Studying History

For some people, history is an easy subject. For the rest of us, it could be way better. Every history teacher I’ve ever had has always told me that ‘it’s just like a story’, but they never seem to acknowledge the fact that sometimes this ‘story’ can be very boring, or that it has way too many names, dates, and places. However, since history is a mandatory subject in most places, we need to find out ways that will ease our suffering. If that’s what you’re looking for, then you’ve come to the right place.


1. Do not study last minute

I’m a huge procrastinator, so this is next to impossible for me, but it is incredibly important that you start studying early when it comes to history. Start studying at least two weeks before by going through any new chapters you’ve learned since your last exam. I’ll only go over the older chapters after I’m confident I’ve mastered the newer ones. Since History is a subject heavily based on facts and memorization, you’ll need to keep in mind that it’s something that you need to read over and over again, so make sure that you read each chapter at least twice.


2. Write short notes

While you’re going through your textbook, take down names of important people, places, and dates on a piece of paper. Add on any other important information about any of these things, as well as anything from the chapter that you seem to always forget. Limit your notes to these things, and try not to write down anything else, especially bits of information that you can remember easily. Before your exam, go over these notes, and you’ll find it way easier to answer the questions you probably couldn’t have answered before.


3. Talk to yourself

After reading a subtopic, or a paragraph, try telling yourself what happened, and see how much you’ve remembered from reading. Once you’ve hit all the points you can remember, go over the paragraph again and pick out all the points you’ve missed. Do this over and over again until you feel good about the subtopic, then move on to the next one. Make sure to have water at your disposal, because your throat will get dry very fast. You can also talk to your friends who are taking the exams with you, as it will help strengthen your memory on that particular subtopic, and your friends will be able to refresh their memory as well.


4. Skim your textbook and reread old exercises

If I’m feeling extremely tired, and can’t focus well enough to read and absorb new information, I’ll skim over the pages of the chapter I’m studying and I’ll try to take in as much as I can. When you do this, your main goal is to take in all the bold (and highlighted) words. Of course, doing this will not help you learn the entire chapter in great detail, but it will at least help you know what it is about. I also do this before and after I start reading a chapter, just so I know what all the important points are.


Usually, old practice questions mainly focus on the important points of the chapter. By going through some of your old exercises, you’ll be able to point out your weak areas and this will make your studying process much easier.


5. Do more exercises

When you’re doing new exercises, try to resist the urge to refer to any of your materials. This way, you’ll be able to assess your actual knowledge on the subject. Mark your exercises as soon as you’re done, and go through every mistake you’ve made. If you make a mistake and correct it, you’ll remember it more, and this will help you avoid making the same mistakes in the future.


These are just some tips I have on studying history, and they have helped me a lot. If they work for you, then that’s great! Keep in mind that everyone has their way of studying different subjects and that what works for me may not work for you. Nevertheless, it’s always good to try out new ways of solving problems, and seeing which one works the best for us. Hopefully, these tips help you out as much as they have helped me and will make you dread studying history a little less.


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