In past years, education has been approached with a sort of “one size fits all” mentality—information is presented to students and they, in turn, learn and are eventually tested. Now, schools have begun to diversify the way they’re teaching, offering specific classes or assignments tailored to students with a variety of learning styles.
Still, students can feel as though they’ve got one way to learn when they’re doing it on their own—but this doesn’t have to be the case! For many students, a study plan tailored to their particular learning style can be a lifesaver.
How you learn best
It should come as no surprise that you learn best when you’re focused on activities that comply with your learning style. You’ll be more engaged with the material, find it more interesting, and retain more information, whether you’re focused on the VAK model or something else. You may find that you need movement to learn (try pacing while you review notecards) or that your learning is best executed when it is done alone (avoid study groups).
By identifying the learning style that you both prefer and find effective (they’ll likely be the same one), you’ll begin to see what power guided studying has.
Learning to adapt
In a perfect world, we’d all have educational plans specifically designed for us. Unfortunately, that isn’t the way public schools operate. Instead, it is up to you to find ways to make education work best for you.
Within the context of formal school, you’ll have to pay attention to your needs, finding ways to adapt the traditional school setting to your benefit. If you’re in a lecture class but prefer visualizing information, you might consider taking notes is visual ways. Graphs, charts, and even pictures can help reinforce information in your mind. Auditory learners can listen in class and then review a recording of a lecture later (if doing so is approved by the teacher), while someone else may prefer re-reading the textbook.
Ultimately, you must find ways that make every educational experience work for you.
Making a study plan
Like all good students, you’ll want to have an effective study plan to ensure academic success. Now that you’re familiar with your learning style, you can begin to develop a system that works for you personally.
Begin by brainstorming the various ways in which you might help yourself learn in compliance with your learning style. How might you incorporate them into a study plan?
Set up a workspace that is conducive to this—do you need a whiteboard, an audio recorder, or a comfy study chair? Make it happen!
Once you’ve got the tools you need to effectively study, you can make your own adjustments to course material. Maintain a study schedule and develop a process that works for you.
What to expect
Once you know your learning style, you’re much better equipped to self-study on your own time. After you do a bit of research, you’ll be your best educational advocate, able to understand your strengths and weakness, which leads to a decrease in common study frustrations.
When you’re able to understand material, you’ll undoubtedly develop a more passionate relationship with your studies. Moreover, you’ll find your ability to retain knowledge has increased—which is great if you’re thinking about taking the ACT or SAT anytime soon!
Heather Hamilton is a contributing writer for Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform that connects students with personalized instruction to accelerate academic achievement.