I have been rabidly obsessed with MBTI for about two years now. I’ve read way too many articles, researched for way too many hours, and generally become way too interested in psychology (especially for someone who is mentally insane!).
What is MBTI? It stands for Myer-Briggs Type Indicator, and it was engineered by renowned psychologist Karl Jung to type people into sixteen different personality types.
Now, I’m not saying this method is the best measure of personality. It certainly has its faults: namely the fact that people with drastically different percentages can be typed under the same label.
Still, it can be extremely useful—in the workplace, in interpersonal conflict, and—get this—in your learning and study styles!
Yeah, okay. I know those aren’t normally the most exciting things, but this is actually pretty neat. I remember trying to research MBTI and study styles the other day and finding very few results. There are tons of employers who use MBTI to facilitate workplace productivity…why can’t students use it to facilitate their own productivity?
The first step of this journey is to find out your MBTI type. There are tons of sites which offer pretty reliable results, so I recommend taking the test on a few of them and ensuring you receive the same result. If you don’t, read the personality descriptions. Which one fits you best?
(Personally, I’m an ENFJ, which makes me happy because Dr. Phil is also an ENFJ, and he is my spirit animal.)
Alright, once you find out your personality type, take a look at the different learning and study methods you can use to maximize your productivity. Please keep in mind that these won’t apply to everyone. These are suggestions, not rock-solid guidelines. This personality test can help us label different learning styles, but everyone is different—and it’s hard to categorize the whole human race into 16 personalities!
Hopefully, though, learning a little more about your personality can help you learn a little something about your learning style, and ultimately, make your study sessions as efficient as possible.
Ah, fellow extroverts! If you’re an extrovert, you gain energy from interaction with other people. You focus a lot on other people and enjoy socializing, participating, talking, doing. Because of this, many extroverts will become less productive in an environment without other people, filled with tedious jobs and little action. They have a more social learning style. To maximize your productivity while studying, try some of these tips!
- Think out loud!
○ Thinking out loud: whether this means analyzing a passage, reading about the French and Indian War, or working your way through a math problem can do wonders for your productivity. Generally, it’s easier for extroverts to form thoughts and visualize concepts if they’re speaking it. In a way, this makes a lot of extroverts kinesthetic learners!
○ This ties in with thinking out loud, but actively discussing a topic with someone else is great for extroverted thinkers. Before the night of a test, for example, try skyping a friend and discuss the topics that will be covered. Having actual conversations about the topic will make you more engaged in it. If you’re more engaged, you’ll retain the information better!
- Teach others
○ This works for me all the time. Teaching others is a fabulous way for extroverts to retain information. It involves interpersonal interaction, yet it forces them to actively recall concepts. If you know a concept well enough to teach it to someone else, you should be able to recall it on test day.
- Study in groups
○ This goes without saying. Studying in groups is very ideal for extroverts. So, grab a few friends and make sure to stay productive! There are tons of great group study methods and ways to prepare in order to make your study session productive. Click here to find out how.
- Study in a public place
○ This sounds a bit strange, but it could be very effective for extroverts. Find a café, a park, a public library, or somewhere else with lots of people. Make sure the space isn’t too noisy or distracting, and study there! Lots of extroverts gain energy from being around other people—even if they aren’t talking to them. The soft cacophony of other voices in the background can be enough.
Social interaction drains introverts, while deep reflection, contemplation, and thought energize them. They don’t talk for no reason, normally: they prefer to think before they speak, to understand the world. Usually, class discussions are a bit more uncomfortable for them.
Because of this, introverts learn better through quiet, meaningful reflection.
- Independent study
○ Social interaction and studying may not be the best mix for introverts. Group study sessions might be tiring and counter-productive.
- If you do study with others…
○ That is not to say that they should be ruled out altogether! There are many benefits to group study sessions, but introverts should take care to choose their study sessions wisely! If you pick a group of very outgoing friends, you’ll likely get drained very quickly.
