It might have to do with the metaprograms that you run or it might not.
I encounter the same issues. For example I run heavy 'other' and 'external' programs in which I have trouble thinking clearly if there is too much activity or people around me. We only have so much focus to go around to sample our surrounding with at any given moment. The problem with these particular patterns combined is that all the focus gets burned up on the outside and you don't have enough left to bring in the knowledge and process it internally. There is not enough of 'you' in the encounter.
On the other hand, if I am alone with a book then I am cranking and understanding it to the max (which means great grades but not all learning involves books).
Currently, I am working on developing flexibility in these patterns. Then when the inevitable hot seat comes I will be able to turn to 'self' and 'internal' patterns. I will let you know how it goes.
[This message has been edited by weight39doug (edited February 10, 2005).]