Studying based off your learning type


Jessica is an NSU doctoral student in the Clinical Psychology Program. She currently works as a writing tutor at the Tutoring and Testing Center.

Most people have heard of auditory, visual and kinesthetic learners, but knowing the specifics of each learning style can really help capitalize on the way we learn. Here are a few tips and tricks for studying that are effective and simple for each style.

Visual Learners

Use colors

Color coding your notes, schedules or to-do lists will help group related information that can later be recalled in more detail. According to psychology researchers Thomas Greene, Paul Bell and William Boyer, warm colors (i.e. red, yellow, and orange) stimulate mental activity and have a greater impact on memory than cool tones (i.e. blue, purple, and grey). Consider highlighting, writing in colored pens or pencils and drawing colored boxes around important information in these colors.

Invest in a whiteboard

It is super easy to use a whiteboard to list facts or draw models from memory. They’re eco-friendly and easy to wipe clean and start over until you have the information down pat. They are also affordable and available just about everywhere.

Incorporate doodles and drawings into your studying

Drawing related pictures on your notes can help you recall the fact by remembering the picture. For example, you might remember that the left brain hemisphere is the more logical side and the right brain is more “artistic” by drawing a brain that has formulas on the left and abstract forms on the right.

In sight, in mind

Make sure all of your calendars and visual tools are readily available in your study space. Pin boards to the walls or have sticky notes posted on or around your desk — use whatever works, as long as you can see it.

Auditory Learners

Learn which sounds help or distract you

If you know that you are distracted by noises, use your resources on campus to find spaces that limit as much noise as possible — the library study rooms are perfect for this. Conversely, if you need a little bit of noise to keep you focused, try listening to instrumental-only music.

Audio record lectures, if given permission

If you can understand what was said better by knowing exactly how it was said, this might be the perfect way to review outside of class. You can listen to recordings in your downtime as background noise; it will help drill the information in without feeling like you are taking too much time out of your day to sit and study.

Teach what you’ve been taught

If you are able to correctly relate concepts to someone, chances are that you have encoded and retained them. If you struggle to fully explain a concept, it’s a good indication that you might need to revisit your notes before trying again.

Kinesthetic Learners

Take hand-written notes

Writing by hand is linked to improved critical thinking and broader conceptual development because it engages more of the brain than typing does. Handwriting your notes better connects you to the information you write and helps with information retention and recall.

Move while you study

Walking, bouncing a ball, tapping your foot and squeezing a stress ball all incorporate movement into your studying. Kinesthetic learners typically move or wiggle a lot naturally, so incorporating purposeful movement into your studying allows you to channel your physical energy into controlled, non-distracting movements. Ultimately, the more you move, the better you focus.

Study in bursts

Kinesthetic learners are more prone to needing frequent breaks because they are more physically active. Set a routine of intense, focused studying for half an hour, then take a ten-minute break, and repeat. This will help keep attention where it needs to be.

Scope out your study space

Make sure your study space has all the tools you need to get your jitters out. This could mean working outside so you can get up and stretch or walk around a bit, or by sitting in a swivel chair that lets you move while you study.