit number. So you (in effect) only have to remember two numbers.
I thought of this memorization technique during my teenage years and put it to good use. In fact once, after hearing it only twice, I was able to repeat an eighteen-digit number. However, I didn’t just repeat the 18-digit number. I repeated it in reverse order; I repeated it backwards!
Another Kind of Memory
The second trick I utilized, though I wasn’t aware there is a name for it, was to attempt to visualize the numbers. While I did not completely succeed at this, my memory did become stronger, perhaps in the same way as healthful exercise strengthens muscles. Some individuals, apparently born with the capability, see an actual image of numbers or text for some minutes. This is called eidetic memory.
Benefits of Memorizing Long Numbers
While I do not recommend one limit the recording of important numbers to one’s memory, it does offer some benefits to develop the ability. Consider these scenarios…
- You have no pencil or paper and must on-the-spot take down a phone number.
- You are on the phone and are told a string of important numbers you can jot down shortly.
- You look at the identification number of a motor vehicle and need to repeat it moments later.
- You need to quickly memorize a constant for some mathematics problem.
But the best benefit to memorizing long numbers is that you are exercising your mind. Use it or lose it seems a wise proverbial saying in this time of increasing dementia cases.
Note: You might also enjoy Algebra for Beginners: Student Perspective