The Best Amino Acid Mnemonic: Memorize the Amino Acids

Memorizing the amino acids isn’t an easy task. 
But – if you have or pursue a healthcare career – it is an absolutely necessary task. Most people take the route of torture: using Anki or rewriting the structures ad nauseum. These noble methods work short-term – but require the same painstaking maintenance to remember. Eventually, the hard work goes down the toilet. There are nearly 8 billion humans, and few know their own body’s alphabet. Time for a better method. The best mnemonic for the amino acids is the simplest one.

Why Memorize the Amino Acids

8.7 million species are hypothesized to walk this earth.
There are almost 8 billion people alive.
Most know their native alphabet.
Only a handful know biology’s alphabet.

If you have any interest in biology, are a healthcare professional, an MCAT test-taker, a medical student, a nursing student, or a biochemistry student in any form: then, not having memorized the Amino Acids will have serious repercussions for your grades, research literacy, standardized scores, or quality of care. Moreover: in a pharmaceutical-fixated world, the more consistent medicinal doses go overlooked. I speak of daily amino acid intake – food.

Why memorize the Amino Acids if you aren’t in healthcare?

If you are not in the above demographics, you might just be here to understand the fundamental building blocks forming the essence of your current living, breathing form. 
I congratulate you for your curiosity.
This article is meant for all humans of all ages.

If you are a medical professional, or medical school candidate – it is likely your working knowledge of Amino Acids could use improvement. Stick to the end of this article and we will show you a method that is not only easy to adopt, but easy to carry in all walks of life.

The memorization method begets the recall method.

What does this mean?

This means how you spend time learning something is often how you spend time recalling it.


What Are the Amino Acids?

In the Book of Genesis, it is written man was formed of dust.

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.

Genesis 2:7

Life is organized matter.
Matter is Earthly material.
Particles of said material are called dust.
Specifically, there are 20 such flecks of dust.

The Amino Acids aren’t merely cruel torture devices biochemistry students, nurses, medical students, and MCAT Adventurers have to memorize.
What are the Amino Acids?
The Amino Acids are Biology’s alphabet.

Blink twice.
That skin rebounding back to its original form has a blueprint: DNA. Genes get all the limelight for instructing life – but what about their expression?

What about the interlocking alphabet of bricks in your retinae receiving – at this moment – the glowing white light of this text?
If you dissolved yourself – everything your DNA expressed – you’d end up with 20 different building blocks, or Amino Acids.

These 20 particles are not unique to your body. They are components in all biology: having been assigned 20 names, single-letter and three-letter abbreviations. They are not unique to us – they are components of all biology. We need them. That’s why you eat! Among other biomolecules – lipids, carbohydrates, nucleotides – the Amino Acids are the most orderly. Most admire the intricacy of the pyramids and the enormity of skyscrapers.

Few admire their own majestic temple of life: the Amino Acid scaffolding of your corporeal form.

While everyone adores DNA, few study its actual use or consequence: DNA’s expression into the three-dimensional canvas of life. Few people truly master and memorize the Amino Acids. It is futile to study transcript without translation. In fact – the Amino Acids are the physical bridge to comprehend the code.

We are living in a genetics revolution. While an individual human genome carries more information than Google Maps – it pays off to memorize the Amino Acids: life’s scaffolding.

“But…it is all so complex! How will I ever find the time?” you might ask.

When Should I Memorize the Amino Acids?


Whether you are a child or a seasoned physician, the answer to when you should memorize the Amino Acids is “now“.

Unlike before – where a biochemistry professor demanded you recreated all twenty amino acid structures, single-letter abbreviations, three-letter abbreviations, polarities, characteristics, and charges on scratch paper – you can now leisurely memorize the 20 amino acids in as little as a day.

 Add a few more days to this, and you not only get the structures down – but also have working recall of all single-letter abbreviations, three-letter abbreviations, polarities, charges, and even biological relevance.

This likely sounds too good to be true. 
But, it is.
How is this possible?

We studied how children learn language, and applied the same tactics to Biology’s language.

Even your children can ace the first exam in Biochemistry.
Now is the time to memorize the Amino Acids.

How to choose the best Amino acid mnemonic

If you are reading this, you know the English alphabet.

Was this torture to learn?
But every time you leaf through a dictionary, you likely rely on the same “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” song hack you were taught in elementary school.

Why is this?

Memory is all about efficiency. Humans are lazy. The least effort for the most reward typically gets the most use: why you are likely reading this very article.

In fact, these simple tasks are the most memorable.
This is the key on how to choose the best Amino Acid mnemonic.
No one forgets breathing.
A simplest method actionably getting you results defies time. This is a tenet of trust. Trust defies time.  Trust is the marriage between word and action. A trustworthy mnemonic will not only provide the knowledge of Amino Acids, but understanding, wisdom, and use.
That is why we carefully crafted the best mnemonic for the amino acids.

