Smart Study Strategies for Different Intelligence Types

Young woman studying on bed with laptop computer and books
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People are smart in different ways. Some people can create a catchy song on command. Others can memorize every word of a book, paint a masterpiece or understand complex human emotions innately. When you realize where your strengths lie, you can figure out the best way to study.

Based on Howard Gardners theory of intelligence, which challenged the long-held beliefs that students were empty vessels waiting for teachers to “deposit” knowledge into. Their level of intelligence was measured by the ability to regurgitate the deposited material on exam day. Thanks to Gardner, we now know that people learn in very different ways and hence should study in a way that best suits their individual learning type.

These study tips can help you tailor your learning for your intelligence type.

Word Smart

Also known as linguistic intelligence, word-smart people are good with words, letters and phrases. They enjoy activities such as reading, playing scrabble or other word games, and having deep discussions. If youre word smart, these study strategies can help you focus your strengths.

  1. • Make detailed flashcards and practice with them regularly.
  2. Take extensive notes. Word-smart people often visualize the word in their minds, and writing it out helps bolster that mental image.
  3. • Keep a journal of what you learn. Journaling is a scientifically proven way to reflect on complex issues. If you journal before going to sleep, your subconscious brain will use the downtime to work through the problem without daily distractions impeding the process.

Number Smart

Number-smart people, or those with logical-mathematical intelligence, are good with numbers, equations and logic. They enjoy coming up with solutions to logical problems and figuring things out. If youre number smart, give these study strategies a try.

  1. •Make your notes into numeric charts and graphs, which makes it easier for your brain to logically organize the information.
  2. •Use the roman numeral style of outlining to highlight key concepts while using sub-categories for supplementary information.
  3. •Put information you receive into personalized categories and classifications for better memory retention and recall.

Picture Smart

Picture-smart or spatially intelligent people are good with art and design. They enjoy being creative, watching movies and visiting art museums. Picture smart people can benefit from these study tips:

  1. Sketch pictures that represent or expand on your notes or in the margins of your textbooks.
  2. •Draw a picture on a flashcard for each concept or vocabulary word you study.
  3. Use charts and graphic organizers to keep track of what you learn.

Body Smart

Also known as kinesthetic intelligence, body smart people work well with their hands. They enjoy physical activities such as exercise, sports and outdoor work. These study strategies can help body smart people be successful.

  1. Act out or imagine the concepts you need to remember. Imagine that you’re concept is the topic of a charades game.
  2. Look for real-life examples that demonstrate what youre learning, such as celebrity representations of historical figures.
  3. •Search for manipulatives, such as computer programs, that can help you master the material. You learn by doing, so the more practice, the better.

Music Smart

Music-smart people are good with rhythms and beats. They enjoy listening to new music, attending concerts and composing songs. If you're music smart, these activities can help you study:

  1. •Create a song or rhyme that will help you remember a concept. Your subconscious brain will often make associations, and a song is a vibrant memory to help you recall important facts.
  2. •Listen to classical music while you study. The soothing, rhythmic melodies will help you “get in the zone.”
  3. •Remember vocabulary words by linking them to similar-sounding words in your mind. Word association is a highly effective way to recall complex vocabulary.

People Smart

Interpersonal intelligence — those who are people smart are good with relating to people. They enjoy going to parties, visiting with friends and sharing what they learn. People-smart students should give these strategies a try.

  1. Discuss what you learn with a friend or family member. Often the act of sharing information can help clarify the concept and make it easier to recall during an exam.
  2. •Have someone quiz you before an exam. People-smart students thrive in peer-pressure situations.
  3. •Create or join a study group. With various learning types at one table, new and better ways to remember tricky concepts can emerge, benefitting the entire group.

Self Smart

Self-smart people, those with intrapersonal intelligence, are comfortable with themselves. They enjoy being alone to think and reflect. If you're self smart, try these tips:

  1. • Keep a personal journal about what you're learning. The chance to reflect and recharge will give you the necessary energy to sort through any concepts that you’re struggling with.
  2. •Self-smart people can often be drained by large groups. Find a place to study where you won't be interrupted.
  3. When working in group projects, keep yourself involved by individualizing each aspect of the project and creating small milestones to celebrate.