The Sketchy Method: Using Visual Memory and Elaborative Encoding to Make Learning Easier

Sketchy is backed by science! The Sketchy Method utilizes a combination of elaborative encoding and visual memory techniques to optimize learning.

When you think of superpowers—you know, like flying, getting eight hours of sleep each night, invisibility, or clocking 10,000 steps daily—you're probably not thinking of the memorization technique that Greek poets invented over 2,600 years ago. But hear us out, big shots like Bill Gates think the Greeks were onto something super-powerful (bad pun, we know) that revolutionized how humans study, learn and recall information forever. Best part? You can take advantage of this unique and effective learning method in just one click (more on that later).

Method of Loci: an ancient memory technique

Now back to the Greek poets. Sure, tunics and togas aren’t exactly crime-fighting capes, but reciting an endless speech from memory isn’t a bad skill to have—whether you’re dishing out some serious rhetoric at the Parthenon or sitting down to take USMLE Step 1. The thing is, you don’t have to be a superhero with superpowers—those ancient Greeks actually used a visual memory technique called the “Method of Loci” to memorize what we’re sure were absolutely riveting multi-hour speeches. Lyric poetry of Simonides and lore of Demosthenes aside, the Sketchy Method is rooted in the Method of Loci, which today has significant research supporting its effectiveness across many different subjects and areas of study, including medicine. Backed by science, the Sketchy Method utilizes visual and auditory memory activation techniques to make even the most complex topics easy to remember and hard to forget. Now that’s a dynamic duo!


Sketchy takes visual memory techniques to a whole new level

So wait… Sketchy Method, you say? If you think about it, reading and writing are fairly recent developments in human history, but navigating physical spaces—you know, like how to find food, escape danger, and return home—have always been pretty important for survival. Thanks, brain! And what’s cool is, even if you don’t think of yourself as a “visual learner,” the Sketchy Method still works!


We create clever, memorable symbols associated with key information related to the topic at hand, and then we place these symbols in an imagined but familiar visual world, along with extra elaborative encoding elements like color, location, proximity to other symbols, and story—to name just a few.


That’s right, tens of thousands of years of evolution have honed your brain’s capacity to remember how to move around the world—that’s a fundamental human characteristic, which you can tap into with visual memory learning. Our lessons are designed to hijack that innate skill to help you learn medicine, science, and more (stay tuned!).

The Sketchy Method takes visual memory techniques like the Method of Loci and memory palaces to a whole new level. We create clever, memorable symbols associated with key information related to the topic at hand, and then we place these symbols in an imagined but familiar visual world, along with extra elaborative encoding elements like color, location, proximity to other symbols, and story—to name just a few. These visual memory techniques make our symbols especially ‘sticky’ and scientifically easier and quicker to recall. Once we’ve created this visual setting, we then utilize auditory encoding: taking you on a tour, navigating you around a memorable space just like your hunter-gatherer ancestors long ago, crafting short, digestible videos that you can store away essentially forever—just like those… acorns? Roots? Whatever it was that our ancestors were into.

The Sketchy MethodThe Sketchy Method is so effective precisely because it harnesses the power of the brain’s visual spatial storage and visual memory recall capacity. For example, using brain imaging techniques, this study found that in people who use normal approaches to recall, brain activity was centered in just a single area. However, those who use spatial learning techniques had improved recall with increased activity in multiple brain regions—over 20 of them!—known to play important roles in memory. (And you can use the Sketchy Method to remember those regions, too—we have a sketch for that.) Talk about superpowers.


How you can use the Sketchy Method

Okay, so this sounds exciting right? But get even more excited, because as we mentioned before, visual memory recall has even been tested with med students! Yep…and to cut to the chase, it was unsurprisingly superior to reading textbooks. In particular, it appears that visual learning helped students perform better—they scored higher when tested on the material they had been taught, and were able to recall the information significantly faster. That’s exactly the kind of advantage that can make the difference on exams.

But enough about the numbers. Let’s put this super brain power into action—right here, right now. Have a quick look at these pictures of some familiar sights.


With a single glance, barely a thought given, you probably identified and recalled a lot of details about these places, even if you’ve never visited them. Not bad, huh? Your ability to effortlessly remember all this associated information is pretty incredible…so why not capitalize on your visual memory capacity and pair it with new information you’re trying to remember? That’s elaborative encoding, and that's exactly what Sketchy does for you! So, imagine what your brain can do (and what your test scores will look like) pairing Sketchy with focused intentional studying, active recall, and spaced repetition! Using the Sketchy Method, you can unlock the power of your brain and be a visual memory champ. It really is a superpower.

So, what are you waiting for? Sign up for a free trial at and try out the Sketchy Method for yourself (capes sold separately).

Now… where did I put my keys?

🩺 Try Sketchy for free. Sign up today⮕

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