Rote Learning and Test Preparation

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Rote Learning, or in simpler words cramming, is the addition of memory which is done through the process of reiteration and repeated attempts. Remember the last time when you memorised your mobile number which has no logic to it but you are required to remember it. This exactly exemplifies rote learning and its significance. Wherein the rules are universal, there is no significance, the only way to imbibe that is to condition your brain to cram it by repeatedly practice.

Cramming is an inseparable aspect of learning and education. To better understand, ‘Sun rises in the east and sets in the west’ is a key fact for a child to memorise. There is no route but rote learning. Cramming has otherwise been considered to be the worst practices that has plagued our education system. A lot of students manage to get good grades by merely memorizing the facts but these tactics fail when appearing for competitive exams. Perhaps, this best explains how many average students make through into IITs and many high scorers at school do not.

In our country where examination has become an norm, the intent of the examiners is to discourage cramming. However, the lack of quality in our education system in the school level pedagogy somehow encourages rote learning. The enormous population and the emergence of IT has increased the competition in education. This scenario directly or indirectly promotes the culture of rote learning as test-takers need to score ‘by hook or by crook’.

In view of the high competition, the test-preparation industry in India has a size no less than core education. In fact, our flawed education system, as has been labelled by many eminent educationists, can be attributed to the paucity of resources and stringent competition.

Experiential learning is an alternative that has been proposed by many educationists. To demonstrate the difference, consider a situation wherein you need to memorise the names of every student in the new class. The best you can do is imprint the faces and associate them with the new names you have memorised. In comparison, if you are given few more days to interact with the staff and understand their work, it is more comfortable and memorising the names does not take any conscious effort.

Exams like JEE are intended to test your concepts and application of concepts. Therefore, rote learning is not a solution. However, it may be of help in certain concepts.

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