Everyone learns differently. Some people retain information best by hearing (auditory learners), some by seeing (visual learners), and some by doing (tactile learners). And sometimes people fall into more than one category. If you understand how you learn, you can make adjustments in the classroom and during study time to set yourself up for success.
Today, we have some tips for visual learners (or really for anyone who is looking to diversify their study habits!). If you’re a visual learner, it helps to see the information you’re trying to understand. This means merely listening to a lecture might not cut it. Fortunately, there are some strategies to help visual learners use their strengths to their advantage.
Here are some techniques to try the next time you’re sitting in class or prepping for that upcoming test:
1. Take good notes.
While this might seem obvious, taking quality notes is incredibly important. Writing information down will help you remember it long-term, and a consistent note-taking method will make those notes easier to review when it comes time to prepare for the test. Stay organized and do your best to write legibly. For those who want to take their notes to the next level, try color-coding by topic or highlighting big ideas. The color will draw your eye and help you visually make sense of what you’ve written.
2. Look at the person who is speaking.
Putting an image to the words you hear will help you retrieve that information later. When you’re sitting in a lecture, make eye contact with your teacher or professor rather than staring off into space or closing your eyes. If you’re listening to an audiobook or podcast, try taking notes as you listen or looking at an image related to the subject of the material.
3. Diagram and chart out information.
Drawing out what you’ve learned can be a great way to synthesize large amounts of information and establish connections between ideas. Think timelines, concept maps, or idea webs. Creating any of these will not only familiarize you with the material, but help you establish a big-picture understanding of what you’ve learned. Not to mention, they’re great study materials to review before the test.
4. Make (and use) flashcards.
Making flashcards is great. It involves writing out the material. It requires critical thinking in order to categorize information from most to least valuable. However, flashcards can only do so much if you don’t put them to use, so be sure to flip through them every once in a while. A helpful tip: try making flashcards based on what you’ve learned each week rather than waiting until right before the test to cover everything. Your writing hand—and your test scores—will thank you.
5. Avoid distracting noise.
Typically, visual learners don’t do well with a ton of noise or movement when studying. To avoid this issue, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Some visual learners do enjoy soft background music, but if you are one of these, try music without lyrics, maybe a movie soundtrack or work by your favorite classical composer, so you can keep your mind on the task at hand.
6. Search for additional digital resources.
Keep your eye out for videos or other digital content related to your class. Don’t be afraid to ask your teacher if there are any supplementary materials they would recommend. Education doesn’t have to be painful. If you can find a way to engage with the class content, you’ll not only understand it better, you may even enjoy the process of learning along the way!
Understanding how you learn might not be clean-cut. It might take trying multiple techniques to see what fits you best. Running into a wall? Ask for help. If you’re in high school, your school counselor or your teachers might be able to offer some new ideas when it comes to study skills. If you’re in college, check in with your tutoring center. Or you can look online! Bethel University’s Academic Enrichment and Support Center offers some great online resources to help you build your study skills.