Return to home pageWhat's in the news  
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Can you remember these phone numbers?

 

Start with the four-digit number below. Read it aloud, cover it with your hand and try to recall it from memory. Continue down the list to find the longest number you can remember. This is called your digit span.

Click on 'Show' to see the number, and 'Hide' to conceal it while you test your recall.

 

  4 digits  
  5 digits  
  6 digits  
  7 digits  
  8 digits  
  9 digits  
  10 digits  
  11 digits  
  12 digits  
  13 digits  
  14 digits  


How many could you remember?

 

Is it easier when you say the numbers aloud?

 

Try saying the days of the week in between the digits when you repeat them back?

 

Most people find this very difficult and can only manage a few numbers.

 

Most people can remember between 5 and 9 digits so long as they keep repeating the numbers to themselves. This is the limit of your working memory, the part of your memory you use to remember things short-term.

 

A mobile phone number of ten or eleven digits is too long for your working memory. This is why it's very difficult to repeat the number in your head.

 

People use different methods to memorise new phone numbers. Do the numbers remind you of a historical date or might they form a rhythm when said aloud? Are any of the digits the same as your house number or someone's age? Do two numbers add up to make a third?

 

Another, far less efficient way to remember a phone number, is simply to repeat it over and over - and eventually it will enter your long-term memory.