VAKing. Do you know how you are VAKing?

Teachers always bang on about VAK-ing and so do we! VAK-ing is all about finding out how you learning best. Are you a visual, audial or kinaesthetic learner? There is no point in revising the way that you “think” you have to revise. Writing copious amounts of notes may not work for you. So the first thing you should do before you even start revising is to find out how you learn best. Let me explain the three learning styles:

First we have visual, this may mean that you prefer using images, diagrams, colours and maps to help you arrange facts and figures when revising. These people take in information visually. I know that I am a visual learner and will not take in any information if someone is reading something aloud to me. I need to be reading along with them or reading it myself! I need diagrams or videos to help me understand really difficult concepts. You need to think really carefully about how usually operate when learning everyday tasks as this will give you signs of how you work best.

Things  visual learners can do:

  • Use lots of different coloured pens in your revision. Use a certain colour if you have a theme or topics that are linked.
  • Highlight important words. A word of warning here: don’t highlight whole paragraphs. People often highlight everything; be selective! Just pick key words which you will spot and remember when reading back through.
  • Write plans for practice essays but use symbols and pictures to make it snappier and help you remember your points. You could use arrows to remember whether values are increasing or decreasing etc.
  • Watch videos. This is not an excuse to crack open the next season of Breaking Bad! Youtube is full of videos that will help you understand anything. Whenever you are struggling to get your head around something, why not watch a video?
  • Apparently visual learners have a great dress sense too (that’s not helpful but who doesn’t love an ego boost?)
  • Write crib sheets. These are sheets with key words, facts, figures or quotes on them that you consider crucial to your exams. Stick them up in your room, on the fridge. I’ve even known people to laminate them and stick them in the shower (yes, really!). Stick them anywhere where you will see them in your everyday routines.

Then we come to audial, this is when you prefer to learn by hearing or listening. I am definitely NOT one of these learners. But I know people who have revised for their degrees in Physics by listening to a recording of them reading their notes! Audial learners have an ability to process information by simply listening to it.

Methods that audial learners use:

  • Record your notes and listen back to them.
  • Make a ditty or a song with whatever it is you are trying to learn. Remember Mrs D, Mrs I, Mrs F, F, I…..Mrs….. you know it! That is still how I spell difficulty in my head today, even thought I know perfectly well how to spell it – it works.
  • Try a Rhyme…My Very Easy Method Just Speeds Up Naming Planets, for the order of the planets. That was back in my schooldays when old Pluto hadn’t been demoted, poor soul!
  • Some people sing their notes and make it into a tune to help them remember it. “The head bone’s connected to the….”


Finally, we have kinaesthetic learners. They are called “tactile” learners, the learners that like to get hands-on. We often learn this way in school but we don’t often think to revise in this way. This is the principle of learning by doing. Now, you can’t learn about splitting atoms by going to CERN and doing the experiment yourself! But you can get hands on with how you learn about them.

Let me explain:

  • Writing is doing. The process of writing notes in your own words is doing something. This is how I did my revision. It worked for me as I know I can think things through better when I write them down. The act of writing notes in my own words helps me to process the information. Don’t cheat yourself and COPY notes from textbooks. You are not learning anything here and you begin to go into autopilot mode and not really register what you are writing. What a waste of time that would be, eh?
  • Teach the wall! (Yes, I know call the men in white coats now) Again, I used to do this and it WORKS. Sometimes the best way to learn something is if you teach somebody else. If you brother or sister won’t sit and pretend to be your pupil and the dog walks off too after 5 minutes – then there is always the wall! Stand up, walk around, use hand gestures to help you talk about what you have just learned. If you can’t do this confidently – you haven’t learnt, it. Try it with the notes and then try again without!
  • Create mind maps – these are visual but they take a long time to make. Whilst you are making them you are making links across the mind map but also making connections in your learning. I always tell my student to mind map out an essay plan rather than write out every single practice essay when you are short on time. This is a great way to revise a lot quickly.
  • Mind vomit – get a blank page or a blank word document and allow yourself to have a brain splurge of everything you have just learnt. Read it, check it, if there is information missing then make a note of what was missing and then go again. Writing practice essays out on a laptop is a quicker way of revising your content quickly and without the hand cramps!


Finding out how you learn best is part of learning to learn. There is no point learning how you think you should learn. Some of the methods I have outlined above may hit home with you. If you are still unsure, why not try out some handy quizzes online?


Here are a few suggestions:


Happy VAK-ing!

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