Memory Test


  • Ask participants to have a piece of paper and a writing utensil handy.
  • Tell them you are going to read off a list of words, but they can’t write any of the words down until you have finished reading off the entire list. Participants must try and recall as many words as possible and write them down. 
  • Read this list in order, do not change the sequence. One word is repeated 3 times.


  1. Dream               10. Artichoke
  2. Sleep                 11. Insomnia
  3. Night                 12. Blanket
  4. Mattress            13. Night
  5. Snooze              14. Alarm
  6. Sheet                 15. Nap
  7. Nod                   16. Snore
  8. Tired                  17. Pillow
  9. Night


  • After you have finished reading off the words, give participants 1-2 minutes to write down as many words as they remember you saying.
  • Ask participants to count up how many words they wrote down and write that number somewhere on their paper.


Debriefing Topics


  • How did you do? How many words did you get?
  • There are a few specific teaching points to highlight from this exercise:
  • 1st and last word: Ask participants if they got Dream and Pillow. Most people will get both of these words.  Why? They are the first and last thing you said.  Participants will remember the first thing you say and the last thing you say.  How does this relate to giving directions?
  • Repetition effect: Ask if they got the word night.  It was repeated three times.  Repeat really important directions multiple times.
  • Surprise effect: Artichoke.  Almost everyone will get this.  People remember surprises.
  • False-memory effect: Ask if they got the word bed.  (You didn’t say bed.  And yet people will write it down!)  People will fill in the gaps with associated things.