One of the fascinating facts about human nature is that we all learn differently. Some of us may find that we can listen to a speech and remember every detail. Others of us may hear the same speech, but only remember what we saw on the handout sheets or slides. Yet another group of us may listen to the speech, read the materials, but remember the details about an incident that directly relates to our own past experience. These variations may not seem critical in normal activities, but the importance of understanding learning methods becomes evident during test preparation and study sessions for an exam.
There is not a right way to learn or a wrong way, just different methods that work in a unique way for each person. The key to better learning is to evaluate each process and consider which technique will improve individual study habits.
A person that learns best through auditory methods demonstrates superior speech skills, listens closely and enjoys interactions with others. They learn test materials best by listening to audio and video presentations. Test tips for auditory learners include recording notes, repeating questions out loud and communicating with others about the materials.
Visual learners need to have a clearly defined picture in their mind to understand the material. They prefer charts and graphs and study well through independent reading. Test tips for visual learners include taking written notes, watching videos of the subject and creating lists and explicit diagrams that provide a memory aid.
Someone who excels in experiential learning prefers a hands-on approach and responds well to material that makes a personal connection. They enjoy laboratory experiments, active learning with others and creating realistic models. Test tips for an experiential learner include developing quick memory tools such as flash or note cards, models and notes, that bring the material to a personal level.
Which Type are You?
Being able to identify the most effective learning method will be an aid during online test preparation. A good way to determine your learning strength is to review the characteristics of each type, see which one is the best fit and focus on that method for an upcoming exam. We all learn at some degree from each method, but normally one type dominates our ability to easily retain material.
Try an experiment by first listening to an oral presentation of a specific section of a practice test. See how much you can remember of the material. Then try it again watching a video that clearly describes the subject and retake the practice exam. Third, think of ways to personalize the material and create a model that relates to the subject. Take the exam again and compare which method was most effective in helping you through the learning process. Be sure to allow time between each session to fully evaluate the method. Being able to analyze each learning style and apply the method will benefit both study habits and test results.