Medical Mnemonist Podcast

Jeopardy Tournament of Champions Memory Tricks with Sam Kavanaugh

Chase DiMarco talks to Sam Kavanaugh, winner of the 29th Jeopardy! Tournament of Champions. They discuss memory techniques, the similarities between preparing for Jeopardy! and studying medicine, and effective flashcard learning strategies.

  • [01:28] Getting to Know Sam Kavanaugh
  • [04:40] Bulking up for Jeopardy!
  • [08:20] Weaving Together Common Threads in Memory Building
  • [13:50] Developing Memory Techniques
  • [17:18] Adding Environmental Stimulus and Difficulty to Study Routines
  • [18:20] How to Learn Faster and Retain More
  • [20:58] Top Tips for Studying and Memory
  • [25:00] Effective Flashcard Learning Strategies

Bulking up for Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! is an award-winning quiz competition where contestants are presented with general knowledge clues in the form of answers and must phrase their responses as questions. Now, you might be wondering, how is Jeopardy! at all related to medicine or studying for medicine? Well, as mentioned earlier, Jeopardy quizzes are based on a wide range of topics. Therefore, contestants must consume and retain large amounts of content, just like medics and medical students.

After four games and 244 clues, Sam Kavanaugh, a teacher from Minneapolis, was recently crowned the winner of Jeopardy!’s 2021 Tournament of Champions. Like most winners, Sam credits his success to years of hard work, training, and working on his weaknesses. He believes that the best way to prepare for such competitions is to treat your memory as a net.

Developing Memory Techniques

If you search through the web, you’ll notice that there are millions of strategies “guaranteed” to help you build and improve your memory. Unfortunately, what works for one person might not necessarily work for you. The good news is that our brains are neuroplastic, meaning that our memory capacity isn’t fixed but somewhat flexible like plastic.

So, what can you do to improve your memory?

First, you need to be creative and design something that incorporates your strengths and weaknesses. Go through several strategies, pull the concepts that work for you, and build them into your technique. The thing to note here is that consuming content is one thing, but regurgitating is a totally different concept.

How to Learn Faster and Retain More

Most students relentlessly consume large amounts of material when preparing for exams. But as a medical student, the ultimate objective of every study schedule should be to retain more content. So, although you’re preparing for a quiz right now, you should aim to keep as much information for the next time you need it.

Link up with Sam via Twitter and relive Sam’s win in The Tournament of Champions

For more study tips, grab a copy of Read This Before Medical School. Don’t forget to leave a rating! Share your experiences, tips, and suggestions to [email protected]. Or you can directly reach out to Chase on LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram. Join the Medical Mnemonist Master Mind Facebook group and find our Blog posts, Podcasts, and other Resources at!

Chase DiMarco

Chase DiMarco is an MS, MBA-HA and MD/Ph.D-candidate. He is the founder of MedEd University, a free medical education resource, the host of the Medical Mnemonist & Rounds to Residency podcasts creator of several medical education platforms, and CEO of FindARotation clinical rotations service.

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