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Try explaining it

I consume a lot of information - through books, articles, podcasts, among other sources. It is always at the back of my mind as to whether I'm merely consuming something or inculcating it.

A good way to test whether we have actually understood something is to try and explain it to someone else. Preferably someone who doesn't know about it already. If we are able to convincingly explain to someone what we have just learnt, that's already a step better than merely consuming information. I have often tried this, and upon failing, have gone back and re-read the article or the section of a book and refreshed my understanding.

While consuming something, it is easy to feel that we have fully understood what we are consuming. But only when we put it to a test do we see the real extent of our understanding.

That said, merely being able to explain to someone else what we have consumed is not good enough. While it shows that we have the knowledge, it doesn't tell us whether we can actually put that knowledge to use.

The test for this is to be able to use this knowledge in a new scenario. That is, you can try explaining a totally new thing and use what you have just learnt as an analogy.

I often do this when I relate what's happening currently to movie plots or ideas from books to showcase a similarity and to make a point. And again, the ones I do this with are the ones I remember for the longest period of time.

So, this doesn't just prove that we can put the knowledge to use, but also helps us retain the knowledge for a longer period of time.

Give it a try.

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