I am currently a Software Engineering apprentice, doing a related degree as the academic side.

I have noticed that despite how passionate I am about software, things never 'click' with me when I first read about them or when someone explains them to me. This can be both academic and practical.

It sometimes takes me so long to get a grasp of a simple theory concept because I overthink and get muddled in my head, I am not that good at math and situations requiring intense thinking (as an example of basic situations that perplex me). And I've noticed my practical knowledge at work isn't up to standard, I'm not as 'good' as I should be for this for how far into my job I am (almost a year).

It's becoming increasingly embarrassing having to watch 4 different videos on basic topics so I can understand, or worse getting someone at work to keep varying their explanation so I understand. I find myself mapping technical concepts out on paper a lot which works but it shouldn't be required of me for basic things and I can't go about my life having to set aside pen and paper every time someone explains something to me.

I believe with effort I can achieve anything and am not phased by people who say you are 'born an engineer'. Instead I guess I should to better my skill of learning.

I am seeking an answer as to how one can get better at learning, techniques, methodologies, books etc.

  • 2
    If there were some magic bullet that worked for everyone, or even a large class of people, we wouldn't need to have schools. Even in schools, there are many students who are genuinely trying very hard whom we don't manage to teach. Mar 5, 2018 at 18:22
  • 1
    Also, you might want to visit a psychologist to see if you have a learning disability. For certain types of learning disabilities, there are specific strategies that help. Mar 5, 2018 at 18:23
  • In my experience, you can be lucky or not regarding "how high your learning stat is". For me it is easy, but I have friends who are really trying hard and still face difficult times. A few failed. Most succeeded. And I respect them so much for their fights, because this takes so much disciple from them I couldn't imagine having myself. So I guess, since you are motivated, you will fight on and grow. Discipline is important. There are books with tips I guess. But I can't offer you real advice, so comment instead of answer.
    – SK19
    Mar 7, 2018 at 0:02

3 Answers 3


'Passion' is useless unless it motivates you to acquire knowledge; ideally, it should drive you to do things above and beyond what is required of you.

Knowledge is cumulative. Technical communication takes place in increasingly complex abstractions. Unless you have the library of primitive abstractions to draw upon, grasping the more complex abstractions is difficult. The only way to gain those simple abstractions is to spend a lot of time thinking about them.

Drawing things is actually an excellent practice; It has helped me learn for years.


I feel the same way as you, and I am currently a Postdoc... your doubts about yourself can actually be a very strong point if you convert them into a motivation to keep studying. It is perfectly normal to need something repeated several times until you get it, and using pen and paper is actually a pretty good way to proceed. Just go on like you are, do not surrender and with time you will amass a sweet amount of knowledge. And more importantly: do not compare yourself to others, many people (especially in engineering) tend to hide their shortcomings and act smug as if they are infallible. Your baseline should only be your objectives: are you doing your job correctly? Are you having good results in your exams?


From Neurosciences researched, the first important thing to know is that repetition is important. Not necessarily the stupid repetition of just dumping knowledge; but the repetition of the topics you want to understand under slightly changing conditions, so you need to recapitualte, apply and think.

I know this is not a general recipe; however, from my own university courses in adult education I visited I know this is a good strategy.

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