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How to recall long numbers

How to remember numbers using the Major System

Memorising a string of numbers can seem difficult. You may get the first 4 or 5, or maybe even more, but beyond that it’s often a struggle. Whether it’s a phone number, your bank card number, a password, or simply a trick to impress someone, you may want to learn how to memorise long numbers and recite them back without any trouble at all. Well, good news! There is a simple trick to help you remember and recall numbers quickly.

The most renowned and effective method is the Major System. But what is it and how can it help?

The Major System

The system is named after Major Beniowski, but he did not actually invent it. That credit should be given to Aimé Paris who created the first known version of this technique in the 1800s. Beniowski developed and refined this method and made it into a more widespread system that could be applied in the real world.

How does the Major System work?

The Major System is all about associations and linking numbers to letters and words. We can remember how to spell words and memorise text much easier than numbers purely because they create an image and story in our minds. In other words, they make sense. Numbers on the other hand, don’t summon up these images and are abstract subjects that make it much more difficult to remember sequentially.

However, by allocating a letter to a number, you can start to learn to recall longer numbers. First though, you have to learn which letters go with which numbers. There’s no easy way to do this apart from repetition and practice, but this effort will pay off!

Crucially, all the letters are consonants (the reason for which you shall see later), and they are listed below:

0 – S

1 – D or T

2 – N

3 – M

4 – R

5 – L

6 – J

7 – K

8 – F

9 – P

Once you have learnt which letter goes with which number, then you are all set to memorise any number quickly and easily.

Using the Major System to remember long numbers

When you are confronted with a sequence of numbers, using the Major System, you substitute the numbers for letters. Now you have a row of consonants. But how can this help you to memorise the number?

Well, the trick is to then put in vowels between the consonants to make words. This forces you to chunk the numbers/letters into sections and words, which will enable you to create vivid images that are personal to you. This should be much easier for you to remember and recall than a bland list of figures!

When you want to recall the figures again, you just convert the letters back to numbers.

Here’s an example…

Starting with a simple number can help to illustrate this technique. Take 22. Using the Major System, this is equivalent to NN. You can then put in an A or a U to make it say NaN or NuN, both of which should conjure up an image in your mind of either your grandma or a nun.

Admittedly, 22 is an easy number to remember anyway, but you will see the benefits of this system when it comes to long numbers!

The key is to chunk the numbers and letters into words and images that are relevant to you, and also to make them so vivid that you have no chance of forgetting them!

You can practice this technique everywhere you see a number so you can become more skilled and faster at it. It seems long-winded and slow at first, but soon converting numbers to letters to words and back to numbers will seem second-nature!

You will then be able to impress everyone with your ability to memorise long numbers, seemingly without any effort at all!

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