How to Use Your Learning Style to Your Advantage

different learning stylesWhen it comes to learning new things, we’re all different. We learn differently, we retain information differently, and your study habits may be entirely unlike your peers’ – and that’s okay! Understanding your learning style and what works specifically for you can put you at a tremendous advantage.

Many people have a mix of different learning styles, with some styles playing more prominent roles than others. Others find that they prefer using different learning styles in different situations. There is no perfect mix for everyone, nor are these styles set in stone. Take a look at the learning styles listed below, and think about which you identify with most. Check out the tips and strategies, and start experimenting. Does color-coding your notes help you memorize the material faster? Do you find yourself enjoying certain subjects more when you organize study groups? You’re on the right track.

Through recognition of different learning styles and an understanding of your personal preferences, you can tailor your methods and achieve greater academic success.

Here’s an overview of the seven different types:

  • Visual / Spatial: You learn best through pictures and images, and you interpret information through spatial reasoning.

Strategies and Tips: Seek visual learning materials as often as possible, such as films and Powerpoint presentations. When taking notes and studying, try adding your own images or diagrams, or incorporate color in with highlighters and post-it notes. For example, if you’re trying to memorize muscle names for a physiology test, don’t just list everything out. Instead, draw the outline of a body and test yourself by marking each muscle with an arrow directly on the picture.

  • Aural / Auditory-Musical: You learn best through sound and music, and background tunes or ambient noise helps you study.

Strategies and Tips: Figure out how you can tune into the auditory portions of your courses, and try not to miss lectures – you may have trouble understanding new material just from reading out of textbook. Seek out opportunities to use music and sounds as a study tool, including setting review materials to music, and using rhymes and mnemonic phrases . Feel free to get silly: need to remember the U.S. capitals? Learn them with a song. Listening to music while studying may also help.

  • Verbal / Linguistic: You have a way with words, a passion for prose, and impeccable spelling and grammar.

Strategies and Tips: Take notes as much as possible, and discuss what you’ve learned with others. The more you write and talk about it, the more you’ll retain. Even if you don’t need to look over your notes again later, the physical act of writing will help. Some people opt to re-write notes or read through them out loud as study strategies. Similar to aural learners, you’ll likely benefits from incorporating rhymes, mnemonic phrases, and songs.

  • Physical / Kinesthetic: Do you get antsy sitting in a classroom? Physical learners prefer a hands-on, active approach.

Strategies and Tips: Pay attention to the sensory components of your classroom and maximize their potential for successful learning. If you find that sitting through long lectures makes you restless, seek quiet options for staying engaged that won’t distract others, such as squeezing a stress ball. Use study strategies that allow you to move around a bit, such as flipping over flashcards, building models, or even doing a light activity like walking on a treadmill while reviewing your notes. Writing and drawing also count as physical activity – get creative by using large posterboard or a whiteboard to create diagrams and images.

  • Logical / Mathematics: You strive to understand the full picture, through reasoning, systems, and logic.

Strategies and Tips: Read all classroom materials thoroughly, going back and re-reading as needed. You may need to seek out additional resources, if any pertinent information is missing. Discuss with your teacher or tutor until you can fully grasp the theory and logic of what you’re learning. On the other hand, try not to over-analyze! Some students can get caught up in thinking about the big picture, so make sure you keep the eye on the clock and stay focused.

  • Social / Interpersonal: You’re a “people person” who prefers to work in groups, study with peers, and discuss material out loud.

Strategies and Tips: Seek opportunities to work with other people, both in class and outside of class. Consider creating a regular study group that can cram together before tests, as well as a homework group to provide support for others as needed.

  • Solitary / Intrapersonal: You’re okay with being on your own, and prefer to work individually and apply self-study methods.

Strategies and Tips: Don’t feel bad if you want to sit alone in class and study on your own! You might still be required to do some group projects as assigned, but the remainder of your study time can be done on your own. Find a quiet place, listen to music if that helps you, and experiment with which environments work best for you.

Now that you’ve determined your learning style, you can take these tips and incorporate them into your study sessions so you’re more effective and retain more. Of course, if you’re still struggling, don’t worry. Most private tutors have an understanding of the different styles, and can cater the lessons to your individual needs – something you might not be able to get in a classroom setting. Ready to find a tutor near you? Start your search here.

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Photo by mer chau