Remembering Formulas: Tips and Tricks

Remembering Formulas: Introduction

There really are no shortcuts to anything. A shortcut to something will never take you where you wanted to go in the first place. But there are a few techniques, for almost anything, which can improve the effectiveness of the effort that you put into doing a particular thing. Same is true for remembering formulas.

The reason I want to avoid using the word short-cut is because there is no way any of this, what i am about to suggest, is going to work unless you put in a sincere effort. So what I am going to tell you here, are a few techniques that will certainly help you remember things more efficiently and for a longer period.

Remembering Formulas: Identify your limit

The first technique that you can use for remembering formulas is the technique of not overestimating yourself. You are smart, I know that, just like everyone else; right? But the important thing to remember is that your brain has a limit. So don’t try to do more than you can. So the lesson here is to first identify your capacity and not try to exceed it.

Remebering Formulas
.    Remembering Formulas: Don’t overdo it!

Trying to learn more than what you can remember will lead to two major issues which you definitely want to avoid. The first one is that the time you invested in learning those formulas will be of no value because you would have forgotten everything. The second issue, which is more serious, is that you will start getting disappointed and demotivated and slowly develop a hatred towards education.

Remembering Formulas: 24 hour rule

The second technique that you can use for remembering formulas is practice. “Practice makes a man perfect”, I am sure you have heard this a lot more than you ever wanted to. But it is one of the truest thing ever said. Now, since we are talking about smart techniques, I am not going to tell you to take your book and just go at it. No! There is a smart way to do it. Learning curve and other such techniques would show you clearly, that you will remember better as you practice more. But did you notice the initial rise. Did you notice how steep that is. Use that zone to your advantage!

Remembering Formulas
.        Remembering Formulas: Practice within 24 hours

Your obvious question probably is how? Well, the X-axis if basically time, so for you to make use of the steep rise all you have to do is to use the formulas learnt to solve problems within 24 hours of learning the formula. If you do that, it is very likely that you will never forget the formula. So all you have to do is get this discipline in your life.

Remembering Formulas: Visualisation

Another technique of remembering formulas is to visualise everything you learn. This may sound difficult. But it is far easier than you would think. All you need is some imagination. Which I am sure you have plenty of, which you have been using all your life to come up with excuses. Well, put it to a good use now.

Remembering Formulas
.                                        Remembering Formulas: Try to create a mental Picture

The diagram above shows you how to remember the expansion formulae. Though this is a slightly tough example. Lets try to understand this through the simplest examples. Remember Newton’s Second Law of motion. Now, I am sure you had no difficulty remembering that because it was so simple, but if you wanted to learn it through visualisation, here it what it would be like.

You should visualise a force acting on a box which has some mass and try to think what happens when a force is applied. You can see that more the force applied, higher the acceleration. It is also quite obvious to you that higher the force, higher the acceleration. And higher the mass, lesser the acceleration for a given amount of force. So, the expression would require a high F, whenever ‘m’ and/or ‘a’ are high. So, it should make sense for F to be a product of the two. (Try to think of a better visualisation yourself and leave it in the comments or mail us at

Remembering Formulas: One month rule

The last thing that you need to do, for remembering formulas, which if done, will help you remember formulas all your life, is practice. But since we are talking about smart ways, once again I am going to tell you a smart way to practice. And the smart way to practice is to practice what you learnt at least once again within a month of learning it for the first time (but at least after 15 days). This is because, in the learning curve that you saw above, you would have reached the asymptote of the learning curve and then you can not slide back.

Besides all these techniques, testing yourself at regular intervals is always a smart thing to do. It helps you pick  any loose spots that might be there, so to say. So, I hope these techniques help you in learning and remembering formulas more effectively. Good luck for all your future endeavors.

P.S. – Here are some more techniques on memory retention.

An alumnus of IIT Bombay himself, Bhanu Pratap has spent more than five years coaching students for IIT. In his new role as Product Manager at Plancess, Bhanu is helping us create a platform that can provide the student the experience of a personal tutor. In his spare time he likes sharing his vision and experience through blogs.

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