4 Steps to Creating a Memory Palace to Help You Pass Your Firefighter Promotional Exam

When you sit down to take your firefighter promotional exam, don’t let your nerves get the best of you. Improve your brain's recall by creating memory palaces as you work on your firefighter promotional exam prep, so you can pass your promotional exam on the first try. 

What is a Memory Palace?

The Memory Palace is an ancient memorization strategy that is guaranteed to improve your recall. It is a simple tool anyone can use to help them improve their recall and ace a test through the use of visual association in a familiar space. 

How to Make a Memory Palace

  1. Identify Your Memory Palace

The first step in creating a memory palace is to pick a place.  You need to be sure you choose a location you are extremely familiar with that you can visualize with your mind. It could be your living room, kitchen, bedroom, or even your fire station. It just needs to be a place you know very well. You need to be able to not only see the space you are using to create your palace, but you must be able to move through it in your mind. Create a floor plan of this space in your mind, what do you see as you move through this space? You will want to be able to see the things in this space in the same order each time you walk through your memory palace. 

You may use other spaces for other memory palaces down the road as well. 

  1. Identify Objects in Your Palace

Now that you have picked your space you need to be able to walk through it and identify specific items that you see. You want to remember the items in the same order each time and you should walk the same linear path every time you enter your memory palace. Each item you identify is called a memory slot. 

For example, if you decide to use the fire station as your memory palace you could start with opening the front door that you enter every time you start a shift. Then identify the first thing you see when you open that door, it could be a counter, a painting on the wall etc. What do you see after that? Move through the space you’ve chosen, looking for and identifying key objects. 

  1. Memory Slots

Now that you have a path through your memory palace and objects identified it is time to make memory slots. It is critical you do not do this until your path is completely memorized exactly the same way every time. You will take each object you have identified and associate it with something you need to remember for your firefighter promotional exam. It is a good idea to do this in some sort of chronological order so that the information makes sense together when it is time to recall it. This creates a visual association with the information you are learning and your brain making it easier for it to remember it come test day. 

For example, you walk through the front door of the fire station and you see the counter and you need to remember the various types of hazardous materials and their definitions (corrosives, toxins etc). You must combine the signs with the counter. The crazier or cruder the visual association the easier it will be for you to remember. For example, on the counter is a vat of corrosive material and there is a barbie doll melting away inside of it, changing the solid baby doll to a liquid. Then behind the counter is a person drinking from a bottle marked toxin and after taking a sip they lose consciousness, causing an injury. Keep moving through your memory palace creating visual associations with the information you are learning. I recommend starting to build your memory palace at the end of a chapter of your textbook, adding more to your memory palace as you complete chapters. This will keep your memory palace small and moving in chronological order. 

  1. Walk Through Your Memory Palace

Now it is time to walk through your memory palace. The recall is not going to be instant, you are going to need to do it a few times to get your palace in perfect working order. Start at the same place every time and walk the same route and identify the items that have been turned into memory slots and see if you remember it all. When you reach the end of your memory palace you can walk backwards through the palace as well. This will help you solidify your palace and the memory slots. Try to keep it relaxed, it should be a fun exercise to help improve your memory. If you are not a visual learner this memorization technique may be a bit harder for you to master, but I still encourage you to give it a shot.  

The Takeaway

Memory Palaces may seem like more effort than they are work but give it a try. Not only will it reduce your nerves when you take your firefighter promotional exam, but they can also be beneficial when you get promoted and need to recall all of the information you learned on the job. Remember, the crazier the association the easier it will be to remember.