How to get the most out of your VARK® results

The power of VARK is that people understand it intuitively and it fits practice. In VARK workshops participants say, “Yes! That’s me.” But it is important to understand what your VARK results mean (and don’t mean!). And it is equally as important to know how to use them to improve your learning.

Your VARK results are a catalyst for thinking about how you learn best

The VARK results are a ‘rule of thumb’ – you should not apply them rigidly. The questionnaire is not intended to ‘box’ you into a mindset that you have been ‘diagnosed’. Rather, it is designed to initiate discussion about, and reflection upon, your learning style – metacognition.

Explore your own views about whether the preference is accurate and helpful. For example, if you have an Aural preference, ask yourself:

  • How important is discussion in your life?
  • Are listening, speaking, and asking questions important ways for you to learn?
  • Do you consider yourself an Aural person?
  • Are there aspects of your life where your Aural preference is obvious?
  • When is your Aural preference less important?
  • Are there aspects of your life where your Aural preference is important?

Using the Helpsheets

You should take advantage of your VARK preferences and use the learning strategies listed in the VARK Helpsheets.

If you have a multimodal set of VARK preferences, you may need to process information in more than one mode to get a thorough and satisfying understanding. If this is the case, you should try new study strategies listed under your multiple preferences in the Helpsheets.

Our experience is that many people become much more successful if they develop a range of learning strategies based on their preferences. Using strategies outside your preferences is not helpful (e.g. using mind maps may not help if you are strongly Kinesthetic. )

It’s what you do that matters!

Discovering your VARK learning preference is only likely to improve your learning if you implement this information. But keep in mind that not all study strategies are equally effective.

To make the most of the strategies for your VARK learning preference, focus on ACTIVE strategies that require you to engage with the learning material; don’t rely on passively absorbing information, even if that information is presented using your preferred modalities.

If you have a Visual preference, don’t just look at diagrams and charts – create your own.
If you have an Aural preference, don’t just listen to the information – explain it yourself, and discuss it with others.
For a Read/write preference, don’t just read – write summaries and explanations in your own words.
And if you have a Kinesthetic preference, don’t just watch a demonstration – try it yourself, and practice, practice, practice.

You can use your VARK learning preference to engage with and learn new information, no matter which modality it is presented in, by “translating” it into your preferred modalities.

For more information see our article: Using VARK with an ACTIVE LEARNING focus.

Zero scores!

Pay particular attention to zero scores on any mode and even more attention to them if the total number of responses is high. Zero scores in a profile are unusual and the person will often have an interesting story to tell.  Zero does not mean they cannot use the strategies associated with that mode, only that it is not their preferred method of study.

THESE CAUTIONS ARE IMPORTANT!

  • Preferences are not the same as strengths. Your VARK results indicate preferences, not strengths. Having a low score for Read/write does not mean you cannot read!
  • Focus on your preferences. We do not recommend trying to “improve” your use of your lowest-scoring modalities – going against your preferences is not likely to be motivating.
  • VARK is about learning, not leisure. Some people with a zero score in their VARK profile for Visual, enjoy relaxing by drawing or painting or visiting art galleries!
  • Did you complete the questionnaire correctly? If you have completed the questionnaire with empathy you will have indicated the preferences of others – not your learning preferences. Go back and do it for yourself.
  • VARK is about learning. Your VARK scores indicate how you prefer to learn; the four scores may not indicate how you teach, train, or work with others!
  • Preferences may be masked by life and work experiences. Work and life experiences may blur the boundaries as people learn new ways to use Aural, Visual, Read/write, and Kinesthetic modes equally well.
  • Understand each modality. The Visual and Kinesthetic modalities, in particular, are often confused. Be sure to read the summary about each modality so that you understand what your VARK preference means. Videos and photos are “Kinesthetic”, not “Visual”, and “Kinesthetic” strategies involve more than just doing things.