While we created a step-by-step Journey for people to memorize the Amino Acids, this is best catered for folks taking the MCAT: our main audience. This post, however, is intended for anyone – from child to seasoned healthcare professional – to memorize the Amino Acids.

Formerly, the most popular Amino Acid mnemonic out there is “Private Tim Hall” or “PVT TIM HALL“. This mnemonic is useful, but flawed.

The Amino Acid mnemonic is useful because it isolates the Amino Acids you need to eat to survive – Phenylalanine, Valine, Threonine, Tryptophan, Isoleucine, Methionine, Histidine, Arginine, Leucine, and Lysine. But, it is flawed because the bolded letters aren’t the official single-letter abbreviations used for the Amino Acids. 

Imagine, after long hours in the hospital, a physician relies on good ol’ Private Tim Hall – and tells a patient to eat more Proline (P) instead of Phenylalanine (F).

We’re not going to court martial Private Tim Hall just yet. Instead, we offer an alternative: a mnemonic that simplifies all Amino Acid concepts into a singular diagram describing polarity, charge, function, structure, and even nutritional value.

Time needed to be an amino acid pro

Do you know what 7 x 7 is?
The response – 49 – should be immediate.
If you were testing a child and the response wasn’t instantaneous – you would lovingly question their recall.
Timing is essential.
So, how much time do you need to become an Amino Acid pro?

In the modern technological revolution, people confuse knowledge with Google. Yes, we can Google anything at anytime; but does that mean we know the Amino Acids or, rather, we know how to Google the Amino Acids?

We won’t completely fault Google. Google is a reference. Better said, it is accessing a reference. The issues – however – are that Googling “best Amino Acid mnemonic” leaves the reference discernment up to Google’ bots.

With our method, you can have both a digital and physical reference that has been tested and proven. Instead of Googling “best Amino Acid mnemonic” you need only tap open the Amino Acid Legend, or reach for small, handy physical copy.

So, then, how much time do you need to become an Amino Acid pro?
A day of learning.
A lifetime of referencing.

This may seem like quite a bit of work – but it is in the referencing that the best Amino Acid mnemonic saves you time.

Recall is like archery. Be like Legolas. Wield the Amino Acid mnemonic like an arrow against a target.

Your quiver shouldn’t be over the hill.
It should be over your shoulder.
In your brain.

Effort needed to know amino acid structure

Ever watched a movie?

A flurry of imagery, motion, and audio entertain you in a comfy seat – and at the end you somehow have all the characters’ names, interests, and personalities down. If it is an engaging movie – recently, Avengers Endgame – you understand their backgrounds, powers, motives, personalities, and details that normally would require a flurry of flash cards.

The best Amino Acid mnemonic should learn from movies.


Years later, are you more likely to remember “Neo”, “Aragorn”, “Captain America”, “Luke”, and “Dory”; or “Alanine”, “Tryptophan”, “Leucine”, and “Proline”?

If you can watch a movie, you can learn Amino Acid structure.
But, isn’t Amino Acid structure hard?
Don’t I have to learn Organic Chemistry?

Technically, the answer to both is “yes”. But I could ask that about human anatomy. Isn’t drawing faces hard? Don’t you need to take still life drawing? 

Yet – if I told you to draw a representation of Spiderman or Superman, your only limitation is likely your art skills.

So what is it that allows us to effortlessly remember all these characters?

Firstly, we are wired for interpersonal relations.
Secondly, we notice discrepancies. 
People compare things.
They find differences, and these differences become the personifying trait.

This is precisely what we did in the Amino Acid Legend
Every Amino Acid’s mainstay – a carboxyl and amino group – have become eyes, a mouth, and feet. 

The distinguishing characteristic of Amino Acid structure
is the tail. 


Never forgetting your Amino acids

Owning a reliable, mnemonic for the Amino Acids is as important as knowing the ABC song. It may seem trivial, or like overkill, but every codon in the cosmic expanse of expressed DNA translates into an Amino Acid.

You are purchasing the alphabet of life…for life.

If you claim interest in Biology, you need to memorize the Amino Acids.

The process of never forgetting the Amino Acids is as simple as the above video. If you decide not to opt into the extended mnemonic below, the free video above is still useful.

If you do decide to opt in, this in-depth mnemonic will carry Amino Acid structure, polarity, charge, biological relevance, and countless other memorable idiosyncrasies that will make the Amino Acids as easy to recall as the Avengers.

Behold, the ingredients for life.


Budgeting your amino acid resources

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The Best Amino Acid Mnemonic: Memorize the Amino Acids

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