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Are there inclusive terms to describe academic subjects that requires reading and memorizing such as literature and those requiring math and problem solving such as math and physics_ maybe something like reading subjects and problem-solving ones?

A: Hey Alan, how do you manage to prepare for the exam season like that and you still have some time to spare with your friends?!

B: Well, I leave the [memorizing] subjects to what I can keep in mind over the exam night and get practice on the [problem-solving] ones during the term.

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    problem-solving, not "problems-solving".
    – TimR
    May 13, 2018 at 11:14

2 Answers 2

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One related word that comes to my mind is rote.

When something is learned through memorization, we say that it is learned by rote. From NOAD:

rote (noun) mechanical or habitual repetition of something to be learned: a poem learned by rote in childhood.

In education, another related term is Bloom’s Taxonomy, which is a six-layered hierarchy of ways learning can be evaluated and demonstrated. Regarding your question, an educator might say that some courses are at the Remembering level of Bloom’s (or Knowledge level), while others are at the Applied level. (That said, a room full of English professors might bristle at your characterization, insisting that their goal is to teach at even higher levels of Bloom’s, such as Analyzing and Evaluating!)

For further reading about Bloom’s, you can view this page from Vanderbilt University’s Center for Teaching.

So, going back to the dialog in your question, it could go like this:

A: Hey Alan, how do you manage to prepare for the exam season like that and you still have some time to spare with your friends?!

B: Well, I leave the more rote subjects to what I can keep in mind over the exam night and get practice on the more applied ones during the term.

That said, Bloom’s is more widely known in professional education circles than among the general public, so I’m not sure students would realistically use the term “applied” in that way. The word “rote,” however, is more generally known.

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  • Taking that applied is not much of a common word, you might be suggesting I say something like less rote instead of applied. Is that so?
    – Yuri
    May 13, 2018 at 17:50
  • @ Yuri - I would use applied before I would use less rote.
    – J.R.
    May 13, 2018 at 19:51
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You want to know if we have a label for academic subjects where only short-term memory is required to succeed and a label for subjects where problem-solving skills are required.

American college students call particular courses (not subjects or areas of study) gut courses if students can get by only by reading and regurgitating what they've read.

I don't know of a term for classes that require mastery of the subject matter.

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  • The complement to a “gut” course might be a “real” course?
    – J.R.
    May 13, 2018 at 17:30
  • Yes, I'm looking for the possible and also common labels which students use to call these. My first guess was easy and difficult though it might not be the case for everyone. History might be a piece of cake for one while a real pain in the neck for another. I really wonder how English speakers would refer to these concepts. If you were Alan, how would you say that?
    – Yuri
    May 13, 2018 at 17:57
  • As I said, I would only refer to a particular course in that way, not to any subject.
    – TimR
    May 14, 2018 at 11:24

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