I just picked this up off my Twitter feed. It was written by a brilliant young engineer:
I was a bad student in school. I’ve realized the reason; at the time, I didn’t know WHY I was learning. I didn’t have a higher goal. As such, I learned in order to pass tests and classes. Consequently, nothing really stuck.
I realize that a short-term gain can be an easy trap when it comes to learning. Without a higher goal, I chased deadlines; I learned much, yet understood little. and retained almost nothing.
Today, I find myself falling into a similar trap; learning, just to succeed at some examination. But today, it’s different - I’m aware of the snare and I can avoid it. Why learn material to meet an artificial deadline? Why skew the tests?
Learning any material should be a long-term goal - a lifetime goal. Passing a test does not import mastery of the material. The opposite, however, holds true.
Learn at your own pace. Gain complete understanding when you can; dig deeper and find the "why"of things. Quality trumps quantity.