Millions of animals are grouped by their characteristics into phyla, of which there are more than 30. Remembering them can be difficult; each phylum has a unique name that can be difficult to spell, much less remember. Begin by committing the spelling to memory, then use different tricks to memorize the phyla. Practice the tricks days before a big test to make sure they work or to fine-tune them if they don't. It may be helpful to know whether you are mostly an auditory, visual or kinesthetic learner before you choose a memorization trick.
Organize the animal phylum into the nine most common phyla -- Porifera, Cnidaria, Platyhelminthes, Nematoda, Mollusca, Annelida, Arthropoda, Echinodermata and Chordata -- or memorize all 30. Create funny or interesting sentences that you can easily remember using the first letter of each phylum name, or make sentences that begin with the first letter of the phylum then describe aspects of the phylum. For example, remember the nine phyla with a sentence like, "Prince Charles Plays Needless Music And Always Eats Cucumbers."
Flash cards can be especially helpful in remembering certain characteristics of the animals grouped into phyla. Paste photocopies of animals that best represent the phyla on one side of the card, then list the most important aspects of the phyla on the other side. For example, use a peanut worm to represent the Sipunculida phylum, which contains 330 species of worms that are unsegmented, short and can retract back inside itself for protection. Practice with the flash cards until you can recall the name and characteristics of each phyla.
Find an online game that features phyla memorization tricks. Answer the questions within the time allotted and play the game as many times as possible to learn the phyla. Take breaks from the game to reread sections of your books and refresh your memory. Write down questions you didn't know the answer to and look them up in your books. Also, create an online phyla game of your own with questions specific to your class using simple templates.
Study with a Partner
Find a partner to study with, which can encourage you to try harder and therefore retain the information more quickly. The other person may also share new information and new memorization techniques. Quiz each other using flash cards, asking sample test questions and having a friendly competition to see who can list the most characteristics of each phylum.
About the Author
Cara Murphy holds a Master of Arts in communication with an emphasis in online journalism. Murphy is a stay-at-home mom who has worked as a writer for several years and appreciates that writing allows her to spend more time with her son.