Study Tips for Visual, Auditory, and Tactile Learners
Not everyone learns well under a single strategy. Class lectures are great introductions to theories, ideas, and materials, but they often leave something to be missed by most learners. We wanted to examine the three most prominent learning styles and give some tips to those learners to help them bridge any gaps in understanding and put their study time to its best use.
It’s estimated that around 40% of the population learns best visually. Visual learners depend on their eyes to connect the dots. They look for a visual representation of the material, like concept maps, pictures, graphs, etc. You might be a visual learner if you:
- Like to see different angles of issues.
- You better retain information when given visual patterns
- Prefer to read instructions rather than listen to them.
Study tips for the Visual Learner:
- Color code. Simply seeing information laid out in front of you might not be the best way to retain and memorize it. Color code the material, by breaking down different themes or buckets that the information falls into. This will help you group information and see the connections between things.
- Create graphs. If you’re working with data, or any information really, a graph will go a long way to help visual learners fully comprehend and analyze the material they are studying.
- Make outlines. Dense blocks of text are often difficult to sort through for visual learners. Turn any heavy reading materials into outlines, where you can pinpoint the important information and base your studying off those outlines.
Auditory learners turn to their ears to cement information. They prefer to listen to their study materials, and probably don’t mind the traditional lecture scenario. You might be one of the 25-30% of people who is an auditory learner if you:
- Are an excellent listener.
- Solve problems by talking through them.
- Repeat information out loud to memorize or learn it.
Study tips for the Auditory Learner:
- Record lectures. Take a simple recorder, or utilize your smartphone’s recorder, to capture lectures and listen to them later.
- Gather study groups. Auditory learners study well with others who prefer to examine study materials and discuss them out loud.
- Recite materials. Pinpoint main study ideas and recite them aloud to yourself.
Tactile (Kinesthetic) Learners
Tactile or kinesthetic learners learn best by using their hands and observing physical models. Most children are tactile learners, and though we may learn differently as adults, many of us still use strategies like counting on our fingers to connect to early knowledge we learned. You might be a tactile learner if you:
- Can’t sit still for very long while studying or learning.
- Prefer practicing skills hands-on over being instructed before trying.
- Remember things best after writing them down several times.
Study tips for the Tactile Learner:
- Study with activities. Tactile learners don’t learn well while sitting still. When you’re on your own, turn your studying into activities or games. Getting up, moving around, and interacting with the study materials will help you better understand them.
- Take frequent breaks. Many students think taking frequent breaks is counter-productive, but it’s often actually the opposite for tactile learners. Whenever you feel like you’re not learning or focusing anymore, it’s time to take a quick break to rest your mind.
- Draw! As a tactile learner, you might do well to busy your hands and draw out your main study ideas. Draw graphs, models, or even just draw out objects and ideas as you encounter them.
Everyone learns a little differently—in fact, there are actually seven learning styles, so if one of these doesn’t sound like you, all is not lost. If you’re not sure which sounds like you, try taking this online quiz to see where you fit. We hope knowing your learning style and applying these tips help you as you take on your exams and quizzes and cram before midterms!