How to Learn Without Memorizing

When students talk about how to learn without memorizing, their most common fear is that a quick memorization study method will mean they forget the material within a short amount of time. This is because rote memorization as a quick study tool generally leads to the information only being stored in short-term memory. Memorizing material isn’t all bad, but memorizing quickly and then forgetting the information does cause problems, particularly for something as demanding as Roseman’s Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing (ABSN) program.

How to Learn Without Memorizing

But how do you go about learning material long-term versus quickly memorizing just to pass an upcoming test? While there are additional methods for how to learn without memorizing, these are six suggested strategies you can try right away:

  • Choose an accelerated nursing program that goes in-depth on each nursing topic
  • Hand write your notes about key topics
  • Connect new concepts to ideas you already understand
  • Tell a story
  • Teach someone else
  • Ask questions as you learn

Read on for more explanation on these tips for how to learn without simply memorizing.

1. Choose a nursing program that goes in-depth on each nursing topic.

Roseman University’s ABSN block class format means that you study each topic in-depth before moving on to the next class. The block curriculum format allows students to master nursing concepts one at a time. You then apply the theoretical knowledge you’ve gained in class to the “real world” with onsite clinical experiences in healthcare facilities throughout Southern Nevada. Since you will see the material during your online classes, hear learning modules and lab and clinical instructors reinforce the concepts, and actually practice these concepts yourself during clinicals, Roseman’s ABSN program covers the major learning styles, whether your dominant type of learning is visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

2. Hand write your notes about key topics.

In the digital age, you may be used to typing everything into your computer or tablet, rather than writing information down by hand. While the efficiency of typing means that we would not suggest giving up typed notes entirely, there is some scientific evidence that handwriting engages a different area of your brain than typing, and that the longer time spent on the task of handwriting versus typing may improve your focus on the material as well. The next time you are struggling with a new concept in your studies, you may benefit by the way handwriting can help you learn.

3. Connect new concepts to ideas you already understand.

Rote memorization by repetition may get you through the next test, but it is unlikely that material will stay with you long term. Without getting into the science behind how our brains work, it is worth mentioning that the human brain is a network of trillions of connected neurons. It is not a computer hard drive where you can store specific information for exact search recall, but rather a network of connected concepts and ideas. So when you cover new information, it is extremely helpful to connect it to other concepts you already understand.

4. Tell a story.

Storytelling is a fully human phenomenon. Before the written word, concepts, guidelines and principals were passed down from generation to generation via stories. Young children memorize their favorite stories via Disney movies, storybooks read aloud to them and other media long before they can read. The next time you are struggling to remember new information, try creating a story with it or placing it into a story you already know. You are likely to both remember it more quickly and to be able to recall it longer than by using simple repetition of the material.

5. Teach someone else.

An ability to teach information to someone else in simple terms proves an understanding of the material. In many classrooms, teachers have observed that students who help other students become much better at the subject matter themselves. You may want to pick a study partner and just take turns trying to explain the study topics to each other. You could even tutor on a volunteer or paid basis. While you may question your expertise on a subject while you are still a student, tutoring early nursing classes later in your program could help your mastery in your current classes as well.

6. Ask questions as you learn.

Instead of trying to speed through information, stop to ask yourself “wh” and “how” questions as you go. For example, “Why is this concept relevant to nursing?”, “How will I use this information once I become a nurse?”, “How does this relate to other nursing concepts I’ve already learned?”, “Why am I being asked to learn this in the first place?” and “What did I just read or cover in my studies (in my own words)?” are just some questions you might consider asking as you study. Being able to answer in-depth questions like these will help assure that you really understand the material you are studying, rather than just memorizing facts.

Some of these tips for how to learn without memorizing may not work for you as well as others. You may even want to search for additional tips or ask your fellow nursing students what works best for them. The important thing is to try various learning methods and find the ones that work best for you. With all of these new tips and tools at your fingertips, we are confident that you will soon find you are recalling topics and concepts much better than with rote memorization and repetition.

If you aren’t already enrolled in an accelerated nursing program, why not contact us today to hear more about Roseman’s 16 month accelerated nursing program in Utah?

Get Started Today

I am interested in the VBSN Program.

By requesting information, I consent to be contacted by Roseman University through my email, phone, and text using automated technology regarding enrollment.