What is Rote Memorization?

This blog answers: What is Rote Memorization? Why is Rote Memorization considered an ineffective learning technique? What are some effective alternatives to Rote Memorization?

What is Rote Memorization?

Rote memorization is a technique whereby one repeats some learning material repeatedly, without processing it deeply or elaborating it, to store it in their memory. Rote memorization is based on repetition; if you repeat something, such as repeatedly writing or reading something, the more you will be able to recall it from memory quickly.

In rote memorization, people tend to repeat a learning material exactly as they have heard or read it and then try to recall it exactly. The goal of rote memorization is to memorize a large quantity of information in a short amount of time in order to be able to recall it shortly afterward. As a learning technique, rote memorization is considered extremely ineffective.

Why is Rote Memorization considered an ineffective learning technique?

Rote memorization only helps us memorize information for shorter durations of time. 

Following are some of the reasons why it is disliked:

Fails to achieve long-term learning:

The reason rote memorization is disliked is that it fails to achieve what learning is actually about. Learning is actually about understanding concepts, recalling them in the long run, and using it effectively.

People are unable to recall what they have learned through rote memorization after very short durations of time, such as after a week or a month. Rote memorization only helps us to retain information in our short-term memories. On the other hand, learning is about making sure information stays in our long-term memories. 

Fails to Achieve a Deeper Understanding of Learning Material:

The primary focus on rote memorization is to be able to store information in short-term memory. People who practice rote memorization are unable to internalize the true essence of knowledge and information and retain it for longer durations of time. They are unable to form a deeper understanding of what they are attempting to learn. The focus is mere memorization and not understanding the information.

Fails to achieve meaningful and deep connections between new and previous knowledge:

Rote memorization is a momentary process. Information learned through rote memorization can’t be successfully recalled after some time. That’s why one can’t connect previous information with new information and form meaningful connections between them.

Therefore, the net output of rote memorization almost approaches zero. Effective learning requires integrating new information with old information, and reviewing, editing, and modifying old information in light of new information. Such integration is not possible when information is learned through rote memorization.

What are some effective alternatives to Rote Memorization?

There are many learning techniques that can help us retain information in our long-term memories and ensure effective learning. Following are some of them:

Spacing effect or spaced repetition:

In spacing effect, information is memorized through study sessions that are systematically spaced. For example, learning some information and then reviewing it by following a certain pattern of closely related intervals.

Once you have learned and memorized something, you recall it after, for instance, one hour, then 3 hours, and then a day. As time passes by the intervals are made systematically longer, for instance, one week and then after two weeks and so on.

By doing so, one is able to retain the information in their long-term memories. Learning done through spaced repetition stays in our memories almost throughout our lives.

Learning Through Experience:

One of the best ways to ensure effective learning is integrating and connecting what we have learned into our experiences. When you learn something and then use that information or knowledge in your daily activities, you make it a part of your personal experience, and that helps you retain that information in your long-term memory. Learning through experience is effective because it enables us to form an association between the information that we are learning and our day-to-day lives or the world around us.

Meaningful learning:  

Studies show that the more meaning we associate with information, the more likely we are to store it in our long-term memories successfully. Making learning meaningful requires integrating and connecting previously learned information with newly learned information.

Associative learning:

In associative learning, we form an association between one stimulus for instance learning a set of names with another stimulus such as a reward from a teacher. A student who is provided positive feedback and rewarded by his or her teacher after he or she has learned.


Rote memorization is a very ineffective way of learning. Although it may be helpful momentarily or for short durations, it fails to achieve long-term learning. Educators should discourage students from rote memorization and encourage and help them use effective learning techniques, such as associative learning, meaningful learning, learning through experience, and spaced repetition.

Frequently asked questions: What is Rote Memorization?

Are there any acceptable uses for Rote Memorization?

There are some occasions where rote memorization may be helpful, such as learning basic math, learning basic vocabulary, basic spelling, memorizing poems, and memorizing phone numbers.

Which countries make the most use of the Rote Memorization technique?

Rote memorization is common in India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Bangladesh, and many other countries.

What are some alternative names used for Rote Memorization?

Rote memorization is also referred to as parrot fashion, regurgitation, mugging, swotting, and cramming.

Is rote memorization good?

Rote memory has been found to be very effective in teaching subjects such as basic math concepts. Many studies indicate that rote memory is one of the most effective ways for younger students to learn addition, subtraction, counting, and multiplication tables it is also considered effective for learning basic vocabulary and spelling.

What’s wrong with rote learning?

Rote memorization does not provide for a deeper understanding of a subject. It does not motivate the use of social skills and the formation of connections between past and present knowledge. In some cases, it might also lead to a false impression of a particular concept.

Which are the best examples of rote memorization?

The best examples of rote memorization are the learning of alphabets and numbers. Or a more complicated example the same would involve multiplication and syllables. In many instances, teachers use cloning without actively acknowledging its use.