SuperCamp Success Story #4: Grant.

Grant took the SAT prior to learning memory strategies (known as mnemonics) at SuperCamp, and then again afterward. At SuperCamp he realized the power of these strategies and later applied them to learning a book of 2,500 vocabulary words. He did this in just two days before retaking the SAT. The mnemonics helped him raise his vocabulary score from the 66th percentile (the score he got before attending SuperCamp) to the 99thpercentile on the exam he took after attending. He also took the ACT and got a perfect 36 on the math section.

These scores helped Grant get into Cornell University and later achieve his MBA at the Fuqua School of Business at Duke University, ranked by Business Week as the #1 business school in the country. And now many years later, he uses these same memory strategies every day in his role of CEO of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group in Chicago.

The Key Role of Memory Strategies in School Success

The ability to memorize information is more important than ever, in school and beyond. Although viewed by some as an outdated practice with the belief that it doesn’t contribute to the current focus on deep thinking and understanding, memorization through mnemonics builds a base of facts and information that is essential for thinking and understanding.

Strategies to memorize information, mnemonics include acronyms, keywords, anchoring to locations, songs, rhymes, and storytelling. They strengthen attention, imaging, and association and help us encode information into long-term memory so that it is easier to retrieve when needed.

Mnemonics are powerful and can turn frustration to amazement about our abilities. On the first day of SuperCamp we tell an odd story—with animation, body movement, sounds, and lots of repetition—that creates vivid images in the minds of students. They easily repeat the story and after a few rounds of practice we ask them What else might you have learned through this story? Content is embedded in the story and students are always amazed that they just learned the first twelve elements and symbols of the periodic table starting with a tale that includes “ha – hide your gem” that translates to Hhydrogen.

The ability to learn facts easily and remember them gives confidence to students. For some it makes the difference between I’ll never get this and I can do this! And, as we know, confidence leads to competence and motivation to do well.

Professor John Hattie, an Australian education researcher best known for Visible Learning: A Synthesis of Over 800 Meta-Analyses Relating to Achievement, has focused on defining the major influences on student achievement. In his paper “Understanding Learning: Lessons for Learning, Teaching and Research,” Hattie stated that “while there are many definitions of ‘learning’ . . . learning is the process of developing sufficient surface knowledge to then move to deep or conceptual understanding.” We need to learn and remember facts so that we can think, analyze and understand. Hattie created lists of the “effect size” of strategies—the amount of impact they have on learning. He found the top strategies that make a significant difference in learning include rehearsing and memorizing, and task strategies such as creating mnemonics to remember facts.

Memorization is necessary for learning and unlike rote memorization, which is based on repetition, mnemonics are an excellent stimulus for creativity and forming images, both of which are essential for effective learning. Mnemonics also help us focus and hold content in place as we build knowledge and associate it with previously acquired information. Mnemonics are vitally important and play a key role in education.

Students at SuperCamp gain skills and motivation to apply mnemonics to learning important content at school. For information about programs offered this summer on prestigious university campuses go to

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Since 1982 SuperCamp has increased the academic and personal success of 73,000 students. Participants experience breakthrough learning, the 8 Keys of Excellence principles to live by, self-discovery, deep friendships, and fun! They learn valuable collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity strategies, and how to apply their SuperCamp experiences and skills to school, college, career, and life.