How To Memorise The Periodic Table: Easy Memorisation Tricks
No doubt you have seen the large table of colours and capitalised letters hanging on the wall of your science classroom. As confusing and colourful as it looks, the periodic table of elements is a great tool to have memorised as it is the foundation that kickstarts your understanding of elements, atomic numbers, groups, and properties of the microscopic components that make up our world.
The importance of learning how to memorise the periodic table goes hand in hand with succeeding in chemistry. As you progress throughout your schooling, these concepts become assumed knowledge that will inform your understanding of more complex concepts. Through flashcards and other memorisation techniques, you can learn the periodic table to best suit how you learn!
How To Read The Periodic Table
The goal of memorising the periodic table is to learn the features that go along with every element. To do this, you’ve got to know how to read the table itself! If you feel like you need extra help in chemistry, it is best to start by understanding the elements!
- The periodic table is made up of 118 elements situated in 18 columns (known as groups) and 7 rows (known as periods)
- The periods mean the elements in that row have similar physical properties
- The groups mean the elements in that column react with other elements in similar ways
- Each element includes an atomic number, symbol, element name, and atomic mass
- The atomic number is the number of electrons in the atom
- The one or two-letter symbol represents the element
- On top of this, there are 10 categories of elements that are coloured on the table
How To Memorise The Periodic Table – 4 Memorisation Tricks
There are many ways to memorise the periodic table; but flashcards, acronyms and acrostics, songs, and mental imagery are all proven tactics to learn large amounts of information.
Memorisation as a study tool is one that takes lots of effective time management and commitment. The following memorisation tricks can be widely used and have the ability to positively impact long-term information retention, especially memorising the periodic table.
We know that repetition isn’t the most effective memorisation technique on its own, but when paired with flashcards, this trick can make a world of difference. The act of creating flashcards and physically using them is considered an active way of learning.
For the periodic table, you have the opportunity to physically write flashcards testing the names and all the other features of the periodic table (eg. by colour-coding the cards you can test your knowledge of the category of the element).
Flashcards suit visual and kinesthetic learners best, as the act of making the cards and developing your own visual diary of the elements helps these types of learners best.
There are no shortcuts with flashcards. They are an active and convenient way to use repetition and practice recall but can be a time-consuming way to memorise all 118 elements in the periodic table.
Acronyms and Acrostics
Acronyms and acrostics are ‘first letter mnemonics’ that use the first letter of a word to form catchy and memorable phrases.
You could use the acronym HHeLiBeBCNOF (pronounced ‘heeliebeb kernoff’) to remember the first nine chemical elements. It doesn’t form a word, but it condenses nine names into one mental prompt, so there is less to remember.
You can also use the acrostic “Here He Lies Beneath Bed Clothes, Nothing On, Feeling Nervous”, to memorise the first ten elements.
This technique is definitely one for the auditory learner, as repetitive listening and reciting of the acronym or acrostic is the best way for an auditory learner to memorise the periodic table.
However, if every mnemonic includes 10 elements, you’ll need 18 mnemonics to cover the whole table. That’s no easy task!
An almost resumé-worthy talent is being able to recite the periodic table in song.
Songs spice up the repetition component of memorisation which makes the process more enjoyable. Although, this does not mean that you don’t have to do lots of repetition!
A risk in using songs is if you get the wrong lyric in your head. Your verbal memory will remember what you think you hear and this can compound into learning the incorrect order or element.
If you are a visual learner your brain loves pictures! That makes visual memory techniques more powerful than verbal memory techniques (like songs and acronyms) to memorise the periodic table.
The way mental imagery works is by creating mental pictures and linking them together in your mind to form a journey. Think of a particular journey you take every day, and picture certain locations along the way. For example, your trip to school.
‘Hydrogen’ sounds similar to ‘hydrant’, so when you visualise a hydrant, you’ll be prompted to remember the element. When you picture a large helium balloon lifting the hydrant off the ground, you’ll remember ‘helium’.
The weakness of this method is the amount of time it takes to create the story to link all the chemical elements together. Yet when this is done, you just travel the journey and see each image in your mind and repeat, repeat, repeat!
Learning The Periodic Table Can Be Simple!
The memorisation tools provided above are by no means the end of the approaches you can take to learning the periodic table.
If these tools get you thinking that you need some more help improving your chemistry grade, A Team Tuition is here to help. Our tried and true tutoring methods can help you improve in any subject with at-home and online tutoring. Find a tutor near you today!