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Study Tips for Visual Learners

August 25, 2021

Study Tips for Visual Learners

Who runs the world? Visual learners. That may be a wild oversimplification, but there is certainly a common perception that visual learning is the most popular preference among students. The jury is out on the exact percentage of people who are visual learners, but we can observe anecdotally that visual learning is dominant through much of the public education system in modern society. But what exactly is visual learning? In his academic article on the role of visual learning in improving thinking skills, educator Jamal Raiyn defines visual learning "as the assimilation of information from visual formats... such as images, flowcharts, diagrams, video, simulations, graphs, cartoons, colouring books, slide shows... posters, movies, games, and flashcards." The list goes on and on, which should give you some sense of just how diverse visual learning techniques can be. Raiyn goes on to describe how visualization helps "the learner come to understand and retain information better by associating ideas, words and concepts with images." Sound familiar? For all you visual learners out there, here is a quick breakdown of how you can ace your next proctored exam by upgrading your studying habits to match your learning style.

Get to Know Your Learning Style

You may already have the sense that you are a visual learner. Perhaps you feel more productive when you can process information through a visual medium and have access to infographics or conceptual maps. Before you can optimize your study habits and routines, it helps to identify and confirm your learning style. If you are unsure about your learning preferences based on your experiences, you can always try one of the numerous learning style quizzes available online. How else can you tell if you are a visual learner? Consider when and where you most feel comfortable in learning scenarios. Do you enjoy having a notebook with you so that you can transcribe lecture discussions and write down key information? Do you appreciate dynamic presentations with lots of visuals and text? Do you have a hard time remembering what people say but you never fail to remember the colour of their shirt or how tall they were? If you answer yes to any of those questions, you may lean toward visual learning as your preference.

Optimize Your Learning

Visual learners benefit from seeing the logical flow of information and concepts. Here are some simple but effective tips to help optimize your learning:

  • Create diagrams to visualize more complex concepts
  • Illustrate main points and focus on making connections
  • Transform your notes into graphs or charts whenever possible
  • Create a unique shorthand using annotations and symbols in your notes
  • Use a variety of colourful highlighters to make your notes colour-coded and more dynamic
  • Engage in visualization techniques
  • Incorporate images, header and infographics into your study notes

How about incorporating technology into your learning process? If possible, try to find electronic copies of your textbooks or study materials. When it comes to reviewing the text, you can use the search function to quickly snap to sections of the book where you need to focus or recall a concept. Embracing technology in this way will help you increase your efficiency. Highlighting is a terrific method for visual learners, made even easier through the annotation options in electronic books and readable pdfs. Just be sure to highlight sparingly so that you are not spending too much time reading through excessively highlighted notes down the road.

Focus on Your Strengths

Keep in mind that your visual preferences may extend to your environment too. Try to optimize your study space as much as possible. Love old libraries or historic buildings? Make it a priority to spend more time in them while you study! You should also consider your exam environment on the day. Look for exam proctoring services that offer a safe and secure testing environment, such as ATS, so you can stay focused on acing your exam.

Written by: CJ McGillivray