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Study smarter; Memorizing vs Understanding



There is generally a misconception about memorizing and understanding. We usually believe that memorizing and understanding work together in order to produce higher quality outcomes but there is a huge difference between them if we go deep on it. Memorizing is temporary and limited to basic words and facts. On the other hand, understanding is long term and lets you describe something in your own words and even teach it to others to help them understand the subject. Memorizing is more associated with ‘surface’ and understanding with ‘deep’ approaches of learning. The main purpose of study is to explore and describe the experience. When a student uses a surface-level strategy, they do not seek an understanding approach and instead rely on memorization.

The difference between Memorizing and Understanding. 

  •  Memorizing is for only a term while understanding is for the long term. 
  • Memorizing can be only stored for working memory while understanding is for learning and experience in a long-term memory.
  • Memorizing is not connected with real learning and understanding is the foundation of real learning. 
  • Memorizing is only available for quick recall where understanding is available for real world application.
  • And the most important difference between memorizing and understanding is that memorizing does not lead to insights, creativity or a new way of thinking about the information. Whereas, understanding leads to making connections, having insights, and synthesizing the information.  

The Usefulness of Memorization, 

Understanding the subject should always come before memorization during the learning process. Sadly, not many students approach studying in that way. There are situations where using basic memorization is appropriate. Memorization is useful when we know we won’t need to know the information again and when we need to recall it within the following hour. It is ideal to apply memorization techniques like mnemonics, visualization, and association once we have thoroughly comprehend something. The five senses are used in memory tricks including visual and spatial approaches. To make information stick, you can use pictures, music, feelings, and our bodies. The visual and spatial memory systems of humans are exceptional. Instead of tedious, rote memorization, you utilize interesting, memorable, and creative methods when using visual and spatial memory techniques. The things you want to remember are now simpler to see, feel, or hear. You can also free up your working memory by using spatial and visual strategies. When your mind would rather wander, using visual and spatial approaches might help you focus and pay attention. They assist you in making your study enjoyable, memorable, and meaningful.


When not to use Memorization.

Most of the time, we should concentrate on genuinely understanding the material rather than attempting to memorize it. In the following situations, memorization is never a good idea;

  • When you want to make learning stressful. 
  • When you want to gain knowledge for the long term.
  • When you have to use the knowledge in real-world situations or on an exam.
  • When learning it rather than merely passing a test is the goal. 

Conclusion, the study

While memorization is a necessity for learning, over memorization does much harm and tiny good. It makes learning take longer and more stressful, makes learning superficial, doesn’t help comprehension, causes you to forget faster, and doesn’t encourage utilization.

Instead of over memorizing, embrace more meaningful learning by linking to previous knowledge, visualizing, and repeatedly using what you learn to study. While you’ll do that on your own, taking a specialized course will serve you better.