The Peg System: Memorizing Lists in Sequence

You will never forget how to count from 1 to 20 or your ABCs.

The numbers 1 to 20 and your ABCs are abstract sequences you learn at a very early age.

Using the Peg System, we can exploit these sequences to memorize lists in order.

We can do this by associating images to these abstract sequences.

The problem is that if you try and associate images to numbers or letters it’s extremely hard to visualize a memorable picture because these sequences are abstract.

The Peg System solves this by turning abstract numbers and letters into concrete images.


Using the Peg System


To use the Peg System you first need to create your hooks, or pegs.

Pegs can be created by one of three methods: number-rhyme pegs, number-shape pegs, alphabet pegs.

The number of pegs you want to remember is totally up to the length of lists that you need to remember.

If you are constantly needing lists longer than ten items, you can memorize 100 pegs if you want!

The Number-Rhyme Peg System

The Number-Rhyme Peg System is likely the easiest system to learn.

It takes a matter of five minutes.

With this system, the images for the pegs are derived by choosing words that rhyme with the number.

Here’s a list you can use for numbers 1 through 10:

1 – Sun
2 – Shoe
3 – Tree
4 – Door
5 – Hive
6 – Sticks
7 – Heaven
8 – Bait
9 – Vine
10 – Hen

Peg System 1

Take a few minutes to memorize this list and ensure you can recall all ten numbers without looking.

It shouldn’t be too difficult, the images all rhyme with the numbers.

Remember to use as many techniques from Chapter 2 to visualize the images as you can.

To use the method you need a list of items you want to memorize.

Take the first item in the list and imagine it interacting with the first peg.

Continue until your entire list is complete.

Here’s a silly example for two random items:

The Sun is glaring down on an orange carrot.

The sun so hot that the carrot starts on fire and turns all black and charred.

Peg System 2

A man is walking down the sidewalk and his shoe lands into a big puddle of soup.

The shoe gets all wet and smelly.

Peg System 3

To recall the list you memorized you simply need to visualize in your mind’s eye the peg associated with the image you want to remember.

To remember the second item in your list (two – shoe), visualize the shoe and you will see it stepping in the big puddle of soup.

Each of the remaining systems function exactly the same as the Number Rhyme Peg System, they just use a different method to derive the sequence.

The Number-Shape Peg System

The Number-Shape Peg System functions the same as the Number-Rhyme Peg System, but it uses the shape of the numbers to assign images, instead of their phonetic sound.

Here’s an example list:

1 – Pencil
2 – Swan
3 – Heart
4 – Sail
5 – Hook
6 – Golf Club
7 – Edge of a Cliff
8 – Hourglass
9 – Balloon on a Stick
10 – Fork next to Plate

Peg System 4

You can pick either system to use. It’s totally personal preference.

Hybrid System

You can combine both systems together to create a peg system containing twenty sequences allowing you to memorize twice as much.

This is great because images 1 through 10 are easy to rhyme, while 10 through 20 are hard.

Images 10-20 can be represented by the Number-Shape Peg System as if the number was a single digit number.

Here’s how it works:

Images 1 through 10 come from the Number-Rhyme Peg System and images 11 through 20 come from the Number-Shape Peg System.

For images 11 through 20, you drop the first digit, so 11 = 1, 12 = 2 etc.

Thus, our 20 pegs become:

1 – Sun
2 – Shoe
3 – Tree
4 – Door
5 – Hive
6 – Sticks
7 – Heaven
8 – Bait
9 – Vine
10 – Hen
11 – Pencil
12 – Swan
13 – Heart
14 – Sail
15 – Hook
16 – Golf Club
17 – Edge of a Cliff
18 – Hourglass
19 – Balloon on a Stick
20 – Fork next to Plate

Peg System 5

The Alphabet Peg System

The Alphabet Peg System has one big advantage and one big disadvantage to the two previously mentioned systems.

Since the alphabet has 26 letters, you automatically have a system that is twice as large.

However, the alphabet sequence isn’t associated to numbers, so if you were asked to recall the 10th item in a series you would likely have to count in your mind A, B, C… until you found the 10th letter (J).

There are two ways to derive images from this technique: concrete images or sound-a-like images.

Here are example concrete images:

A – Alligator
B – Boy
C – Cat
D – Dog
E – Egg
F – Fig
G – Goat
H – Hat
I – Ice
J – Jack
K – Kite
L – Log
M – Man
N – Nut
O – Owl
P – Pig
Q – Quill
R – Rock
S – Sock
T – Toy
U – Umbrella
V – Vane
W – Wig
X – X-Ray
Y – Yak
Z – Zoo

Peg System 6

Here’s a sample list of sound-a-like images:

A – Hay
B – Bee
C – See
D – Deed
E – Eve
F – Effort
G – Jeep
H – Age
I – Eye
J – Jay
K – Key
L – El
M – Hem
N – Hen
O – Hoe
P – Pea
Q – Cue
R – Oar
S – Sass
T – Tea
U – Ewe
V – Veal
W – Double You
X – Ax
Y – Wire
Z – Zebra

Advantages Over Other Systems


The Peg System is a fantastic system that can quickly be learned.

Within minutes of learning this system, you can see significant increase in memory retention.

Aside from its ease, there are four main benefits.

1. Pegs Allow Direct Retrieval

The Link and Journey Systems you will learn in the following chapters do not allow you to directly retrieve a specific item in a sequence.

If you wanted to know the eighth item in your sequence you have to run through the entire sequence in your mind to find the item.

2. Pegs Can be Repeatedly Used

A limitation you will soon learn is that a specific sequence in the Journey Method can only be used once.

The same list of pegs can be used multiple times.

This means that you can your first peg (1 – sun) and use it to memorize multiple different items.

3. Multiple Pegs Can be Used to Represent the Same Sequence

The Number-Rhyme, Number-Shape and Alphabet Peg Systems can all be used interchangeably for flexibility.

Like you saw in the hybrid model, you can mix and match the systems into something that works best for you.

4. Pegs Can be Combined with the Link Method or the Journey Method

Pegs can be used in conjunction with the Journey Method and the Link Method enhancing its usefulness tenfold.

You just finished Chapter 3. Congratulations! Now it’s time to dig into the next visual memory technique, the Link System. This system is the easiest system to learn that will allow you to remember anything in order. I’m going to show you exactly how to use this system in under five minutes and how you can use it in your everyday life.


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