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I used to just memorize them by practice (repeating them out loud or through flashcards) or associating them with words that also contain that prefix. If worse comes to worst, the equation sheet will have a few conversion factors.
Before when I wasn't as confident with them, I would try to think of other words with the prefixes to help me (ex. decathlon, cent, millennium). If you can't come up with any, or if you have trouble memorizing them, I'm sure there are several mnemonics online that can make it easier.
When I took psychology in high school, my teacher said the best way to prefixes and other words is to come up with a goofy term for it, and studies have shown that mnemonics are greatly beneficial and actually work.
For me, a table was actually the most helpful for me! I used the table for every problem I completed until I was naturally doing it without checking the table because it became a force of habit! Maybe try to memorize them in order so you don't have to match them up individually, but you know the listing order!
samanthaywu wrote:Does anyone have effective strategies for memorizing the prefixes for units? (like mega- kilo- deca- milli-, etc.)
I think quizlet is a good way to learn it and a good alternative to actual flashcards.
This may not be overly specific, but whenever looking at a prefix I'm unsure of, then I try to think of another word I know already that effectively contains the same prefix. For example, I know that a CENTury is a period of 100 years, so I can assume that a unit with the prefix centi- will relate to the base unit by a factor of 100, or 10^2. Unfortunately, learning which prefixes are larger or smaller than the base unit (i.e. a centimeter is smaller than a meter) came down to rote memorization for me, but the aforementioned strategy made the task of comprehending the prefixes' meanings far less daunting for sure. I hope this helps!
On a separate note, if you're worried about prefix memorization for the sake of doing well on one of the exams, I wouldn't worry to much. On the constants and equations sheet on Dr. Lavelle's website, all of the units that are likely to appear on an exam are listed as a measure of the base unit, albeit in the abbreviated form. For example, 1 nm = 10^-9 m. The only exception is that 1 liter is described in cubic decimeters. As long as you remember that 1 dm = 10^-1 m, everything else you might need is given to you.
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