- Make mind maps!
○ Introverts tend to enjoy connecting subject matter, seeing knowledge in chunks rather than as individual pieces of information. Mind maps are perfect ways to connect your thoughts and really see the relationship between different kinds of material.
- Study in quiet spaces
○ Finding the right environment to study in is crucial to all students. For introverts, a quiet, tranquil environment is usually ideal. Tell your family members (especially younger siblings!) not to bother you for certain periods in the day. If your home is always noisy, study in the library or somewhere like it.
Sensing types are very tuned into the outside world and rely deeply on their senses to absorb knowledge. They are usually more observant and grounded into the here and now. They are more practical and focus on details over the big picture.
- Make diagrams and outlines
○ Sensing types usually enjoy information organized into a simple, easy-to-understand structure. If you’re a sensing type, you’ll likely benefit greatly from visual diagrams, outlines, and charts.
- Hands-on activities
○ This will be extremely useful for sensing types! Making little dances or games to help you remember facts or understand concepts are perfect ways to really retain information. Better yet, if you’re an extroverted-sensing type, you can try these activities with other people and gain even more out of it.
○ Ah, the stereotypical study tool. If you’re a sensing type, you probably use flashcards all the time. They’re easy-to-understand and great for memory tasks. Here is an awesome post about memorizing flashcards effectively.
- Don’t forget the big picture
○ Lots of sensing types get so caught up in the details that they forget the big picture. Make sure to take a step back once in a while and think: what is this all getting at? Ask yourselves big picture questions frequently—especially if you’re studying a large concept with many minor components. Write these big picture questions on little post-it notes and post them in strategic places in your notebook, so you don’t forget!
- Cornell note-taking
○ This is great for sensing types who need help seeing the big picture. Cornell notes consist of two columns. On the left side you take notes during a lecture. Afterwards, write questions based off your notes in the right column. You can study for exams by covering the left column and trying to answer the questions posed by the right column. This is a great way to escape the nitty-gritty details and ask yourself big-picture questions.
If you’re an intuitive type, you’ll want to know the “why” of things. They seek patterns, relationships, and you see the big picture in things, sometimes ignoring details in the process. They are innovative and enjoy the theoretical more than the literal.
- Use energy wisely
○ Intuitive types often have problems working steadily through a project. In order to use your energy productively, try setting up “study blocks.” Study in 45-minute blocks, separated by 15 minutes of recovery. They are creative, innovative and work with bursts of energy.
- Use that imagination!
○ Intuitive types are bursting with creativity. Why not put it to use? There are tons of interesting ways to memorize concepts which involve using your creativity to help you recall information. You can make a story, for example, to link key terms or names. You can make up jingles or funny mnemonics!
- Question-Evidence-Conclusion notetaking
○ This is an interesting note-taking technique pioneered by best-selling author, Cal Newport. It’s also great for intuitive types because they’re usually heavily invested in questions. Basically, you take your notes in a three-column format. Write down big-picture questions during a lecture, then write down the conclusion (the answer to the question). The evidence are the arguments that your teacher used to bridge the question and the conclusion. This is great for intuitive types, who are always thinking in the big picture. The “evidence” section will help them see the details that are normally dismissed.
- Look for the connections
○ Intuitive types easily get bored by nitty-gritty details and formula’s. In order to prevent boredom and study more effectively, try linking concepts. Look for connections between your material. Look for interesting theories and interpretations which take the material a step further.
Thinking types prefer logic over thinking with their gut. They are normally more logical and value truth over tact, the head over the heart; so, it’s hard to come up with study and learning tips for thinkers, as studying and learning is mainly a thinking endeavor. Therefore, we’re skipping this section.
Feelers are people who prefer thinking with their heart. They don’t always think before they act, and they strive to create a harmonious, peaceful environment for those around them.
