One of the most important formulas in high school mathematics is the quadratic formula. It is used to solve problems of the form, 0 = ax2 + bx + c. It looks like this:

x = (-b ± √ (b2-4ac)) /2a

And it is read like this:

“x equals negative b plus or minus the square root of b squared minus 4ac all over 2a.”

In Algebra, students are taught how to develop this formula. After that, it is crucial that they commit it to memory. But some students have a harder time than others with memorization. Here's a quick quiz that your teen can take to determine her “Learning Style” in order to figure out the best way to memorize not only this formula, but anything else she wants to commit to memory.

Have your teen take this quick quiz. Then, read through it together and practice the appropriate learning strategy.

Quiz: What Is My Learning Style?

  1. How do you sound out a new spelling word? a) Write it down to see if looks right b) Say it out loud to hear if it sounds right c) Finger spell it in the air
  2. When you are bored in line at the amusement park, do you… a) Look around at the surroundings b) Strike up a conversation c) Hop up and down on the railing
  3. When you meet someone new, you remember: a) Their face, but not their name b) Their name, but not their face c) What you were doing when you met the person.
  4. When you go to a party, do you later think about: a) The way the house looked/ what people wore b) The things you heard or talked about c) The things you did/ate
  5. When you are angry, do you: a) Make angry gestures, expressions b) Yell c) Stomp around or throw things
  6. Which one would you do to relax: a) Read b) Listen to Music c) Play, dance, move
  7. The way you prefer to learn to do something new is to:  a) Read the instructions b) Have someone describe how to do it c) Just try it and see what happens
  8. Which is most distracting to your study environment? a) Lights that are too bright or dark b) Unexpected noise c) An uncomfortable chair
  9. What kind of camp would you choose: a) Art Camp b) Music Camp c) Sports Camp
  10. When you need to remember a phone number, you: a) Visualize the numbers in your head b) Remember what it sounds like c) Let your fingers pick out the numbers without thinking


If you got mostly “a’s”, you are probably a visual learner. You learn best by looking at something and remembering the picture in your brain.

If you got mostly “b’s,” you are probably an auditory learner. You learn best by hearing and talking things over.

If you got mostly “c’s,” you are probably a kinesthetic leaner. You learn best by doing things with your body, and linking concepts to movement.

Here's how to use your learning style to your advantage, using the example of memorizing the Quadratic Formula:

Memorization Strategies for Visual Learners:

  • If you're a visual learner, you must spend time seeing whatever it is you need to memorize. Your eyes are the key to remembering.
  • When the teacher writes a new formula on the board, stare at it for thirty seconds to form a visual picture. When you need to remember it, pull up that “snapshot” in your mind.
  • Write the formula down in your notes with a special color. Remembering the color will help you visualize your notes.
  • If you need to learn something like the quadratic formula quickly, make several flash cards with the formula written out. Tape them strategically around the house: beside your bed, on the mirror, on the wall by the dinner table. Looking at the flash cards over and over will burn the image into your memory.

Memorization Strategies for Auditory Learners:

  • If you are an auditory learner, you need to hear and speak whatever it is that you need to memorize. Your ears help you remember.
  • If you have a study partner, have her ask you the quadratic formula so that you can tell it back to her. If you get it wrong, have her read you the formula. Then, try again!
  • If you really want to remember something, turn it into a song! The quadratic formula goes quite nicely with the tune to “Pop Goes The Weasel.” “x equals negative b Plus or minus the square root Of b squared minus 4 a c All over 2 a”
  • If you don't know “Pop Goes the Weasel,” you can make up your own tune, or look it up on the Internet.
  • One other strategy is to recite the formula on tape, and play it back to yourself while you drive or do chores.

Memorization Strategy for Kinesthetic Learners:

  • If you are a kinesthetic learner, you need to be active to learn best. Your muscles remember a lot of things.
  • The first strategy is to write the formula over and over again. Your finger muscles will start to “remember” the formula over time. It helps to say the formula out loud as you go, to get your mouth muscles involved.
  • The second strategy is to move your whole body while you say the formula. Find a ball, and bounce it as you recite the formula. Finding a good “beat” will help your body retain the information. When you need to remember the formula, tap your foot in time to the beat.
  • If you're really serious, you can act out the formula with your body. Make up moves that represent x, a, b, and c. You're sure to remember it if your whole body gets involved.