I was just watching a "Big think" interview with Michio Kaku. There was a segment where he showed uncharacteristic indignation over the fact that he had to memorize all the hundreds of particles in the particle zoo in order to get his PhD in Physics: Fast forward to 31:00 http://bigthink.com/videos/big-think-interview-with-michio-kaku That reminded me of a similar experience I had as an undergrad going for my Biology degree. As an elective, I chose to take this class entitled, "Natural history of aquatic invertebrates." One of the requirements to pass this class is that we had to memorize the shell patterns of several hundred species of aquatic invertebrates. Sometimes these patterns differed so subtlety from one species to another that the only difference between two shells was a close to imperceptible variation in the way the lines curved on one segment of the shell. If that wasn't enough, we had to match each one of these patterns to the scientific name of each species. You can imagine how fun that was to memorize as well. I think we were allowed mild misspellings, but if you got the genus wrong, watch out! With this type of operation, you had to study in groups or at least with a partner and use flash cards. I remember us railing (as students often do) about when would we ever need this skill to memorize these shell patterns in future life. But as opposed to my algebra class as a kid, I think I was justified here with the shell patterns.. Anyway, through some small miracle I passed the class. But my question to you, the reader, is did you have a similar experience in college when something you were asked to do went waaaaay above and beyond any reasonably justifiable sense that it was going to help anybody or anything later in life?