What’s your learning style and why does it matter?

Post by Open Colleges on August 16th, 2016

There are roughly six different learning styles. You may not know it, but it is more than likely you will fit into one or two of them.

No one learning style is better than the other, they are just different. The end result is the same: you learn.

Often people give up study, or feel that they are not smart enough to study, because they have simply been trying to learn in a way that does not fit with their learning style. Like a square peg in a round hole.

But the good news is, once you find your style, study becomes easier. The things you thought you could never do, well, suddenly you can!

Working with your learning style, instead of trying to squeeze into a different one, will help you to learn more and get the most out of your study.  You may be surprised at just how capable you really are.

Keep reading to find out what your learning style is, and for personalised study tips!


Learning styles

  • Visual: If you are a visual learner you learn best through visual images like graphs, pictures and diagrams.
  • Aural: People who are aural learners, learn best through listening to information and conversations, as well as when listening to music.
  • Verbal: These learners are at home with the written word, and learn best through reading and writing.
  • Physical: Those who are physical learners, learn best when they are physically doing a task, or when they are moving.
  • Logical: Mainly used by people with mathematical minds, the logical learning style involves learning through logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social: People who are social learners, learn best through talking and working in groups.

Do you naturally lean towards one of these? If so, keep reading for specific study tips suited to each style.


If you are a visual learner, you learn best when you “see” your learning. Some study tips you may want to try include:

  • Use colour to highlight chunks of text you want to remember.
  • Write down quotes on colourful paper and put them up on your wall.
  • Doodle or draw as you are listening to tutorials. Doodling may help lock learning into your memory through visual association.
  • Use a different colour font to type-up different concepts, and information that you want to remember.
  • Use outlines, pictures, charts and diagrams to illustrate ideas.
  • Visualise things that you are trying to remember. Make a memory palace for key concepts.



If you’re an aural learner, you tend to do best when you hear information, like in a lecture or during conversation.

You are likely to remember things better if you hear them, and often music may play a big part in your memory.

Some tips to help aural learners study include:

  • Read your study notes out loud.
  • After you read a section or chapter of notes, summarise the key ideas out loud to a friend, the mirror, a family member, or even a pet.
  • Talk through or explain the ideas contained in your study with family and friends.
  • Boil down your readings to a few key points. Record yourself on your phone or with a small tape recorder going over key ideas. Listen back to this recording when you have spare moments to yourself.
  • Make up a song or a jingle that accompanies key study ideas. Sing it to yourself.
  • Make an acronym of your learnings and memorise it by saying it out loud. An example of an acronym would be: SMART goals –

– S: specific
– M: measurable
– A: agreed upon
– R: realistic
– T: time-based goals.



Verbal learners are excellent with words, both written and spoken. They learn best when reading, speaking or listening to information. Verbal learners will generally be good writers, public speakers and debaters.

Tips for verbal learners:

  • Teach others key learnings from your studies.
  • Rewrite your reading materials in your own words.
  • Summarise key points and write flash cards to stick on your walls or around where you study.
  • Make up a debate topic surrounding your studies. Come up with points for and against the argument.
  • Read your study material out loud, and try to make it dramatic.
  • Make up a song that talks about the key ideas in your study materials.



If you find it hard to just sit and read or listen to lectures, and much prefer to learn while doing things, then you may be a physical learner.

You learn best while moving, doing or having a hands-on experience.

Study tips for physical learners:

  • While you are reading your notes, pace or walk around, reading them out loud.
  • Dance, jog, walk or do the washing up while listening to lectures.
  • Tape yourself reading your notes, then listen back to them while doing an activity like exercise, riding a bike, driving or making dinner.
  • Take frequent study breaks and go outside for fresh air.
  • After you finish reading, close your eyes and write the key ideas in the air with your finger.
  • Build a memory palace to store key study ideas in.
  • Make physical representations of the things that you are studying. For example, if you are studying the anatomy of a dog, make a Play-Doh model of a dog.
  • Keep a stress ball in your hand and squeeze or bounce it while you study.
  • Make flashcards of key study points.
  • Make up study songs or jingles which contain key study points.
  • Trace words with your finger as you read them.



Logical learners are great at recognising patterns. They are often very good at maths and logical reasoning. They may also love making lists, itineraries, and creating order.

If you think you may be a logical learner the below tips may help you in your studies:

  • As you learn, make a list of the key points. Keep this list in numbered, sequential order, and keep adding to it as you work your way through your study. Every time you add a point, read over the list again.
  • Make a chart which flows through the step-by-step sequence of your learning.
  • As you go through your learning, whether it be reading, listening to a tutorial or watching a video, try to find patterns, associations and relationships between the concepts and ideas.
  • Create graphs and charts to compliment your learning materials.
  • Aim to understand the content of your learning rather than learning through repetition. This will help you to better absorb the information.



Social learners thrive when other people are around. They love a good chat and they learn best around people and in discussion with people.

Tips for social learners include:

  • Jump onto OpenSpace and get involved in the forum discussions.
  • Make sure you sign up with the Study Buddy system. Having a Study Buddy will allow you to talk about your learning with someone who is at relatively the same point in their studies.
  • Chat to your family and friends about ideas and topics that you are studying.
  • Get your friends and family to quiz you on your learning.
  • Read your study materials aloud. If there is a willing listener your house, you could read to them and also get them to read aloud sections back to you.
  • Make a presentation of key learnings and deliver it to someone you know.
  • Get a whiteboard or mirror and a white board marker. Teach a class on what you are learning to someone that you know, or to an empty room.


Once you know the learning styles that work for you, applying the tips above could be the difference between a good study session and a great one. Try it for yourself!

General advice
Open Colleges
By Open Colleges

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