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How to Remember SOHCAHTOA

Image of T-Shirt Showing SOH-CAH-TOA on the Front in Rainbow ColoursThere are many ways to remember the expression SOHCAHTOA.  Just writing it out and using it a lot creates the familiarity that you need, but there are other things that you can do, too.

1 ~ Make a poster of it and place it over the bathroom mirror for a few days.

2 ~ Repeat it, mantra like, for 10-20 second bursts while you do something rhythmic like walking, running, swimming, or riding a bike.

3 ~ Learn an acronym.  The Greek word “akros” means “tip,” so acronyms are words or expressions usually made from the first letters (tips) of other words.  For example, many people remember the colours of the rainbow … Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet … by learning the “man’s name,” ROY G BIV.

Although Sin(x) = Opp/Hyp, Cos(x) = Adj/Hyp, and Tan(x) = Opp/Adj has the acronym SOHCAHTOA, this need not stop us from creating other acronyms for the same expression:

  • Some Of Her Children Are Having Trouble Over Algebra
  • Some Out-Houses Can Actually Have Totally Odorless Aromas
  • She Offered Her Cat A Heaping Teaspoon Of Applejuice
  • Soaring Over Haiti, Courageous Amelia Hit The Ocean And …
  • Some Old Horse Caught Another Horse Taking Oats Away
  • Silly old Henry caught Albert Hugging two old Aunts
  • Some Old Hag Cracked All Her Teeth On Asparagus
  • Some Old Hairy Camels Are Hairier Than Others Are
  • Some Old Hippy Caught Another Hippy Tripping on Acid
  • Some Old Hags Can’t Always Hide Their Old Age
  • Some Old Horses Can Always Hear Their Owner Approach
  • Silly Old Harry Caught A Herring Trolling Off Africa
  • Some Old Hippie Came a Hopping through Our Apartment
  • Sense Of Humour Can Always Help To Overcome Awkwardness
  • Silly Old Harry Caught A Huge Trout Out Angling
  • Some Old Houses Creak And Heave Through Old Age
  • Summer On Holiday, Christmas At Home, Teachers Off Anyway
  • Sucking On Hard Candy Always Has Totally Overwhelming Awesomeness
  • Somebody Obviously Hates Creativity And Has Tiny Opera Actors

You can search the Internet for more (there is quite a variety and something to suit all tastes), but why not make up one of your own?  The more outrageous and funny it is, the easier it will be to remember.

4 ~ Of course, you could always chant SOH-CAH-TOA to music!  You might try one of these songs that I found on YouTube (or make up one of your own):

The first is a rather addictive song by Jonathan Mann, the second is Gettin’ Triggy Wit It based on Will Smith’s Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It, the third uses Bruno Mars’ Nothing On You, and the fourth video will remind you of Lady GaGa’s Poker Face.  They may give you some good ideas.

Having said all that, you CAN invest too much time in all the ‘learning tricks’ … while the best learning is to simply write and use it as often as possible.  In other words, if you solve quite a few simple trigonometric problems you will not only remember SOHCAHTOA, but will also remember what it means and how to use it (and why).

Graeme Henderson tutored me throughout my entire high school mathematics education, and through his expert tutelage and exceptional ability to explain the concepts that would otherwise be very hard to understand, I was able to grasp and excel at topics that I would have otherwise been unable to. He was an excellent tutor, and I would not hesitate to recommend him to anyone looking for help with mathematics problems!
Matthew T (student, c2005-2013)

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