Have you ever heard of the Story Method ? It is a very popular (and one of the oldest) memory technique with several variations for memory and studying. While many popular learning centres for study skills and right-brain training advocate this technique, there has not been any research done to gauge its effectiveness – though many have used it to their full advantage.  The main principles of this technique are to make each item distinctive (imagination) and link it to the next one (association). The crazier you can make the story the better. The more distinctive the more it will stick in your mind.

What Science Found Out 

Researchers decided to base their experiments on patients who suffered from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) and multiple sclerosis at two respective instances as these patients suffer from terrible memory impairment as side-effects. The patients were divided and one group underwent a 10-session memory retraining protocol based on visualization and context while the placebo group underwent memory exercises without visualization or context training.  Researchers found significant changes in activation patterns on neuroimaging after behavioral memory intervention and concluded  that the changes likely reflect increased brain efficiency and decreased task difficulty after training with the method.


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 What is the Story Method?

This technique is usually used when one wants to remember  a sequence of lists or events. After writing the list in order, the user has to make the story vivid and easy to remember, with silly things happening and with strong sensory content. It works even better when the user personalises it rather than copying wholesale from others.

For example, here’s one adapted from here. based on a sample list provided

  • Milk
  • Sugar
  • Eggs
  • Cheese
  • Soup
  • Apples
  • Beef
  • Peas
  • Oranges
  • Coffee

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Imagine a pint of milk growing arms and legs. It then runs over to a bag of sugar and pours its milk into it. The bag of sugar then opens its mouth and screams because all its sugar is being ruined. 

The sugar starts jumping around, angrily and full of sugary milk. The sugar is so angry it jumps on to the box of eggs next to him. All the eggs are crushed apart from one that escapes from the corner of the box. The little egg is so scared it runs away and falls off the side of the kitchen worktop. The egg smashes on the floor. 

Just then a block of cheese is walking by and slips over on the egg and goes flying into a bowl of soup. It’s a big bowl of soup with a diving board next to it with big red apples jumping in. As they do they’re landing on the cheese’s head. The cheese keeps getting his head pushed under the soup but the stupid apples don’t take any notice. 

Then a huge cow comes along and starts eating the apples as they are jumping into the soup. At the back of the cow you can see some mean peas cutting bits of beef off the cow’s rump. The peas then take the beef to their leader the all mighty orange who is at this time enjoying his morning coffee.


The example above is  just one of the many variations. There are many more out there of such techniques that aid memory recall during exams.

Have you tried this technique before? If so, please share it with us if you have any other variations.