Not everyone learns the same way. People have different learning styles—based primarily on the way their minds process and absorb information. In a previous post we covered various learning styles. In this article, we’ll cover study strategies you can try to make your study time more effective, based on your learning style.
Study Tips for Visual Learners
Visual learners need to see or read information in order to learn it. Learning by just listening is difficult. Visual learners use mental imagery to remember things. If you are a visual learner, give these study tips a try.
When you sit down to study, write a note with your goal. Put it where you can see it. for example: “From 7:00 to 8:00 I will read Chapter 12”.
Preview a chapter first by looking through the pictures, graphics and topic headings.
Study where it is quiet. Noise can distract visual learners.
Use highlighters to color code your notes, flashcards, even your textbook. Write in the margins, doodle pictures, and design graphs that relate to the topic.
Watch online videos on topics you are studying.
Sit near the front of class and watch your professor while you take notes.
Study Tips for Auditory/Verbal Learners
Auditory/Verbal learners remember what they hear and can follow spoken directions easily. They often participate in class discussions and can solve complex problems by talking them through. Try these tips if you are an auditory/verbal learner.
Record your class lectures. Listen carefully during class, not on extensive note taking. Your recording will help you fill in the details later.
Study with someone. You can quiz and summarize topics for each other. Speaking and hearing will help you learn.
Participate in class discussions, both listening and speaking.
Read your textbook out loud. Try this when you write papers, too.
Make your own audio ‘flashcards’. Record yourself reading key terms or vocabulary with their definitions. Listen to the recording when walking to class or other activities.
Use mnemonic devices, acronyms or rhymes to remember concepts. All are verbal-based techniques that will help.
Study Tips for Kinesthetic/Physical Learners
Kinesthetic/Physical learners have lots of energy and process information best when they are physically engaged as they learn. Lecture-based schooling is difficult for these learners because there is no outlet for engaging the body during class. Here are some tips for kinesthetic learners.
During lectures try taking notes with pen and paper. Keep a stress ball in your free hand and squeeze it occasionally. Use tension/relaxation—make a fist or tighten another muscle and count five to ten seconds, then release. This eases pent up energy that needs a physical outlet.
Take the long way to class. The longer walk will engage you physically before you have to sit and listen for an hour.
When you study, stand up for part of your time. Try using a bookstand so you can get your body engaged in the learning.
Exercise while you study. If you just read up on a topic, get up and move while you summarize out loud what you just learned. Create some flashcards and review them while taking a walk or run.
Use small movements too. Bouncing a ball, twisting a rubber band, passing an object from hand to hand can all help during study sessions.
Build something. You are more likely to remember something you create than read. Take your notes and act out a story that explains them. Design a video or draw pictures. Manipulate figurines.
Study Tips for Logical Learners
Logical (sometimes called mathematical) learners use their skills of logic to take in and process information. They excel at seeing connections, patterns and relationships between concepts. They are investigative by nature and enjoy learning what’s behind things. Here are some ways to study if you are a logical learner.
Break large amounts of material into to smaller segments and find the things that link them together.
Look for the patterns and relationships between bits of information to maximize your understanding.
Relate patterns in the material to patterns you see in real life. If you have a personal experience that mirrors that pattern it will help you make sense of it.
Use your lecture notes and rewrite them to line up topics sequentially—especially helpful to you if your professor jumps from topic to topic.
Create graphs, charts or outlines of material. Organize them based on the relationships/sequences you have discovered.
Tips for Solitary Learners
Solitary learners are quite independent and enjoy having long periods of private introspection. You enjoy analyzing a topic from various viewpoints and like the freedom of private study so you can follow discoveries without interruption. You are probably a planner and like to set goals for yourself. Try these tips for solitary learners.
It’s seems obvious, but you’ll want to have places to study so that you can be alone. Identify several options for yourself so if one spot is busy, you can try another. These places will put you in the right mind frame for studying.
Keep a set of earplugs handy. Often solitary learners find outside noise distracting. Play quiet instrumental music or even white noise through earphones if there is outside noise.
Make an agenda. You are a planner so use that strength every time you sit down to study. You might even make a plan for an entire unit or the semester. Just doing that will put you in control of your work and you’ll always know where you are heading.
Try a few approaches from the other learning styles to give you study options while alone. Watch videos or listen to podcasts on a topic to deepen your understanding. Make outlines, flashcards, graphs or drawings that allow you to exercise your natural tendency to organize and plan.
We hope these tips will help you make the most of your classroom and study times and lead you to academic achievement.
Most people find they have a couple of learning styles. You will probably have a dominant one and that approach will usually help you best. Try some techniques of other learning styles and decide if they work for you too. As you discover your best learning process, the benefits will apply not just to your school work, but to your life as well!