Studying for Exams vs Studying for Mastery

Trent Rhodes Character Education, Learning & Mindset Leave a Comment

When was the last time you heard someone say they were studying? Even in middle school lingo this word appears to be near non-existent. But in order to pass your exams, especially in college, there’s still some remnant of this long-lost pastime that’s necessary. Usually, we call it the cram.

If you’re a self-directed learner, it’s important to realize the difference between studying for exams and for mastery in your craft:

Exams are designed to test your knowledge of specific information within a time frame. Exams are transactions. You usually take it once and it requires some rote memory. Cramming is a simple technique to remember the information for the moment. Then you can forget it and move on to the next subject. This is partly why you can appear incredibly smart when passing your exams, when the reality is you may have a strong memory or consumed a pill to enhance your recall and focus for that time.

If you’re studying to master, you’ll need to do a lot more than cram. Learning takes place throughout the course and doesn’t stop when you leave the classroom. You embrace total subject integration. This means…

– Mastery requires time to synthesize info. Read books, newspapers, Internet articles, video, podcast, go to events in your field, connect with like-minds and give yourself time to think deeply about your subject.

– Mastery requires repetition but unlike rote memory, your repeated practice reaches a deep level that becomes instinct. You simply exude your subject; it precedes you. It becomes you.

-Studying for mastery is a holistic experience. There may be some order to your learning but often the knowledge is scattered. If you’re self-directed, you’ll eventually create your own system within this beneficial chaos. Studying for exams have an A-B-C, 1-2-3 system as is seen in the grade system and your class syllabi.

Knowing the difference between these two kinds of study will help keep you focused on your goal, which is constant growth.

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