By Katie Azevedo, M.Ed.
In this post – and in the video above – I share 5 study tips for auditory learners. These study techniques make sense for how the auditory brain works. If you know you’re an auditory learner, these study tips are for you. If you don’t yet know your learning style, first read through the characteristics of auditory learners (below), and then see if they describe you. If they do, then you’re likely an auditory learner.
You likely already know this, but we all learn differently. These are called learning styles, and there are three main ones: Auditory, visual and kinesthetic. Some people also argue that there’s a fourth style — the read-write learners.
Some of us fall perfectly into one category, while others are a combination of two or more learner-types.
If you are looking for more information about all the learning styles, read my complete guide to learning styles.
It’s critical that you take the time to figure out what type of learner you are, and then use study techniques that work for that learning style. Going through the small effort of identifying your learning style can literally change everything about how you do school. Once you do this, you can stop using all those study methods, note-taking methods and reading strategies that don’t work for you — even though they work for someone else. Mind blowing, right?
Characteristics of Auditory Learners
Auditory learners — those who prefer to hear information — have some key identifying characteristics that make them unique from visual or kinesthetic learners.
Auditory learners tend to:
- Be good listeners
- Like lecture classes
- Benefit from oral explanations and directions
- Benefit from active class discussions and participating in them too
- Be easily distracted by noise
- Sometimes talk to themselves
- Be easily distracted by too many colors, graphics and visuals
- Be able to see the “big idea” before the details make sense
Sound like you? Then on to the tips!
Study Tips for Auditory Learners
1. Study in small groups. Because auditory learners benefit from hearing information and talking about it, group study sessions of 3-4 people can make a huge difference in how you process information. Even studying with just one other person can be helpful.
Of course, I always advise that you study by yourself first, so that you get a clear picture of what you do and don’t understand – and then you can take your questions to the group.
2. Teach someone else the material. This study tip works for all learning styles, but it works like magic for auditory learners. This is different from studying in a group. When you’re studying in a group, the other people are generally familiar with the material. But for this study strategy, it’s best to find someone who isn’t familiar with the information, like a younger sibling, a friend who’s not in taking that class, or your mom.
3. Watch videos about what you’re learning in class. There is so much information out there — in video format — that can help reinforce what you’re learning in class.
Videos work so well for a few reasons:
- First, your brain likes to hear information, and of course the videos have audio along with them.
- Second, you get a chance to hear the information presented a little differently from how your teacher taught it or from how your textbook explains it. Remember, the more ways we can come at the material — or the more perspectives or versions we have of it — the better we understand it and the longer we remember it.
So you’re taking an anatomy course? Watch videos about that. Reading The Odyssey? Watch an animated video of chapter summaries after each chapter you read. Learning about the Civil War? Watch a short documentary about it. Whatever you’re learning, there is a video for it.
4. Talk to yourself. When you’re reading, speak the words aloud under your breath. If you’re reading alone, belt it out. You need to hear the information to get it … so speak loudly enough to hear your own voice. Also, if you’re studying from your notes, review them audibly. If you’re reading a book, pause for a second after every chapter and verbally come up with a summary. (More on that strategy here.) If you’re writing a paper, verbalize the words as you type them. You get the idea.
5. Stick to lecture classes if possible. How much control you have over your schedule varies depending on where you are in school. If you’re in middle or high school, you sort of get what you get. College and beyond? You have some wiggle room. So if you can, shoot for classes that are in lecture format, or at the very least, ask around to find out what teachers are into lecturing, and request those teachers. If you’re an auditory learner, you’re again going to have a much easier time understanding what is spoken to you … so you want to seek out environments that present information verbally — just how your brain likes it.
Although the 5 study strategies I list here might work for other types of learners too, they are most certainly the best study tips for auditory learners. Try one. Try five. You literally have nothing to lose.