As soon as they began, they are over: two exams, and I’ve been on holidays now for quite a while. Trying to distill the course knowledge of a semester into three short essays in two hours (old testament), or four short essays in two hours (new testament) is no mean feat, but an exam paper does – like the gallows – wonderfully concentrate the mind.

One of our lecturers kept saying “exams aren’t important”, which at first I thought was a strange thing for a lecturer to say. As it turns out, he was right.

Anyone familiar with tertiary study would know that what you have to write about in exams doesn’t necessarily have any bearing on the real world. Worse, the kind of study that is done for exams is often targeted more at the short-term than the long-term memory. Something that you may have encyclopaedic knowledge on in the morning can quickly become a topic of only shallow knowledge by evening.

Preparation for exams is inevitable – it’s necessary to sit the exam, because that’s how the college measures that people have learned things from the course. To benefit more from a college education, though, more time has to be spent thinking through the course material, and trying to incorporate it into long-term memory.

Does anyone have any advice on how to turn short-term study into long-term learning?

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