An Easy Way to Learn the Cranial Nerves

By Laura Leiva

For a nursing student, there are oftentimes vast amount of information you must retain to pass an exam. When studying, trying various methods to help you remember concepts and terms is a suitable way to prepare for a test. One simple way to learn the cranial nerves and their functions is to assign them a mnemonic to help you remember which terms are placed where. A mnemonic is a series of rhymes or letter associations that work like an acronym, helping you recall information.

Mnemonic for the Cranial Nerves

Write out the list of cranial nerves:

Olfactory nerve Optic nerve Oculomotor nerve Trochlear nerve Trigeminal nerve Abducens nerve Facial nerve Vestibulocochlear nerve Glossopharyngeal nerve Vagus nerve Accessory nerve Hypoglossal nerve

Assign an easy rhyme or saying that uses the first letter of each cranial nerve to create your sentence. For example, one mnemonic for learning the cranial nerves can be: On Occasion Oscar Tells Timmy About Funny Vegetables Grandma Verna Always Had.

Practice remembering which acronym was associated with cranial nerves. Once you remember the order, you will be able to devote time to remembering exact terms.

Mnemonic for Function

Differentiate the cranial nerves by remembering whether they are sensory, motor or both. You may use a mnemonic to help you remember this portion of your exam as well.

Assign the sensory nerves with an “S,” motor nerves with an “M” and nerves that do both with a “B.”

Create your mnemonic to help you remember which nerves are sensory, motor or both. One example may be: Sally Says Mark Mumbles, But Mark Begs Sally “Bug Me More!”