Many Educational Institutes, even today, do not focus on understanding. Their tests can be easily passed with memorization. This weakens the foundation of the students and adversely affects his future performance in professional engagements. Let’s look at the key differences between understanding and memorization and why understanding should be the priority for all students.

Memorization is simple. We all know that by repeated reading of any subject matter we can remember it by heart and be able to regurgitate (repeat information without analyzing or comprehending it) on demand, even matching similar sounding questions with the answer you have learned. And that is pretty much all you need to get through in most school systems and even most colleges.

Understanding, on the other hand, is knowing the underlying ideas and concepts so well that you can then explain them in your own words, even if you do not remember any of the terminology used. It allows you to develop insights that comes from inductive or deductive reasoning on the concepts.

You know you have understood something well when you can apply it to real life situations and clearly explain it to a layman with ease.

With understanding your can identify the similarities and differences between similar sounding ideas on your own.

Understanding is the key to advancing knowledge and discovering new knowledge.

Understanding is what is useful in real life, learning alone takes us nowhere.

Today computers can store much more facts than you will ever learn and can regurgitate it faster, even for complex queries (like Google). Instead of focusing your energies on memorization, which is anyways a losing and pointless battle, why not focus on understanding the topic at hand?

You will find that when you understand any topic, you tend to remember the key words and phrases too, thereby serving both the purposes of your exams as well as much bigger purpose of excelling real life and profession.