What Is Your Preferred Learning Style?

By  •  Updated: 11/15/22 •  7 min read

Here’s another interesting article about how do you study. We will describe here the VARK model, as people like to learn in different ways. Do you know your own style? Have a read, I do believe you will find it interesting!

First of all Happy New Year! I and the whole crew at Practice Tests Academy wish you all the best and a lot of success with your CIMA exams!

Any discussion on learning styles has to also involve consideration of teaching styles. If you think about it, this discussion is similar to talking about love: how to love someone or how you like being loved.

Some people prefer to be shown love with a kiss, hug, a touch or caress. Others want to hear the words “I love you”. And some may want to see it written down in a little love note, or in a card or a text message. Yet another may want to receive gifts or flowers as a way of displaying love and affection. There is nothing wrong with any of that. They are people’s preferences for how they want to be loved.

And in return we show love and affection differently too. We have our own preferences in how we demonstrate love. Understanding these preferences in the people we love, and matching how we demonstrate love to meet their needs is important. A mismatch could be a disaster for a relationship. If you loved one wants to hear you say the words, but you are showering her with affection, cards and gifts, that is a mismatch. When all someone wants is a box of chocolates and a poem, throwing them a lavish party may not really cut it. So we need to adapt. 

The same goes for learning styles. Everyone learns differently. Most of us do not have much of a choice in how our teachers and lecturers teach us. Many of us sat in primary and secondary class rooms or in college and learned things while a teacher spoke to us and wrote on a black or white board. Some of us did better in that setting than others. People like Albert Einstein and Richard Branson were among those who did not do so well in traditional class rooms. While there are many lessons to be learnt from such examples of people who fared poorly in traditional ways, but went on to do spectacular things in life, we can still expect generations of young people to still be learning in traditional class rooms with teachers using the age old teaching styles.

So just as with loving, let us take the burden of understanding our own learning styles and discovering how we can use that heightened awareness to maximise our learning. If we don’t we only have ourselves to blame.

People can learn in different ways

Learning styles have been classified in a number of ways.

The VARK system divides learners into four primary groups:

V – Visual learners who prefer visual aids and seeing things to learn best.
A – Auditory learners, who prefer to learn what they hear
R – Those who learn by reading and writing
K – Kinesthetic learners who like doing things hands on and with the sense of touch

You can find out which of the VARKs you prefer, with this quiz.

Then there is the classification of the 7 Learning Styles:

  • Visual or spatial learners prefer using pictures, images, and spatial understanding.
  • Aural learners depend on hearing.
  • Verbal learners prefer using words both written and spoken to enhance learning.
  • Physical or kinaesthetic learners use their bodies, hands and the sense of touch to optimize learning.
  • Logical or mathematical learners prefer using logic, reasoning and systems.
  • Social or interpersonal learners learn best in groups and discussions with other people.
  • Solitary or intrapersonal learners like to study and work alone.

As you can see, there is an overlap in the different lists. You can also see that people’s personality traits—being gregarious, or being a loner—and most likely their level of comfort with social interactions can play a role in determining the preferred learning styles.

There are also other ways of dividing learning styles such as:

Your learning style matters

Yes, understanding your preferred learning style will help you become a more productive learner.

For example, if you feel you are a visual learner, try using mind maps and similar techniques to study, summarize and practice your lessons. You will be all the more effective for it.

And if you believe you learn best by hearing things, you can not just attend lectures and seminars, but also resort to reading audio books or having your lectures read out with a simple app, such as the Windows Narrator, may improve your learning effectiveness.

Your preferred learning style is a tiny part of a big tool box

As we noted in a previous post, you learn better when you involve more than one sense in your learning process. The more senses you involve in creating memories, the better you’d be able to recall them later. So we owe it to ourselves to explore beyond our preferred learning style. Doing so enables us to maximize our human potential for learning.

Visual learners can try to see how they can engage auditory and sense of touch into their learning and study experiences. Get up and write down a mind map on a wall chart. See how it looks from different angles.

Auditory learners can experiment with how visual study techniques can help them master study materials more effectively. Don’t just read to yourself, rinse and repeat. Experiment. Try to summarize in writing. Then read it out loud or try giving a lecture.
Some people find that they learn better by teaching others. It’s not just hearing one’s own voice that matters here. It’s the entire experience of learning how to explain something to another person by putting yourself in their shoes.

All of this will help make your learning more multisensory, and therefore, more memorable.

Explore the entire learning styles tool box

Don’t just settle for the familiar or the routines when studying. Boring stuff are easily forgotten. To be effective, we need to make your learning memorable, imaginative, unusual. It is what captures your attention that retains in memory. So don’t hesitate to experiment with new and unfamiliar learning styles. They are capable of providing you more and stronger memory hooks on which to peg your learning and memories.

Need more encouragement to experiment?
If you want some more inspiration or inducement to experiment with other learning styles than your preferred ones, watch this video.

In it, cognitive psychologist and neuroscientist, Prof. Daniel T Willingham of the University of Virginia says “learning styles don’t exist.” So then, all the more reason to use whatever the tools in your learning toolbox to maximize learning.

Don’t settle for mediocrity

You goal surely is a loftier one. As Bo Bennett notes,

“Every day, people settle for less than they deserve. They are only partially living or at best living a partial life. Every human being has the potential for greatness.”

So aim for the stars; bring out your latent potential. And one great way to do it is to experiment. Do not discount unfamiliar learning styles without trying it out. You never know what unusual or obscure combination may tip the balance in your favour when you are trying to remember an important fact during your studies or in a critical moment during an exam.