Learning Style Preferences

In Practicing College Learning Strategies, Carolyn H. Hooper writes, "No one else processes information in exactly the same way you do. If you discover how you process information best, you learn things both more efficiently and in less time. By applying strategies that address your learning style, you can study faster and better." 

There are many free assessments to determine your learning style preferences (see below for two of them). Once you have taken the assessments, you will be provided with strategies and tactics to strengthen your learning based on your preferences.

The VARK Questionnairefocuses on the ways in which people like information to come to them and the ways in which they prefer to deliver what they have learned. The acronym VARK stands for Visual, Aural, Read/Write, and Kinesthetic sensory modalities that are used for learning information.

Take the VARK Questionnaire

The Index of Learning Styles Questionnairefocuses on how people prefer information to be presented, and how they process, take in, and organize that information.

Take the Index of Learning Styles Questionnaire

Additional Tips & Strategies

Visual Learner

Visual learners require seeing. You form pictures and see words spelled, problems worked, or situations happening in your mind. You would rather play Pictionary, rather than Gestures or Taboo. When you understand something you will say 'I see,' and you do 'see it' in your mind. You want to see the words written down, a picture of something being described, a time line to remember events in history, or the assignment written on the board.

Helpful Hints for Improving Visual Input:

  • Sit in the front of the class or meeting so you can see everything.
  • Develop skill at note taking to change verbal input into visual input.
  • Sketch course content. Even the simplest sketch can help you remember ideas.
  • List your tasks - even the ones you have completed - just to have the satisfaction of visually crossing out tasks done.
  • Use notes on your favorite colored stickies to help you remember.
  • Evaluate the appearance of your study environment. Make it look conducive to learning. A well-placed poster or an uncluttered desk may help in clearing your mind to be able to study better.
  • Write yourself encouraging notes and post them where you can see them.
  • Picture yourself succeeding - visualize that 'A' on an assignment, test, or project.

Auditory Learner

Auditory learners rely on hearing. You listen to messages in your mind. You can repeat conversations or verbal input word for word. You often know all the words to songs. Radios, iPods, etc. play an important role in your life. You may say, 'I hear you' or 'Sounds good' when you understand. You will also prefer to play 'Taboo' rather than 'Pictionary' or 'Gestures.'

Helpful Hints for Improving Auditory Input:

  • Choose the best classroom location for listening. 
  • Record the class session and listen to your recording.
  • Ask questions in class and listen carefully to the replies.
  • Read the textbook and notes aloud to yourself as you study.
  • Record your textbook or class notes.
  • Teach yourself to read aloud in your mind without making sound. During exams, you can hear the test questions as well as see them.
  • Study with others. Talk about the course material.
  • Tell others like family, roommates, and even pets or stuffed animals, what you are learning in class. Mentally replay these conversations during an exam.
  • When you study, choose auditory input in the background carefully.
  • Speak positively to yourself during your work.
  • Proofread your assignments out loud.
  • You may want to try setting a long or difficult idea to music.

Kinesthetic Learner


Kinesthetic learners need to move around and work manually with ideas. You touch things a lot. Smells and textures are important. You sometimes have difficulty sitting still in class just listening. The more activity you experience while doing a skill, the better you learn it. The more skin and muscles you use, the better you remember. Even small motions that seem unrelated to the activity such as swing a leg, drawing, or knitting help you understand ideas. You also enjoy playing 'Gestures' rather than 'Pictionary' or 'Taboo.' You learn best by doing or experiencing something. The more senses you can involve in learning, the better you will remember it.

Helpful Hints for Improving Kinesthetic Input:

  • Sit where you can actively participate in classroom events.
  • Sit where you can move as needed without disturbing others.
  • Draw pictures in class of the material being taught.
  • Take notes creatively.
  • Ask and answer questions.
  • Make models of the concepts whenever possible.
  • As you study, move around.
  • Walk and talk to yourself about material. Each lap you make, try moving at a different speed or style like skipping, sliding sideways, walking backwards, etc. Also include different voices. Sing, etc.
  • Work on a chalk or whiteboard when you can.
  • Incorporate pictures of models, if possible.
  • Pat yourself on the back - physically - when you do well.
  • Make sure your pen and writing materials please you.
  • Make physical comfort a priority as you study.
  • Make note cards, sample tests.