Rote memorization is an inefficient way to learn. Just retaining a single formula can mean pounding the same information into your skull dozens of times. If your computer hard drive had this accuracy, you’d probably throw it out.
Unfortunately, you’re stuck with your brain. The good news is that you don’t need to learn by memorization. The vast majority of information is better stored in your head using a completely different system – learning through connecting ideas together.
A few years ago, I noticed that smart people seemed to learn differently than most other people. While most people would review the same information dozens of times, smart people only needed to review once or twice. While most people would apply ideas to problems in the ways that they had been taught, smart people used the ideas in many different contexts.
While there are undoubtedly some genetic advantages that allow some people to learn effortlessly, I think part of this difference in success comes down to strategy. While most people were trying to memorize, smart people were coming up with creative connections between ideas. These connections made the ideas easier to remember, so less memorizing was required. Additionally, the new connections made the ideas easier to understand, so learning itself was faster.