- Relate to the material
○ Completely objective, logical activities can become very boring to feelers. They’re more interested in forming relationships and finding personal connections. A great trick to studying, then, is to try to relate to the material. This only works in certain subjects of course—it’s more relevant in a history or English class than a math class. Find something you can relate to in what you’re learning—a personal experience or memory—and it’ll appear a lot more accessible and interesting.
- Study in a positive environment
○ This is so important! Surround yourself with positivity. Don’t study with people who you don’t have the best experiences with, and don’t hang around people who are negative. While this probably wouldn’t affect thinkers as much, this would definitely impact you. Don’t surround yourself with drama, either. Chances are, if there’s a test tomorrow, but your friend is complaining to you on the phone, you’ll choose comforting her over studying. Which isn’t exactly a bad thing, but your grade will certainly suffer! When you’re studying, either study somewhere that is positive and productive, or study alone, away from emotional distractions.
Judging types like to stay organized. They like to plan and have everything structured in an easily comprehensible, highly efficient manner. They like closure and decisions. They’ll be the people who always make deadlines.
- Keep a structured study environment
○ Judging types study best in a structured environment. Establish a set study routine, a set place to study, and stick to it. Keep calendars, sticky notes, all that beautiful jazz. If your desk is clean, and your calendar is organized, your Type A mind will likely be a lot happier.
- Stay open-minded
○ Judging types are often less content with change. They enjoy a routine. And while this isn’t always bad, it’s also important to keep an open mind! When you’re studying, don’t be afraid to try something new once in a while. Try a different note-taking strategy or a new way to annotate. While you may feel comfortable in your routine, you never know what effective study techniques you’ve yet to try!
- Try second-look reading
○ If you’re a judging type, you’ll probably be done with that essay way before its deadline. Good for you! But don’t forget to polish your argument. It’s sometimes harder for judging types to see their arguments in a different way, which can lead to weaker essays. Try the second-look reading method, where you argue with yourself and play Devil’s advocate, writing down points which question your argument. This is a great way to find holes in your argument.
- Highly-structured note-taking
○ You’re probably already taking notes in a very structured way if you’re a judging type, but there are always new, possibly better methods to learn. For example, try using the Split Page method! In this method, you write notes on the left side of the page, and after class, write commentary on the right side. Basically, commentary consists of restating ideas in your own words, finding key points, and discovering holes in your knowledge.
Perceivers are more spontaneous, throwing off structure for a more go-with-the-flow mentality. They often have more trouble in school, as they dislike the tedium and structure of rote memorization and other academic routines. There are lots of ways to help perceivers study more effectively, however!
- Divide your time
○ Perceivers often see deadlines and time as flexible…which may not work in their favor! If you’re a perceiver, try dividing up your time into mini-deadlines. This way, you don’t end up wasting it all!
- Don’t procrastinate
○ This ties in with the first tip. Don’t leave things to the last minute! Perceivers looking to study more effectively should download anti-procrastination apps and buy a calendar. Make this calendar your friend! Here is an article with some nice anti-procrastination tips.
- Finish those tasks
○ Lots of perceivers have problems with finishing tasks. They start a lot, but don’t have the motivation to carry through with them. A great way to combat this is the “Don’t Break the Chain” method. Basically, each day that you work on something—a project, for example—draw a big “X” on your calendar. Do the same the next day. Soon, you’ll find it harder to give up because you won’t want to break that chain of consistency.
- Switch up your routine
○ This is a great way to sustain your interest while you’re studying or doing work. Try studying in different environments: in your backyard, in a park, in a café..the options are endless! Try different study methods, too, different methods for note-taking! If it’s one thing that perceivers enjoy it’s change.
There are lots of MBTI skeptics, but there are just as many people who have learned a lot about themselves through MBTI– and who have used to information to actively better their lives. Hopefully, this will help you improve how you study and take in information…just in time for the new school year!
(Sobs tears of anguish.)