Mind Palace: Your Aid to Memorization for the IAS Exam

It is generally recommended that you don’t cram things for exams. But the truth is there are certain facts and figures that you must commit to memory especially when it comes to facing the UPSC civil services exam. The UPSC syllabus is so vast and encompassing so many subjects that there is no other way to go about it. It is no mean feat to remember a lot of things at the exam hall. There are many memorization techniques that experts have devised to aid better memorization. But there is one technique that is proven to yield excellent results. All it takes is an understanding and practice of this technique before it can be successfully employed in your IAS exam. This memory aid is called the mind palace. It is alternatively called memory palace, memory theatre, the art of memory or the method of loci.

What is the mind palace?

Simply put, a mind palace is a place or places in your mind where you can store information. Invented by the ancient Greeks, this technique relies on the fact that humans remember places better than other things. So basically, you visualize the information you have to remember as being inside a palace or house. Then, as you walk through the structure, you remember details that you need to recall. This is not as difficult as it sounds and can be mastered by a little practice. The memory palace technique can be highly beneficial in your IAS exam where you need to recall a lot of facts and figures. This is particularly useful if you have to remember the order of things as well.

How to use the mind palace technique?

To employ the mind palace technique, follow the steps detailed below:

Pick out your palace

First of all, pick out your palace. It should be a place familiar to you. It could be your own house or any other structure that you are accustomed to. You must be familiar with all the room in this place. When you prepare for the UPSC exam, it is recommended that you use your own study room as your mind palace.

Mark out the distinctive features of your palace

There must be certain features that you can mark out as distinctive. For example, the door to your study room, its handle, objects placed on the study table, post-it on the wall, etc. It could be anything. The only rule is you must be able to vividly see it in when you visualize your mind palace.

Commit the palace to memory

The next step to do is to imprint the palace into your memory. You should be able to recall it and its details whenever you are asked to. A good practice is to draw out your palace in your notebook.

Place the data to be remembered in your palace

The next logical step is to place the various points of data you are expected to remember in the various distinctive marks in your mind palace. This is the key to employing this technique successfully.  Place things strategically by association. Make the associations whacky, nonsensical and even offensive. It is these things that you remember more, isn’t it?

Example:  to remember that the Directive Principles of State Policy, nomination of members to the Rajya Sabha and the method of election of the President are borrowed from the Irish Constitution, you can use the following visualization:

The President is showing/directing another prominent Rajya Sabha member how to drink Irish coffee in your palace kitchen.

Understand that once you make a visual, it is hard to forget it. You can pack a lot of information into a simple visual.

Wander through your palace

The final step is to walk through the palace with all the associations you built, so that you can recall it later without much effort.

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