If you’ve ever wondered how “smart” student study thinking that whatever it is that they’re doing, you could do the same and join them at the high end of the learning curve, then you’ve got it all wrong! Just because you see the highest scoring student in your p-chem class shuffling through his stack of flashcards in the library doesn’t mean that you go and run to make your own set of cards. Little do you know (or maybe you do know and you’re just denying it) you may not be the visual-repetitive learning type. You’ll go ahead, make your flash cards, spend hours giving your wrist a workout flipping them over and over, and then test day comes and you don’t recall a single piece of information from your flash cards.

So here’s the deal…experts say that each person has a unique learning profile that consists of various components. Once you discover your brains unique preferred way of absorbing, storing, and retrieving information, you will begin to study more effectively and perform better on exams. You may have already identified your preferred way of absorbing knowledge but have yet to see it at its maximum potential. So what it comes down to is that you can be a “smart” student if you just take the time to identify and strengthen your learning style and not try to adapt someone else’s. It may sound a bit corny but understanding your own learning style is the key to your success. You probably already know a lot about what works for you and what doesn’t. Research on individual learning styles has lead to multiple ways to define how people learn differently. “There is no one way to define a learner and no one ‘right’ test to take to find out how you learn”.

The following is information about learning characteristics and strategies for different types of learners. Students should think about what applies to them and how it can help them become “smart” students. Many studies have revealed that students who are able to identify their learning styles can use the information to improve comprehension and memory.

What’s your learning style? Take the quiz.

So the first step is to begin by identifying if you are a visual, audio, or kinesthetic/tactile learner.

Directions: To find out what you learning style is add 1 point for each statement that STRONGLY fits your personality.

  • I prefer to listen to books on tape or to read books aloud.
  • The more I discuss a problem with my classmates, I find it easier to find a solution
  • I remember what people have said before I remember who said it.
  • I like to complete one task before starting a new one.
  • A train could be passing through my living room and I would still be able to hold a good conversation with my Aunt Sally on the phone.
  • When I forget how to spell a word, I sound it out.
  • My papers and notebooks always seem messy
  • When I read, I need to use my index finger to tract my place on the line
  • I would rather listen and learn than read and learn
  • In school, I only needed to attend class lectures to perform fine on the tests.

  • When I take on a project, I want to start doing instead of planning.
  • When I need to take a break from studying, I have to get up and move around my room.
  • I can work effectively in Starbucks or at a table in the cafeteria –
  • I don’t need to be at my desk to do homework.
  • I would like to ride my bike to class, if I don’t already.
  • I am often aware of the temperature the classroom.
  • When I pick up something as ordinary as my stapler, my mind drifts to memories somehow associated with a stapler.
  • I use the trial and error approach to problem-solving
  • I enjoy sports and do well at several different types of sports
  • I use my hands when describing things
  • I have to rewrite or type my class notes to reinforce the material.

  • I can remember that I need to do something if I write it down.
  • I need to visualize myself wearing something to make a decision about what I want to wear.
  • I take copious notes during class and often can remember what the page of notes looks like before I remember what the notes say.
  • I need to look at a person when they’re speaking.
  • It has to be quiet for me to be able to complete my work.
  • I am horrible at remembering jokes.
  • I can remember phone numbers if I can visualize typing them on a phone’s key pad.
  • I have trouble following lectures
  • I doodle or draw pictures on the margins of my notebook pages
  • When I take a test, I can see the textbook page of my notes in my head


If you scored the most points in the FIRST box then you are an…
AUDITORY LEARNER and learn best when information is presented orally. You benefit from listening to lectures and participating in discussions. Audiobooks, reading material aloud, and reciting material aloud help you memorize and retain information. You do well working out solutions or problems by talking them out or role-playing.

Study strategies: Record class lectures to listen to repeatedly, such as in the car while traveling. Read text and notes out loud. You may also find it helpful to join a study group or work with a partner to discuss and review material orally. Study in a quiet place. Make up a song using subject matter or key words; rhymes also work well to remember facts, dates, names, etc.

If you scored the most points in the SECOND box then you are a…
TACTILE/KINESTHETIC learner  and learn best when you are physically engaged in a hands-on activity. In the classroom, you benefit from lab settings, demonstrations, or projects where materials can be manipulated to discover and learn new information. You may take notes, but often need to draw or doodle to remember and retain information. You also learn well through field trips.

Study strategy: Incorporate physical activity into learning by moving around when studying, using fingers to name off ideas or items for review, reading aloud, listening to audio tapes of material while exercising. Sit near the front of the room and take notes throughout lectures. Jot down key words and draw pictures or make charts or diagrams to help remember information you are seeing and hearing. Take frequent breaks in study periods. Try to “beat the clock”-set up 30-minute study sessions and cover a specific amount of information in that time.

If you scored the most points in the THIRD box then you are a…
VISUAL LEARNER and learn best when information is presented visually through pictures, diagrams, charts, etc. You generally like professors who use visual aids such as charts, notes written on a board, or PowerPoint presentations. You prefer working in a quiet room and generally don’t like to work in a study group.

Study strategies: Use graphics, including but not limited to, diagrams, charts, illustrations, slides, timelines, outlines, to reinforce learning. You may also find it useful to make flashcards of vocabulary words and concepts that need to be memorized – but limit the amount of information you put on each card so you can make a mental picture of the information. Translate words and ideas into symbols and pictures. Before an exam, make visual reminders using sticky notes containing key words and concepts and place them in highly visible places-on the bathroom mirror, notebook, car dashboard, car keys, glasses case, backpack, lunch sack. It will also help to study in a clutter-free space.