We all know that one friend who doesn’t have to study, or even look at any of the material until the morning of the test. And then, almost miraculously, they ace it!
If you aren’t in school anymore, then there’s a good chance you have a colleague who spends half the time you do preparing for a meeting and yet seems to carry the conversation without a hitch, while you find yourself stammering. It’s a frustrating occurrence that can often cause jealousy and resentment toward people we would typically care about.
But it turns out that it may simply be a reflection of their awareness of which learning style suits them.
Everyone has a specific learning style that is most efficient for them. Maybe you refer to yourself as a visual learner – according to some studies, as many as 65% of people who make up the population do. These individuals use pictures and other imagery to learn and retain information.
The friend from earlier, the one who can seemingly just show up to a test and know the answers? They’re probably an aural learner, and retained most all of what was audibly taught in the class. It isn’t that they don’t care about doing well in their studies, but rather that reading and studying visually would be borderline useless – they learned everything they needed to through listening.
7 Different Types of Learning Styles You Should Know
Perhaps you always aced those tests, too, but it didn’t feel as fulfilling since your friend didn’t study to attain the same grade, but you were up all night reading and re-reading your flash cards.
Neither of you did anything wrong; it just so happens that you’re a visual learner and that’s how you attain the information. Or is it?
Many of us assume we are visual learners because it seems to make sense. And with such a high statistic boasting that title, it’s a fair assumption. Plus, think about the things we remember day-to-day. Most of it comes from what we read or saw through social media or experience. But how do we determine our style for sure?
While there isn’t solid research suggesting we can sleep on books to absorb the words, there are still up to seven types of learning styles that you can identify with to help you know how to turn studying and preparation into an easy task.
All of the styles can be mixed with each other, but picking and choosing can become pretty overwhelming. Looking at the list below, I would assume I’m a visual learner first and foremost, but I’d probably toss in some verbal and social styles, too.
- “Visual (spatial): You prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
- Aural (auditory, musical): You prefer using sound and music.
- Verbal (linguistic): You prefer using words, both in speech and writing.
- Physical (kinesthetic): You prefer using your body, hands.
- Logical (mathematical): You prefer using logic, reasoning, and systems.
- Social (interpersonal): You prefer to learn in groups or with other people.
- Solitary (Intrapersonal): You prefer to work alone and use self-study.]
Learning Approaches for Different Learners
Once you’ve identified the learning styles that pertain to you, it’s important to know how to learn using those methods:
Visual Learners should use color, layouts, and spatial organization in their associations. Mind maps and diagrams are also especially helpful. Visual Learners should also highlight key terms and phrases as often as they see fit; the color will help them remember that information later.
Social Learners should aim to work with groups often. If in school, a study group would be ideal. If in a career, a social learner would want heavy focus on collaborative meetings and workshops. Another technique would be peer reviewing others’ works and ideas.
With social learners, it’s all about interaction.
Physical Learners are all about touch and movement. If you’ve ever interacted with an engineer, it probably didn’t take long to learn that they love taking things apart and putting them back together. This is a physical technique to help them learn how things work and why.
Flashcards also help physical learners, because although it’s technically a visual aid, touching and moving the cards is physical. When it comes to note taking, describing the physical feelings of your actions is ideal.
Aural Learners use sound, rhyme, and music. Sound recordings and are great, as they help focus on using aural content for associations and visualization. Aural learners, depending on how often they practice the technique, can typically recall all information associated with a sound simply by thinking of the sound – they don’t have to hear it.
Verbal Learners should focus on techniques that rely on speaking and writing. Similar to Aural learning, Verbal Learners should make the most of word-based techniques like rhyme and rhythm. Mnemonics, especially acronym mnemonics that use first letters of the words are helpful for this style of learning, as well as scripting.
Verbal Learners not only read content aloud to remember it, but make it dramatic and varied to ensure it sticks with them.
Solitary Learners need quiet time and the ability to study on their own. It’s important for Solitary Learners to grasp the end goal and why it should be important for them. Defining goals, objectives, and plans helps these learners define ultra-clear objectives.
Keeping a log or journal can help Solitary Learners outline ideas and connect personally to the topic at hand.
Logical Learners aim to understand the reasoning behind things. Truly grasping the details behind content helps the material to be memorable. When studying, Logical Learners should use lists and statistics. Association can work well, too, as long as it’s illogical. Though this may seem counterintuitive, the illogicality of it helps the Logical Leaner call it to mind. Not surprisingly, these learners may sometimes overanalyze certain things that can lead to a mental block. If this happens, it’s important to refocus on what propels you closer to your goal.