Learning Ideas for Students with a Visual Learning Style

Visual learners want to see how something is done before they try it for themselves. They learn by watching. They want you to show them how to do something before doing it themselves.

If your learning style is visual, the ideas in this list will help you make the most of the time you have for learning and studying.

TV - Paul Bradbury - OJO Images - Getty Images 137087627

Videos are one of a visual learners best friends! You can learn almost anything from the videos found all over the Internet today. Great options include Kahn Academy, YouTube's Education Channel, and MIT Open CoursewareMore »

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Ask for a Demonstration

Knitting - Fabrice LEROUGE - ONOKY - GettyImages-155298253
Fabrice LEROUGE - ONOKY - GettyImages-155298253

Visual learners need to see how something is done. Whenever possible or practical, ask for a demonstration. Once you see something in action, it's easier for visual learners to understand it and to recall it later during an exam or while writing a paper.

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Make Graphs and Charts

TommL - E Plus - Getty Images 172271806

When you're learning information that can be organized in a graph or a chart, make one. It doesn't have to be fancy. Scribble one in the margins of your notebook. If you're the digital type, learn Excel and become proficient at creating spreadsheets. Seeing information in this structured form will help you remember it.

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Create Outlines

Outlines are another great organization tool for the visual learner and allow you to structure your information using headings, subheadings, and bullet points. Create outlines in your notebook as you read, or choose highlighters in different colors and create colored outlines right in your materials.

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Write Practice Tests

Photodisc - Getty Images rbmb_02

Writing practice tests as you read is a wonderful tool for visual learners. You'll find information on how to go about it in The Adult Student's Guide to Survival & Success by Al Siebert and Mary Karr, and in Learning to Learn by Marcia Heiman and Joshua Slomianko. Here's another resource on practice tests: Why You Should Write Practice Tests While You Study.

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Use a Really Great Organizer Date Book

Brigitte Sporrer - Cultura - Getty Images 155291948

One of the very best tools for any student is a date book that helps you organize everything you need to remember. Several companies offer this kind of tool. Franklin Covey is one: Organize your life with FranklinCovey!

A mind map is a visual representation of your thoughts and can help you make connections that you might miss when studying in a more linear fashion.  More »

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Incorporate White Space in Your Notes

White space is important to visual learners. When we cram too much information into one space, it's really difficult to read it. Think of white space as an organizational tool like any other and use it to separate information, making it easier for you to see differences and remember them.

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Draw Pictures as You Read

It may sound counterintuitive, but drawing pictures in the margins of your material can help visual learners remember what they read. The pictures should be of whatever it is you associate with the learning.

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Use Symbols

Symbols are powerful. Use them to help you remember information. Marking your notes and your materials with question marks or exclamation marks will help you visualize where that information came from when it comes time to retrieve it from your memory.

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Envision Using the New Information

Some people are better than others at applying what they've learned. Visual learners can increase their application skills by seeing themselves using the information or envisioning whatever it is being learned. Become a movie director in your own mind.

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Use Flash Cards

Flash cards are a nice way for visual learners to remember words and other short pieces of information, especially if you decorate them with meaningful drawings. Making your own flash cards and studying with them will be an excellent way for you to learn.
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Diagram Sentences

Once you learn to diagram a sentence, you will forever understand what makes sentences grammatically correct. I can't overemphasize what a gift this will be to you down the road. Grace Fleming, About.com's Guide to Homework/Study Tips, has a wonderful article on How to Diagram a Sentence.

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Create a Presentation

Making PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentations can be a whole lot of fun for visual learners. Almost all office software packages come with PowerPoint. Google Slides is similar and free with a Gmail account. If you haven't learned how to use it, just start playing around with it and use online videos when you get stuck.

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Avoid Distractions

If you know you're easily distracted by movement, choose a seat in the classroom or a place to study where you can't see what's going on outside a window or in another room. Minimizing visual distractions will help you focus on the task at hand.

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Take Detailed Notes

It can be difficult for visual learners to remember verbal instructions. Write down everything you want to be sure to remember. Ask for information to be repeated if necessary.
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Ask for Handouts

When you attend a lecture, or a class of any kind, ask if there are handouts you can review during the lecture or class. Handouts will help you know what additional notes you need to take. We can get so busy taking notes that we stop listening to new information.