Auditory vs. Visual vs. Kinesthetic Learning – Which is Right for You?


To be successful as a medical student, you must study as effectively as possible whenever you are given the opportunity. It is helpful to understand the three main learning types – auditory, visual, and kinesthetic. Each one denotes a specific type of information delivery that resonates with students most clearly. Below, you can learn more about them, what they entail, and how to tell which one will help you get the most out of your study time.

Auditory Learning

An auditory learner is someone who comprehends, processes, and remembers data more readily when it is delivered via sound. In other words, these students must hear new information. You may be an auditory learner if you consider yourself an excellent storyteller, if you like working in groups, or if you seem to retain information better following a classroom lecture than after reading a chapter. If this sounds familiar, your best options for learning include:

  • Participating in classroom discussions;
  • Studying with a group of people;
  • Using flash cards with a partner who reads the questions out loud;
  • Reading chapters of a textbook out loud; and
  • Recording class lectures and listening to them.

Visual Learning

A visual learner is someone who tends to fare better with new information when they can see it. Simply hearing the information being delivered to them by a professor or recording is not enough; they must be able to read the information for themselves or even see it in a video in order to truly process and understand it. If you follow directions on instinct, stay organized without much effort, and have an inherent sense of alignment and balance in your life, you are likely a visual learner. Some of your best options for information delivery include:

  • Studying written words in a book, on slides, on whiteboards, in presentations, or even from your own notes;
  • Studying software-based content, such as that provided by online question banks;
  • Utilizing diagrams and handouts to make connections between different pieces of information;
  • Following study guides; and
  • Studying alone rather than with a group to prevent distractions.

Kinesthetic Learning

Kinesthetic learners are the epitome of “hands-on” learning. They don’t learn best by seeing or hearing; instead, they learn best by actually doing. You might be a kinesthetic learner if you naturally have great hand-eye coordination, if you are energetic, if you tend to pick up on new concepts quickly, and if you tend to participate in things like art and sports instead of just watching. Some of the best techniques you can use to learn include:

  • Studying while on a treadmill or stationary bicycle;
  • Sketching during lectures;
  • Role-playing situations related to the information you are covering; or
  • Studying while also playing a sport.

Auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learners are people who learn best in different situations and with different forms of information delivery. Most people are not purely auditory or purely kinesthetic learners, though, and that is why teachers and professors are always incorporating new teaching methods designed to touch upon each of these learning methods.