In previous weeks, we introduced various methods of memorization such as rote memory, mnemonics, and the chain link method. Today we’ll be introducing a method especially useful for memorizing numerical lists and numbers: the peg method.

In order for you to utilize this system, you’ll need to do a bit of work upfront. First, you must memorize words, or “peg” words associated with each numerical value. You can make up your own words or use the standard ones listed below (I’ll explain the systems and how they work later). Afterwards, you can associate each item you are trying to memorize with these “peg” words you have now committed to memory.

Currently, two main systems of peg words exist: the Rhyming Pegs and Major Pegs.

In the Rhyming Peg System, items with names that rhyme with the number are used:

  • 1-bun
  • 2-shoe
  • 3-tree
  • 4-door
  • 5-hive
  • 6-bricks
  • 7-heaven
  • 8-weight
  • 9-wine
  • 10-hen

Using the grocery list example from before, (bananas, milk, eggs, and watermelon) you could now memorize these items using the first four pegs. Imagine a banana balanced on top of a bun, a milk carton inside a shoe, eggs hung on a tree like ornaments, and a watermelon shaped like a door.

In the Shape Peg System, the same principle applies as with the Rhyming Peg System, except that objects with similar shapes to the numbers are used:

  • 1-pencil
  • 2-swan’s neck
  • 3-heart
  • 4-boat sail
  • 5-hook
  • 6-golf club
  • 7-cliff’s edge
  • 8-hourglass
  • 9-balloon on a stick
  • 10-fork and plate

As you might have noticed, the number of items you can remember is not limited to just ten but for as many pegs as you are able to commit to memory!

A huge benefit of this system is being able to recall items at any point in the list and by numerical position without having to run through an entire sequence of events in your mind (such as in the chain method we explained last week). Despite the initial work required to commit the pegs to memory, you’ll soon see how useful this method is for your studying and memory needs.

Next week, we’ll be exploring a method similar to the peg system, but with even more applications such as for memorizing long strings of numbers (ever wonder how those memory athletes do it?). Stay tuned and find out!