What's your learning style?


It’s hardly breaking news – people learn differently. However, over the years the different learning styles have been generalised as visual, physical (learning by doing) and audible. Simple? Not quite; these learning styles can be dissected down even further to arrive with a handful of sub-sections.

Learning is a complicated concept as everyone is unique in their own way, so it only follows that your learning is complicated too. That said, it’s common that learning is broken up into seven categories. Which best describes your learning style?


Graphics, presentations, pictures and visual media help you learn. You often find listening to an explanation can leave you feeling lethargic, but it’s easier to focus on visuals without drifting off.

  • Transform your notes into bright, colourful pictures or charts. This sounds like child’s play, right? You couldn't be more wrong. Visuals are used in academic study by people of all ages, right through to a workplace environment.
  • Avoid distractions (looking out the window or visiting social feeds etc.) We’re all aware of the procrastination phenomenon. You have a deadline looming; however, instead of doing your work you’re fiddling with mindless things like checking your phone every second, surfing blogs and forums. You should be learning, but you just don’t feel like doing anything. Get into the habit of breaking your work up and remain focused.
  • Use flash cards when studying vocabulary. This visual tool is especially useful when making short, concise notes. Perhaps you’re preparing for a presentation and you can’t seem to remember your lines – these can offer you a quick prompt.


You learn best by "doing things” that use the body to assist learning. Honestly, it’s actually rather simple. Physical objects, gestures and role play are just a selection of the strategies used by the Physical learner.

  • Keep in mind that writing and drawing diagrams are physical acts too. Don’t be tricked into thinking that physical learning is all about moving the "body.” You should consider that a physical act and can involve many common learning techniques.
  • Where possible you should be involved in the practical involvement of content, whether this is conducting an experiment or writing a report; so long as you can see the relevance in the act you do doing you’re more likely to be engaged.
  • When studying, you should create an immersive environment in which you can lose yourself in a project. You could utilize whatever keeps you senses alert. Turn up the radio and don’t be afraid to move around a bit – sitting still will leave you bored and irritable.


These learners learn best by what they hear. They can do this best by face-to-face discussions. Their note-taking and reading speed is often slower than others; with the prospect of poorly drafted notes, they prefer to listen and interpret. Auditory learners benefit from speaking their answers aloud when revising, repeating the answers inside their heads.

    • You are probably best suited to the classroom environment. However, this does mean there is little you can do to further your study. Audio resources, such as podcasts, recording devices or the radio could greatly aid your study. That said, these learners would benefit from the use of voice recognition software which would mean voice recorded lectures, rather than hand written notes. The voice recognition software, Dragon Naturally Speaking, which you can purchase online at Software4students, would be ideal for an auditory learning student.


    These learners are comfortable with using words to study; they learn with the use of information presented in a textual format such as, hand-outs, lists or books. They often take notes word-for-word and favour teachers that use long, descriptive sentences. When presented with visual information they would benefit from translating this information into concise list form.

      • Besides taking notes in class, there are endless resources available online for those with a reading and writing disposition. E-books, journals, articles and essays are all great tools for you; with a simple Google search, it’s all too easy to access these tools. You’ll soon find reading back to your classmates a breeze as these will aid your recall of content very quickly.


      If you have this learning style, you have a more private and introspective approach to work. You focus well when you’re alone with your thoughts and feelings about a specific subject. Finding yourself in the library, you start to analyse the different ways you think and feel.

        • Start by setting your goals, plans and objectives in advance. Define clear observations or scripts (if you’re feeling extra productive) about what life will be like once you pass your exams. Understand the reasoning behind each objective, and ensure that you are positive about your learning goals.
          • Keep a log or journal to monitor your progress. You may want to keep this separate from your notes ad past papers; include information about your thoughts and feelings each day. What did you find particularly challenging? How could you overcome this? Write down what does and doesn’t work for you, so you know where to go from there. However, consider putting aside anything that confuses you and ask others later. This is often better than wasting time trying to figure it out yourself.


          Using this learning style means that your mind is open to logical and mathematical reasoning. You can recognise the connection between seemingly contrasting content. This also lead you to working through problems in a systematic way, creating procedures for future use.

            • You often find yourself overanalysing certain parts of your learning techniques: analysis paralysis. You may be busy, but are you moving towards your goal? If you find you’re overanalysing which test sheet to start first, over planning study timetables, stop and focus on the activities needed to progress your learning.
              • Don’t neglect your body from all rational thought. Pay attention to your physical state and keep yourself hydrated. Remember that you are just as important as any equipment you might be using – if you don’t feel up to working, it will reflect in your results!

              SOCIAL LEARNERS

              Having a strong social role means you communicate well with others. You are the one that people come to for advice (a good listener) and you’re sensitive to their emotions and feelings. This means you often sit well in a leadership role, monitoring and guiding others through difficult projects. 

              HELPFUL ADVICE
              • Aim to work with others as much as possible. Perhaps you could form study groups with others at a similar level.
              • Share your reviews and ideas with others in the group. By sharing how you and others solve problems, it may help you progress with your studies. Try writing a "personal performance script.” Each person writes down an area they are struggling with and the scripts are collect