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The process of association involves relating what you want to learn with something you already know. This helps increase the likelihood you will remember the new information at a later time. Association techniques can also help you to recall information. There are many ways to associate information including using analogies, metaphors, examples, and by comparing, contrasting, or rewording. Learning can be further strengthened by making multiple associations.

By associating new information with information you already know decreases the amount of learning you have to do. This is because you are taking advantage of what you already know and applying it to a new situation.

Learning names by association

One technique for learning names is to associate the person you have just been introduced to with another person you already know with the same name. The person you associate them with can be anyone — friend, family member, famous person, or historical figure.


An effective way to memorize dates is to associate them with dates that are already significant for you such as your birthday, or a major holiday. This can also be used for remembering general times such as I have to get my oil changed around the first day of summer.


Memorizing numbers can be made easier if they can be associated with numerical information you already know. The following example is an extension of using dates as described above. If I need to remember the street address ’29’ and your birthday happens to be on the 29th you can associate the street address with your birthday.

Other numbers that you likely already know include your phone number, important dates, your street address, or your PIN number for your bank card.

Using association to aid recall

The information above describes ways to use association when learning and remembering information. However, association can sometimes be helpful when trying to recall something. If you are having troubles remembering something, it can be helpful to think of as much related information as possible. This increases the chance that you will trigger an association and remember what you were trying to remember — a process called cued recall.

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