Know your learning style

It’s very important when studying that you understand the way you learn.  The way information is received and understood varies for each person, so some will learn by reading, others by listening, seeing or doing.  Most people learn by using a combination of these methods.

Knowing your learning style will help you choose the best method of studying as well as the best resources to select. For example, if you are a visual learner then you will prefer to learn from a video, rather than a book.

A man sitting in a park in the sun. He has is using a laptop, while consulting a book, He has headphones around his neck, ready for use.

Things to do

Identify your learning style

Here are some tips to help you identify your learning style. You can download and complete the Know Your Learning Style activity sheet (below) or go to the VARK website (below) and do the VARK learning style questionnaire.

The Visual Learner learns through seeing. If you are a visual learner, you might:

  • ask for verbal instructions to be repeated
  • pay attention to body language and facial expressions
  • write notes repeatedly or uses diagrams to remember information
  • prefer information to be presented visually
  • use mental pictures to remember things
  • get distracted by background noise
  • follow written instructions better than spoken ones
  • be good at solving jigsaw puzzles.

The Auditory Learner learns through hearing. If you are an auditory learner, you might:

  • prefer spoken directions over written ones
  • listen to a lecture rather than read a textbook
  • understand better when reading out loud
  • listen to the radio rather than read a newspaper
  • use your finger as a pointer when reading
  • choose listening to music over viewing a piece of art
  • think out load and often hum or talk to yourself
  • enjoy question and answer sessions and small group discussions.

The Kinesthetic Learner learns through doing. If you are a kinesthetic learner, you might:

  • reach out to touch things
  • use hand gestures when talking
  • frequently fidget
  • have good co-ordination
  • enjoy working with your hands and making things
  • prefer to do things rather than watch a demonstration or read instructions
  • want to be doing something
  • like to work standing up and take frequent study breaks.

Learn how to study using your learning style

If reading is your preferred learning style:

  • make notes in your own words of the things you are learning
  • read material again and again.

If listening is your preferred learning style:

  • discuss new information you are learning with friends, family or your teacher
  • use a tape recorder to record information you are learning and listen to it several times
  • explain things you have learnt to other people
  • read your own notes onto tapes and listen to them
  • say things over and over to yourself.

If seeing is your preferred learning style:

  • draw or use pictures to remember the things you are learning
  • use highlighters to highlight important words in your notes in different colours
  • underline important words in your notes
  • make notes on information you have read or seen using pictures, highlighted and underlined words, diagrams and mindmaps
  • practice turning mindmaps and pictures back into words.

If doing is your preferred learning style:

  • practice doing the things you are learning, on your own
  • practice doing the things you are learning, with someone else
  • show someone else how to do what you’ve learnt.

Activity sheets

  • Know your learning style [DOCX]