An Easy Way to Learn the Cranial Nerves


For a nursing student, there are oftentimes vast amount of information you must retain to pass an exam. When studying, trying various methods to help you remember concepts and terms is a suitable way to prepare for a test. One simple way to learn the cranial nerves and their functions is to assign them a mnemonic to help you remember which terms are placed where. A mnemonic is a series of rhymes or letter associations that work like an acronym, helping you recall information.

Mnemonic for the Cranial Nerves

  • Write out the list of cranial nerves:

    Olfactory nerve
    Optic nerve
    Oculomotor nerve
    Trochlear nerve
    Trigeminal nerve
    Abducens nerve
    Facial nerve
    Vestibulocochlear nerve
    Glossopharyngeal nerve
    Vagus nerve
    Accessory nerve
    Hypoglossal nerve

  • Assign an easy rhyme or saying that uses the first letter of each cranial nerve to create your sentence. For example, one mnemonic for learning the cranial nerves can be: On Occasion Oscar Tells Timmy About Funny Vegetables Grandma Verna Always Had.

  • Practice remembering which acronym was associated with cranial nerves. Once you remember the order, you will be able to devote time to remembering exact terms.

Mnemonic for Function

  • Differentiate the cranial nerves by remembering whether they are sensory, motor or both. You may use a mnemonic to help you remember this portion of your exam as well.

  • Assign the sensory nerves with an “S,” motor nerves with an “M” and nerves that do both with a “B.”

  • Create your mnemonic to help you remember which nerves are sensory, motor or both. One example may be: Sally Says Mark Mumbles, But Mark Begs Sally “Bug Me More!”

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