Recognizing your preferred learning style is key in finding out how best to study and revise. A few simple changes to your studying routine that fits with they way you learn can make an enormous difference to your rate of success.
Visual learners learn things they see: they prefer written reports, like pictures and diagrams, take copious amounts of notes and make endless lists. If you recognize yourself here, then these study tips will help.
If you're still not sure of your learning style, take a look at the article called ‘What’s Your Learning Style?’ that can be found on this site.
- In class, sit near the front so you have a clear view of the teacher or lecturer. Facial expressions are very important to visual learners, and any visual aids used in the lesson will also be vital to remembering. Do approach your teacher at the end of the lesson if there is anything you are unclear about; simply having a one-to-one conversation, and therefore a clearer view of their face and expressions, may be the switch you need to understand.
- Take lots of notes and write down any explanations. You will not retain anything you hear for long without writing it down.
- Look carefully at any pictures or diagrams shown to you, and copy them if there is time. After class, make yourself some flashcards, use graph paper to make diagrams and use different color highlighters to color-code your notes. This process of reproducing the information you are given will help to imprint it on the memory.
- Organize your work, rewrite, and reorganize; continually looking at and reproducing the work, as well as making it neat and tidy, will help reinforce the points you are trying to learn.
- Make mind-maps, flow diagrams and time-lines – depending on the subject you are studying – to help make the information more visually pleasing. Also, re-creating the material in a variety of different visual formats helps to assimilate and process new ideas and facts.
- Do participate in class discussions, as your tendency is to switch off during verbal interaction. By forcing yourself to take part, you will be less likely to miss any important information – which you will then, of course, write down!
- Try and visualize pictures to go with information you are trying to remember. This can be especially useful in learning foreign language vocabulary. For example, I still picture a cat eating a cake every time I say the Spanish for word cat – gato (gateau).
- Find a suitable place to study. As you need to focus solely on visual information in front of you, try your best to shut out any other form of stimulation. A library cubicle is ideal as it is quiet and no other visual distractions will catch your attention. Do not study with music or the TV on in the background. If necessary, use noise-reducing earplugs to cut out any outside noise.
Try out some or all of these study tips and see what difference it makes to your ability to retain information. Although most people fall mainly into just one of the three learning styles, there may be advice for auditory or kinesthetic learners that you will find useful too, so check out study tips for those learners that can be found on this site.