How to Memorize Acupuncture Points and TCM Herbs – Rote Learning
Updated: Apr 22
Here at JJTCMC we make the authentic accessible to all audiences. In this blog series on study tips for TCM and Acupuncture, we will offer some study methods to consider on your journey throughout your Acupuncture and Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) education. Note that these study tools and techniques can be applied to any subject be it TCM, Acupuncture, or other. Remember, equip yourself with the tools you need to succeed now and throughout your professional career; this means that the aim is not to simply remember something to pass a test; rather, it is to commit information to your long term memory. Now, here is the problem: what is the quickest or most effective ways to commit things to long term memory? At JJTCMC, we empower and encourage our students to work smart not hard; read on to learn how!
Today’s discussion is focused on Rote Learning.
What is it?
The memorization of information based on repetition
How to do it?
Repeat, repeat, repeat the information that you need to memorize ad nauseam.
Traditionally, rote learning repetition is verbal (saying the information aloud) or written (akin to writing lines as punishment)
Do we recommend it?
DO NOT use this as your only technique. This method is akin to cramming for an examination and if you do not continue this routine past an examination you will surely forget everything and all of your efforts will be for not in the grander scheme of your professional career. This, in our opinion, is a great example of working hard but not working smart.
DO use the principle of this technique - the idea of repeating information to memorize - BUT modify how you repeat information such that you maximize your memorizing efforts by committing more information to memory in shorter time. How? Continue reading the blog entries for this series to discover how to create your own effective memorization routine to continue to repeat.
Rote Learning Tool Kit
You can create your own digitally or physically. You may also opt to purchase flash cards for select TCM topics including but not limited to acupuncture points, materia medica, and TCM fundamentals.
Charts are great as they are easy to cover information to test yourself. Also, what’s more important about a chart is that it requires the amount of information to be memorized to be extremely concise.
As an example, the Handbook of Oriental Medicine by HB Kim, LAc, PhD. employs numerous charts for study. However, it is recommended that you create your own charts (even using MS Excel), from your class notes; it is easier to learn and memorize when you continue to use your own words or the same words that your teachers use rather than those published in a book.
There are plenty of Pan Canadian Examination or NCCAOM Examination preparation courses (like TCM Review, or LIFT Education) that target graduating student audiences and provide a structured self-study portal to help students remain on track in their self-study schedule to prepare to sit their licensing examinations (such an exam preparation course is included in our diploma program). These courses often come packaged with a plethora of prepared notes and charts for students to use in their studies and future reference in clinic.
There are also some, for example Kenton Sefcik, who have since graduated from a TCM program, became licensed, started working in clinic, and have published the notes that they compiled as a student for other students and practitioners to use in their studies and/or practice.
Though the thought of paying for someone to write your own notes or getting someone to give you their own notes is extremely appealing as a student, we wish to stress that information is more readily consolidated into your memory when using your own words and visualizations. Also, note taking and the consolidation of your notes into study materials is itself a form of study which contributes to your learning and memorization of the material in question. Finally, scientific studies continue to demonstrate that hand-written notes are superior to digital note taking as the former leads to longer memory retention.
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