The difference between learning new material and studying for an exam is something that isn’t always clear to some people, and it’s important that every person is able to discern the difference between them.
Learning new material and studying for an exam are two ways in which people acquire knowledge. They have different meanings, but for many people they are one in the same. Learning is one of the most fundamental aspects of life; it is something that we have been doing every single day since we were born. From learning something as simple as how to walk to something as difficult as driving a car and the rules of the road, learning is a natural process that can happen at any given moment.
While it could be argued that studying for an exam is the same thing as learning because they share so many of the same qualities, in my opinion, they are different.
To me, studying for an exam can’t just be another term for learning, because how to study for an exam is something that has to be learned. Studying in preparation for an exam depends on a lot of outside factors, such as paying attention in class, taking good notes and setting aside time in the day specifically for studying. It’s not a natural process like learning is.
I’m not knocking studying for exams as being a negative thing. There are many times when I have done it because it can be very effective for certain classes, regardless of what level of education it is used in.
It’s important to define the difference between studying for an exam and learning because a lot of people who are my age have spent their lives being taught for a test and only studying material they are going to be graded on. This has led to some of them viewing learning and studying for an exam as being the same thing, and this is wrong partly because of the negative connotation that many of them equate with studying for an exam.
Typically, when someone studies for an exam, they learn the information for a set period of time in order to perform adequately. This is often the case, regardless of whether the person gives themselves a lengthy period of time to go over the material or cram it into their brain the night before. Sometimes, this method of learning leads to gaining information and knowledge that only lasts for as long as a person deems it useful, and that length of time is often only until after they have taken and completed the exam.
I still regret the approach that I took to studying for my exams in math 101 and 102, because my mindset was not where it needed to be. My brain was in full-on exam mode, where all it wanted to do was memorize the formulas so that when I was presented with a question come exam day, I’d be able to answer it with efficiency. However, while I did memorize all those formulas, I never learned them. I never fully understood what I was doing, or why things worked the way they did. I only scratched the surface, and as a result, I hardly remember anything that I learned in either of those classes, and this is nobody else’s fault but my own. Had I delved deeper into the material, I would have come away with a greater reward, and what I learned would have been ingrained in me.
This is why it’s important to learn, because things that we learn tend to stay with us for far longer than things that we study for the sole purpose of getting a letter grade. However, this is not to say that it is impossible for a person to retain information for a long period of time just because they gained it through the process of studying for an exam. I do think that a person is less likely to retain information if it is gained through that process, but there are things we learn while studying for exams that remain with us for our entire lives. If that weren’t the case then the whole point of exams would become null. I simply think that it’s important to recognize the difference between the two processes of acquiring information, both methods are important to having success in life.