Knowing your individual learning style is really important, as we all process information differently; your learning style is often consistent throughout your life, and once you know how you learn best you can adapt your revision techniques accordingly. For example, though I often forget to fully utilise my learning style in a way that most benefits me, I know that I am a visual learner, specifically I find it easiest to learn when I associate information with images and colours.
Of course, not everyone learns in the same way. There are several different types of learning styles, which can be broken down into four main categories: Visual learners, like myself, who prefer using images, colours, graphs, and other visual media; Auditory learners prefer to learn through sound and music (those rare and lucky people who are able to fully pay attention in lectures); Verbal/linguistic learners retain information best through both speech and writing; and Physical (kinaesthetic) learners, who learn best with a hands on approach, and being able to physically interact with stimuli to gather information. If you don’t already know what type of learner you are, there are several different quizzes you can take online to find out (one of which you can access here).
Once you know your learning style, you can then adapt how you revise. So here are my suggestions of what might work for you, depending on what type of learner you are:
I have often found, when faced with large amounts of text to remember, that a good first step is to go through the information and highlight the most important information (such as the key facts and terms). Once the information has been reduced, I often separate it into small chunks of text and create flash cards. I then find or create an image to go alongside each flash card, so that when the image comes to mind, I will recall the associated information. Other useful learning methods include mind maps, story boards, watching video tutorials- the more creative the better, as it will make the information more memorable. For example, those who studied psychology at A-Level may be familiar with Duck and Rollie’s Relationship Breakdown Model- the only reason that this particular theory stuck with me is because of a story board I created to remember the different stages of the model, with Duck and Rollie as animal characters.
Auditory and Verbal Learners
Oh how I envy you guys! You have the great fortune of actually being able to remember text and speech, and you have a completely legitimate reason to talk to yourself-it will actually help you learn! Of course, while you process language effectively, that doesn’t mean that you can just learn page after page of text off by heart with no effort at all; using methods such as using rhymes and adding rhythm to spoken words will aid you in remembering. Listening to recordings of your own voice speaking the information will also help, especially as you can put emphasis on key words by altering your pitch and pace. For linguists who prefer the written word, writing and rewriting notes in your own hand will help, and the use of mnemonics may also be useful for remembering lists of information. It is still important to break down the information into smaller chunks (bullet points will help) and a little colour never hurt anyone!
If you are a kinaesthetic learner, you may feel like you’ve gotten a raw deal in terms of learning information, because it is not as easy to physically represent facts and figures in a tangible way; but I promise you, it is not impossible, you might just have to do a little out of the box thinking. As a kinaesthetic learner, you may actually find that working with others will make learning information easier, because discussion is an active form of auditory learning! Flashcards on their own may not seem like a physical method of learning, but you can be creative and turn matching up information on different cards into a game, which will make it a lot easier to remember for you (though possibly a little more time consuming). While visual learners can find doodling useful because of the association between the picture and the information, as a physical learner you may find that actively doodling while studying actually helps you to concentrate- so don’t feel bad if your notes are covered in pictures! And most importantly, we all need to take breaks while studying, but this is more important for kinaesthetic learners than anyone else, so make sure you break down your studying into small and more manageable chunks!
I hope you all find your own personal learning style, and that it helps you make the hard task of revising that little bit less difficult! Good luck with exams everyone!