Memorise the Periodic Table

Uh oh. There's a chemistry test coming up and your teacher wants you to memorize the entire periodic table of the elements. Great. But luckily, with a bit of time and dedication, you can make recalling the table like recalling the alphabet. It'll be as easy as A, B, C!


The Basics

  1. Print out a copy of the periodic table. This will be your Bible for the next couple of weeks. Wherever you go, it will go with you. It's advisable to print out more than one copy. You can highlight and code one however you want and use the next to start over or check if your devices have worked.
    • Print out a copy. Then, especially if you're a visual or kinesthetic learner, copy it down yourself. It's easier to know the ins and outs of something you've done yourself; the chart will seem less foreign if it's made by you.
  2. Breakdown the table into smaller sections to learn it. Most charts are already divided by color and type of element, but if that's not working for you, find your own way. You could go by row, column, atomic weight, or simply easiest to hardest. Find patterns that stick out to you.
  3. Zap into your free time. Try learning the periodic table when not much else can be done, e.g. traveling by public transport or just waiting in the line for something. If you don't have the chart handy (which you should), go over it in your head, concentrating on the ones that are eluding your memory.
    • Stick with it! Learn a few every day and always review the old ones! If you don't review and quiz yourself, you will forget.

Mind Tricks

  1. Create associations. For each element, memorize a short slogan, story or fact that is related to the metal you need to memorize the symbol for. For example, Argentina was named after the metal silver (Argentum -- Ag) because when the Spanish landed there, they thought that the country had lots of silver.
    • Sometimes, you might make something funny to remember the element -- for example," 'EY! YOU! Give me back my GOLD!" could help as well since the symbol for gold is Au.
  2. Go for mnemonic devices. That means you'll be using words to associate with each element. They often come in strings or rhymes. Lilly's NAna Kills RuBbish CreatureS FRanticly is an example of a mnemonic device to help remember the alkali metals.
    • Ignore the easy ones. You're probably pretty confident that hydrogen is "H." Concentrate on the ones that are giving you grief. Here's an example: Darmstadtium is "Ds," right? If you want a mnemonic for that one, try "DARN! STATS for my game were all lost on my Nintendo 'DS' because the power went out!".
  3. Use pictures. Many people with ridiculously good memories use pictures to associate. Why does everybody know that A is for Apple? Our brains associate words with pictures automatically. Assign each element with a picture -- anything that makes sense to you.
    • Give the items in your house an element. Label them. Let's say your chair is hydrogen. Label it with a hydrogen bomb, picturing it blowing up. Give your TV a mouth -- it's oxygen and it's breathing. When you go to take your test, close your eyes and walk through your house, recalling all your associations.
  4. Memorize in song. If Daniel Radcliffe can do it, so can you.[1] You can either create your own or go on the internet and watch the gems that others have created. If you thought one version is a lot, you'll be pleasantly surprised.
    • And just for people like you, there are karaoke versions, too, to help you check your progress. Isn't the internet amazing?[2]

Origins and Patterns, etc.

  1. Know the Latin names. All symbols can be regarded as English abbreviations, except for ten that have Latin names and abbreviations and one (Wolfram) whose name can be considered of German origin. Excluding Antimony and Tungsten, these are all important and frequently used elements.
    • Knowing the Latin names as well enables you to decipher most Latin names of inorganic chemicals. In most Romance languages (French, Italian, Spanish, etc.), the present day word is derived from the Latin>
  2. Zero in on the differences. Element symbols tend to have two letters. This is the full list of element symbols that have only one letter:
    • Except for may be V, W and Y, these are all important elements on this table. The symbols D and T (not in this list) are sometimes used for the heavier isotopes of Hydrogen (H). D2O is heavy water.
  3. Spot the unique ones. The last elements that got their names are Nihonium (Nh), Moscovium (Mc), Tennessine (Ts) and Oganesson (Og), numbers 113, 115, 117, and 118, whose names were changed from Ununtrium, Ununpentium, Ununseptium and Ununoctium, respectively.

The Entire List

  • Learning tools such as flash cards will help you to memorize the periodic table.

Printable Periodic Table

Doc:Periodic Table


  • Some websites offer quizzes on the periodic table. If you don't have a friend nearby to help, it's a good alternative.
  • The noble gases in their correct downward order are important because of their electron configuration.
  • Test yourself with learning which elements are metals, non metals and the groups the elements are in the what a set of elements are known as, e.g. the noble gases and alkaline metals.
  • Repeat the elements in your head, over and over, wherever you are.
  • Actinoids = Three Planets: Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto. Amy Cured Berkeley, California. Einstein and Fermi Made Noble Laws.
  • Lanthanoids = Ladies Can't Put Nickels Properly in Slot-machines. Every Girl Tries Daily, However, Every Time You Look.
  • Make your own periodic table song. Most of the periodic table songs end at 10. You can find your very own catchy beat and make your own periodic table song that surpasses 10.
  • You probably won't be asked about the newer, man-made elements. These are newly discovered, man-made, radioactive and possibly dangerous elements.
  • The Periodic Table Song by AsapSCIENCE lists all the elements up to 118 in the right order. It hasn't got the updated names for elements 113, 115, 117 and 118, but it is still a useful song for the other 114 elements.


  • Be careful not to mix up the elements with the wrong symbols! You have to know them together.
  • Remember that the first letter of a symbol is a capital letter and the letter/letters after the capital letter are lowercase.


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Sources and Citations