When you think about academic success, you might simply assume that some people are smarter or better at learning. On the surface that would seem to explain why some students consistently earn high grades while others struggle.
But in reality, there’s a lot more to learning than simply being good at it or not. What if those successful students have identified what works for them, and are taking advantage of this knowledge about themselves? In this way, you can essentially “hack” the system: Figure out how you learn best, and then set yourself up for success by using the study methods that are most likely to work well for you.
Traditionally, we have recognized four primary learning styles, based on the work of New Zealand teacher Neil Fleming in the 1980s. He proposed that these learning styles include auditory, visual, reading/writing, and kinesthetic learners.
Other researchers have proposed anywhere from 3 to 170 different learning styles! But Fleming’s model is still widely accepted as the basis for how we view learning. In recent years, education professionals have expanded their views to include eight learning styles:
- Auditory learners
- Visual learners
- Physical/Tactile learners
- Verbal learners
- Logical learners
- Social learners
- Solo learners
- Nature/Natural learners
Whichever model you prefer, the takeaway point is that we all learn differently (and confront different challenges). Your friend might remember everything she hears during a lecture, whereas you might need to view charts and graphs in order to grasp the information. Still other friends might learn collaboratively, or by engaging in hands-on experiences.
Unfortunately, every class will not be organized to best suit your learning style. This is why you must deduce how you learn, and then begin to create your own adaptations. If you’re just not an auditory learner, you need to take detailed notes during lectures, download visual aids, create flash cards, or start a study group (just to list a few alternatives). You can access more helpful suggestions here.
The great thing about high school is that you can view it as training ground for college and beyond. Start to examine and decode your own learning style now, and experiment to determine how you learn best. Hack the system and make it work for you, and you can establish a comfortable learning routine before you ever set foot in a college classroom.