Studying - is it understanding or memorisation

What is the best method to study. Is it memorising or understanding. I would like to start using memory palaces but i feel that understanding a concept would be better than memorisation.

Spaced repitition, self testing (which are research backed study techniques) also focus on memorisation more. However to my mind the Feynman technique seems a lot better. I

Students who use Memory palace what is your take on this…


I’d say it is best to combine both methods. First make sure to understand things, then memorize them with a memory palace or another memory technique that suits your mind.

As mnemonics shorten the time you need to learn, you can spend even more time for understanding. For instance think about applications or connections to other things you already know.

Just my two cents :slight_smile:


Actually it depends more on the material you are trying to learn. Sometimes understanding the concept is more beneficial but sometimes memorisation proves to be more efficient.

For concepts I would recommend you to make analogy by stories and pictures and then later you can also memorise it.

Or for deep understanding of concept and building your base you can use the Feynman technique.

Tell me what subjects you are learning using these.


Understanding - In my opinion understanding is most important thing and as a student all topics must be first understood from the basics. Understanding is not enough when it comes to retaining massive amount of information when it is needed readily.

Retention - When we have understood say a list of topics, say list of 20 topics, and we need to apply those concepts as a checklist on our actions or for answering some questions then retention of that list in mind is necessary and art of memory helps us here for retaining information.


With memory techniques you can memorize without understanding, after you memorise what you want you can connect the dots to understand, when you can easily reach the information in your head, the memory is going to be a bonus when you understand how to implement memory techniques to understand complicated topics. That’s my opinion maybe you can find someone using memory techniques have the same opinion as mine.



That is a good question! I have thought about that maybe two years ago. As I recall, my conclusion was that I could understand the topics better after memorizing them. So, I memorized a lot of information in school and in college and after thinking about all of that, I could synthesize and connect the dots better together.

What would I recommend for you? Do what helps you and makes studying easier for you! My method is to memorize it. After that, I can understand a topic. If you can understand a topic without a need to memorize it, then understand it. If this helps you to boost your learning.

It also depends on the material like @Vertexion said in his post.

Hope that helps you a bit

Yours Faithfully


Will try to follow advice
Thanks a lot !!!

Medicine! nice.

Well I know about these 2 tools used by many medical students I know. One is Anki (my personal favorite) and this other one called Picmonic.

You can give these ones a try as they are free and made for memorisation stuff.

For understanding part you can watch or follow lectures on YouTube or other such resources. One such good, paid resource is Osmosis.

One channel you should follow is Med school insiders they give advice and strategies for medical school. I also follow them.

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I think it is both. Facts and concepts.

Facts= memorization
Concepts= understanding

You have to understand the quadratic equation before it is memorized. Once you understand it, then it is appropriate to memorize it.


As a worked example, I like to memorise the glossary first and get it out of the way. I then read and try to understand.


Can be many different things, depending on the subject and the objective of studying.
It can be exploring, analyzing, collecting information, making a synthesis, encoding, practicing, understandind, deepening, reviewing, etc, etc.

i also follow(maybe not follow) med school insiders, and am not a doctor
i like his anki tutorials and book summaries

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By the way, there are TONS of mnemonic apps on Google Play for medical students. It’s just insane. I think if you start off with those apps for language and then go onto Anki for Med Students if need be… you can’t go wrong! It looks like Medical School is by far the best served discipline for memory devices.

Blimey. It’s so good I look at all this and start to wonder “Where is the cheapest place to get an MD?” lol

Well I’d like to add something about the understanding part:
The more prior knowledge you have around a topic, the easier it is for you to understand a new concept.

This might be an interesting read:

According to Bloom’s Taxanomy, memorizing is the first step to or a necessary precondition for Knowledge, Comprehension, Application, Analysis, Synthesis, and Evaluation!! If you don’t ‘remember’,you don’t understand!!


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Not sure you should really infer that only because he uses a pyramid… anyway, Bloom’s taxonomy was revised some 20 years ago.


The best solution is to combine understanding and memorisation

You cannot understand something without memorizing it. Understanding something is a form of memorization, but it is also a practical outcome of the later one, so both complete each other. I recently have read that Ramon Campayo uses illogical associations in order to memorize things, and that is an example of how comprehending a subject is useful to memorize the same one. If I had superior abilities to make illogical associations, I personally think I would not have the necessity of relying on boring spatial mnemonic associations as much as I do. That is how powerful understanding can be. Actually in some sense I could say understanding IS memorization.

I think it s hard memorize without understand something it s possible, but more dificult and i think its staying less time in memory, but it s only my opion.

Studying is understanding + Memorising