Are you an A or B student that wants more time to enjoy life while scoring top-of-the class high – even if you’re a bad test taker?
There is only one scenario in life where I’d suggest memorizing information is more important than understanding information.
That one scenario just happens to be school.
Understanding allows you to do dramatically more with dramatically less. Understanding allows you to infer information. It allows you to think creatively about a subject.
When you’re able to understand a subject you’re much better off in your day to day life than if you just memorized it. You have some options in how you use that information. (I’m tempted to say their is less domain dependence to your understanding.)
Memorizing information has relatively small use for life outside of school.
There are only so many things that you really need to remember in life. They’re very limited in scope. Outside of school, there is virtually nothing that you need to remember when you have access to a resource you can look the information up in. Sure, you may memorize information you use on a day to day basis but their is essentially no point to memorizing most of the stuff you go over.
Memorization can assist in developing understanding. That amount of memorization usually comes naturally though.
In school, memorization tends to be essential. The vast majority of tests you end up taking will not be open book. You can’t go looking up information in other resources to try and solve your test problems. You need to know the information without looking it up.
Learning to test well almost always requires a significant chunk of memorization.
Understanding (even a basic one) is still where you’ll get most of your points. Most of this understanding doesn’t require too much work on your part. The simple act of memorizing the information will usually give you the bulk of the required understanding. (It’s hard to memorize something without accidentally picking up some understanding of what’s happening.)
That being said, you can’t get top notch grades with understanding alone. Understanding can get you most of the way but it can’t get you all of the way. At a certain point, when it comes to school, you have to be willing to just brute force memorize information.
The reality is that brute force memorization isn’t as hard as most students seem to think.
When it comes to class time, it’s usually best to emphasize trying to understand what the teacher is saying. If you can understand what the teacher is saying then you have the basic knowledge required to pass most tests on the information taught. If all you’re looking to do is pass then you’ve probably learned enough at that point.
(If you failed to understand the teacher then it’s a complicated game of trying to figure out why. Did you have a bad teacher? Did you focus? Are you prepared to learn what they’re teaching? That’s a subject too deep for this article.)
If you’re looking to boost your grade even higher then you need to emphasize memorization.
Understanding may be easy with the basics of any subject but the deeper you attempt to understand a subject, the harder it becomes to understand the information. You can waste hours trying to understand harder concepts. At a certain point, it’s more efficient to just focus your energy on memorizing it.
To learn a little more on the subject you might want to get into this article: You Can’t Test Understanding.
Also, for some specific guidance on how to know when you really understand something you should read this subscribers only article: How To Know When You Really Understand It
So… understanding plays a role but when you’re studying, it’s usually better to focus on memorizing. The first big chunk may come cheap from understanding but the next chunk comes easiest through memorization.
Do you want to know how to study in less than 15 minutes a night? That’s what this blog is all about. Be sure to check out the archives and follow along. Also, be sure to read the books in the sidebar to learn more.
This is getting bad – we gotta’ stick together in this
The academic world is getting shaken up ripped into shreds.
What we’ve known is gone – and probably for good too. Things are changing faster than anyone could have ever imagined but…
You’re not alone!
I know a few things about you – at least statistically – I may not know your name yet but I do know you’re like me.
You’re motivated. (Lazy students don’t read this stuff. I’ve got years of testing proving this.)
Forgive me for my crudeness here but – most of the world ain’t like us.
I struggled for years academically. Sure… I had a good year now and then but it was wooork in the most unpleasant sense of the term.
It wasn’t until a friend of mine taught me his tricks that I realized –
- Working smart is better than working hard.
- What most people call “work” academically is a loony waste of time.
And that was the first step to me dominating my college class graduating near the top of my class while studying less than a lot of the partiers flopping around near the bottom.
I don’t say that to impress you – I say that impress upon you – if I could do it. You can too. It wasn’t because I was special. I just found the unspoken academic truth. That’s given me a huge head start in life – and NONE of this would have happened if it weren’t for that friend – years ago – given me that little bit of advice.
I want to be that friend for you – even if we never get the opportunity to meet.
I wrote How to Study Happier to teach you exactly what I wish I knew years ago – the same strategies thousands of students from all around the world have used to turn their grades into something they’re proud of. This is stuff that (awesome) college professors have been recommending for their students.
It’s not perfect. And it’s not magic. It requires you –
And you’re ready to take your academic game up to the next level, right?
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