You walk into your room and see the pile of books that need to be studied before the end of the year. It’s a lot. You wonder how you can get through the stress of exams. Don’t worry, you are not alone! Millions of students have the same thought every year. So we thought we’d put together some helpful tips to help you help yourself.
First things first, what’s the best way for you to learn?
It’s worth having think and figuring out what resonates the most, whether it’s writing out notes repeatedly until the content sticks or debates with classmates that really clears things up. Or if that’s too difficult, you could always try this quiz. Whatever works :)
There are a few different learning styles and each requires a different approach, all of which will be explained below. Briefly, Visual learners like using symbols, colours and mind maps to display information; Aural/Auditory learners find discussions and listening the easiest to take in information; Read/Write learners are at their best when reading and writing essays, reports, books, poetry, PowerPoint presentations and even dictionaries; and finally, Kinaesthetic learners find acting out situations or using lived experiences is the best method to properly understand material.
More often than not, people find themselves identifying traits from a combination of the learning styles so make sure you read through all sections. But if it’s Learning From Home you’re struggling with, make sure to check out our LFH guide here.
Are you a Visual Learner?
This does not mean you learn by looking at photographs or videos or presentations. Instead, it means you take in information by looking at graphics instead of reading words; things like arrows, mind maps and flowcharts that represent processes or direction visually.
Information isn’t always displayed like this at school or university, so sometimes its easier to make your own notes from a textbook or worksheets — here’s a good video on that!
Things you should try
- Mind maps are your new best friends. Use textbooks or class presentations and make notes by turning paragraphs into flowcharts, mind maps, graphs or labelled diagrams.
- For more inspiration on how to make mind maps watch the video below:
3. Make your notes as colourful as you can by highlighting, underlining, using different fonts and symb@!s. Colours make it easier for you to take in information and recall it. Feel free to add small drawings or colour code your notes to make them easier for you.
4. Try structuring your notes in a way that makes sense to you — whether that’s making one mind map/flowchart per topic on A4 paper or making huge mind maps for entire subjects on a classroom whiteboard.
5. You can always do this by hand with a pen and paper, but if you prefer using a laptop or tablet to make notes you can try apps like GoodNote or Notability.
Aural/Auditory Learners 101
This means you find it easier to take in information when you’re listening or speaking, for example in lectures, debates and discussions, podcasts, audiobooks or even talking things over with a friend or family member.
Sing when you’re learning!
One thing to keep in mind is that it’s common for this type of learner to repeat things that have already been said or ask obvious or previously answered questions. This is just the way you understand things, sometimes you have to put it in your own words to really get it.
Things you should try
- Find or start a discussion or debate group — this is a really useful way to challenge yourself and argue your case, and offers an easy exposure to new information and perspectives.
If you prefer something less formal, here are some more casual things you can do:
- Explain or teach your ideas and material to someone — a friend, a tutor, a family member or someone interested in the subject.
- Compare ideas with a classmate, teacher or tutor — this is a good way to gain new perspectives without having to formally debate.
- Make your own revision podcasts — record yourself going through material and listen to yourself while cooking, going on a walk or getting the bus. This is super easy to do on most smartphones, just look for the voice memo or recording app.
- Make sure you’re actually paying attention to others — sometimes you can start to plan what you’re going to say and not listen actively. Try these tips:
- Make eye contact with the speaker
- Ask questions to clarify anything you don’t understand
- Paraphrase things back to the person speaking, sentences like “what you’re saying is…” “in other words…”
How to spot a Read/Write learner
This is the most common type of learner for teachers and students, no surprises there! It basically means you’re at your best when you are reading and writing essays, reports, books, poetry, PowerPoint presentations and even dictionaries.
Learning through reading and writing
Things you should try
- Making notes in the form of lists, using titles and subheadings that clearly explain each section. You can try bullet points, numbered lists or your own system.
- The Cornell note taking method is a good one to try if you’re struggling for inspiration.
- Your notes can be summarised into your own words, or taken verbatim from texts, whatever works best for you. Just be careful with plagiarism if you are taking things directly, you may have to reference them — double check with your teacher or tutor.
- For revision, try taking the notes you’ve made in lessons or lectures and rewrite them, maybe taking the time to reorganise the lists you’ve made or add in more information you think is relevant. You can do this as many times as you need.
- Add a short sentence under (or instead of) any graphs or diagrams explaining their relevance or importance.
- Rereading your notes can be a good way to study them and find things you may have forgotten to add.
- If you’re studying English Literature or you need to memorise quotes or words for another subject, try making flashcards for each quote and sticking them all over your house. In the toilet or shower can be useful to force yourself to encounter them, or even where you do your makeup or exercise, or the ceiling.
An introduction to Kinaesthetic Learners
These are people who are very connected to reality and learn best by doing or when they’re actively engaged. They need ‘concrete personal experiences, examples, practice or simulation’ according to Fleming & Mills (1992, pp. 140–141).
Are you a physical learner?
Very often, kinaesthetic learners have a great physical memory so they’ll easily recall any science experiments or PE lessons. But it’s very easy to be distracted by their surroundings, daydreaming thoughts and very theoretical material.
Things you should try
- Try and find real world examples of what you’re trying to learn — things like case studies or documentaries can be really useful to understand material. Add these into your notes or revision.
- You could always try simulating or acting out a situation that is hard for you to picture or understand. This works best with peers, by putting yourself in that situation it’ll stick better.
- Make flashcards and turn revision into an activity. Here’s a good video on how to make really engaging flashcards, but if you’re short for time these are the main points:
- Try to summarise everything as much as possible. Say you have a set of flashcards for each topic in a subject, make the first card a summary of each topic.
- Swap words like therefore/because and increasing/decreasing for symbols and abbreviate any long words to initials. This is helpful in engaging your brain, because when you look at it later you’ll have to replace the symbols and initials for the correct words.
- Use both sides of a flashcard, one side can be a prompt or a question and the other can be an explanation, quote, or more information.
- Schedules and breaks are very important, as it’s hard to stay focused for a long time. You could try using the Pomodoro Technique where you spend 25mins working and then take 5 minutes off. Or if that’s not your cup of tea, break up your day with walks or mini stretch sessions or switch activity every hour to avoid boredom.
- Create a calm, clean and pleasant learning environment. Maybe have a candle or a diffuser with your favourite scent, and put your headphones on and listen to a focus playlist to really get in the zone. Put your phone in another room or in a cupboard where you can physically close a door and distance yourself from it.
- Discussions can be really helpful to consolidate information in your head, so talk to a friend, family member, classmate, teacher or tutor and explain what you’ve learnt that day.
- If you find it hard to sit still for long periods of time, try chewing gum or squeezing a stress ball to continue moving in a non-distracting way.
Something for everyone
One thing that does suit all learners is a dedicated and personalised learning experience, and the best way to get this is through a private tutor. On Scoodle, we have some of the best tutors across the UK delivering quality lessons every week to students struggling with online classes or upcoming teacher assessments. Have a browse on our website or get in touch if you have any questions!
Find the perfect tutor on Scoodle
We hope that you found this article useful! It’s important to know that very many people fit into more than one of the categories above, so feel free to mix and match techniques and suggestions that work for you and your child.