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Each of us has a preferred way of learning. You may learn best visually, by listening, by reading and writing, or by doing.
This way of thinking about learning preferences is known as VARK:
• Visual images – you prefer learning material in a pictorial or graphic format
• Aural messages or the spoken word – you like to listen to lectures and discuss your work
• Reading and making notes – you learn best through reading and writing
• Kinaesthetic or active learning – you prefer to learn through practical activities
Some learners may show a strong preference for one of these ways of learning, while others use a combination of learning styles.
The VARK Modalities - VARK - a guide to learning styles website (opens in new window)
Knowing which way you prefer to learn can help you get the best out of your studies. If none of the options above stand out to you as a preference, try the VARK questionnaire below. This will give you some strategies for your studies that suit your preferred learning style(s).
VARK questionnaire - VARK a guide to learning styles website (opens in new window)
If your results show you have more than one learning preference you are a multimodal learner. This means you are flexible about how you give and receive information, which can make it easier for you to adapt to the mode of information you are presented with.
The disadvantage can be that you may like to have at least two, three or four modes involved in your learning before you are satisfied. For example, someone with an AR (aural/read write) profile would want to read about something and talk about it with others before they learn the information.
If your results for the VARK test aren't what you expected don't be too concerned. The questionnaire is not a scientific test, and not everyone accepts the validity of the research underpinning learning preferences.
Even if the test shows that you have a strong preference for one learning style, it doesn't mean you can only learn in that way. Everyone can learn in a number of different ways depending on the circumstances.
If you find one way of learning isn’t working for you, try something else - there are lots of techniques and strategies to choose from. Varying the way you learn isn't only a sensible thing to do – it also makes learning much more interesting.
Learning styles: understanding your learning preferences - MindTools website (opens in new window)
Exploring your personal learning style - Study Guides and Strategies website (opens in new window)
Kinaesthetic learners - Study Guides and Strategies website (opens in new window)
Visual/spatial learning - Study Guides and Strategies website (opens in new window)