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Memorizing Amino Acids


What's up boys? I figured that since pretty much everyone here has some sort idea of nutrients, how the body works, etc this would be a good place to ask. Anyway, I have to memorize the 20 amino acids' structure, three letter abbreviations, and one letter abbreviations. I was wondering if anyone has done this before and if they had any tips on how to memorize them? Thanks!


Draw em, a lot.


No offense, but is this the first time you've ever had to memorize something? You probably already know the answer to your question.

But basically yeah, use flash cards with the structure on one side and the names/abbreviations on the other. Then after a while with those cards move on to drawing their structures, over and over and over and over in a notebook with their abbreviations.


Like the people above me said. It's going to take some form of repetition.


Draw them a lot, and have note cards with the chemical structure on one side and all the important info on the other side (hydrophillic, basic, abbreviations, etc)

Got free time in other classes? Draw them.


You have 2 choices:

  1. Mnemonics. Google it. Learn to memorize by using acronyms, putting first letters in a sentence, using rhymes, music, visual loci, etc, to commit just about anything to memory. As the others have said, it requires repetition, visual cues, and association. These are just basic study skills that you should already have learned. You need to put in some time and effort to study, there is no shortcut to that.

  2. Cheat like hell. This requires devious creativity in order to be covert, because "cheat sheets" are easily detected. You can also use communication from remote location via telecom devices. Use an earphone and have someone read you the answers from outside the classroom. Or you can take your chances and copy from the person next to you, or pay someone to take the test for you. This is not recommended, as this is a last-ditch effort employed by the desperate, lazy and weak-minded individual. Plus, you lots of cash money to compensate the ringer for his/her risk.

Your choice. Both take time and effort. Unless you are planning a career in the CIA, I suggest option 1.


They are easy to remember if you just focus on the construction of them. Obviously you don't have to remember all the structure, just the side chains (I assume you can remember the body part).

From there just work from glycine. Then alanine, add a hydroxyl group and you've got Serine, add a methyl and you got Threonine. Replace the hydroxyl with methyl and you've got valine and so on...

If you focus on how they are constructed it's piss easy to remember.

As for the 3 letter and 1 letter code they are all obvious bar a few. I assume you have been taught twyptophan instead of tryptophan and a pirate's favourite amino acid, aRginine.

The only one I can think of a description for is Trp. It's a school house that has an extra strong outside wall so the kids can't escape with an NH chimmney and a playground outside.

In reality I use them every day so have no problems remembering them. Just draw the side chains and write them down as often as you can.


Flash cards.

Are you in Organic Chemistry/


Make sure you draw the back bone of them all the same way, then its just a matter of drawing the right side chain.

Oh yeah, practice a lot.


No this is not the first time I've had to memorize something. I was just seeing if there were any mnemonics or helpful ways/ tricks of memorizing them. Sorry for the inconvenience.


As exciting as the CIA sounds, I think I'll go with option 1! Thanks.


I already finished Organic, this is for Biochemistry. I never had to memorize these for Organic.



I remembered those days. I took biochem in Maymester. 3 weeks(15 days)...During those 15 days i had 10 quizzes and 5 test. Thank goodness thats over. The flash card idea is really good. They get really easy pretty quick.


Associate each structure with your favorite porno, porn chick, or sexual perversion/fantasy.

Or, with the sports team of your favorite sport (easier to do, since most people can name quite a few times if they really like a popular team sport).