I don’t see a lot of posts about how to effectively study for history classes, so I’m going to give it a shot! Warning: long post coming up!
Practice identifying the significance of something. The entire point of history is to learn the significance of different events and people. I guarantee that at some point you will be asked to state the significance, which is where this comes in handy. Also, knowing how to do this will vastly improve your essays.
Use timelines. Even if your teacher doesn’t make it mandatory to know dates, you should understand the order that major events happen. I will either write out a timeline or order my cue cards in the order they belong in after studying. Also, if your teacher does mark dates, you can at least be sure you know the decade it happened in even if you don’t know the full year.
Write extremely thorough notes. In some classes, like math, if you get something really well, you can kind of relax on the depth of your notes. I do not recommend this in history! Write down everything that seems important: names, dates, symbols, fun facts. The more you know, the easier it is to get full marks on a test without bullshitting.
Don’t rely on crash courses or internet research while studying. Your teacher taught you what they want you to know. While watching a crash course video might be a good way to start preparing for a course while on summer vacation, it is not an effective way to study for a test. The information in the video is not what you were taught in class, so it won’t be that helpful. Internet research is the same – you can easily find dates and locations, but the specific information taught in class can only be found in your personal notes.
Talk to people in the class. Some things in history are open to interpretation. A good way to get lots of opinions and viewpoints on a certain subject is to hold a study group and discuss the material. You guys can also help each other remember small details from the notes. Certain things will just stick in your brain while others won’t, so reviewing the notes with other students is a really good way to make sure you aren’t missing anything.
Write essay outlines. In a history class, you will probably be writing a lot of essays. So many of my friends have massive problems with history essays because they don’t organize them prior to writing. If you just start talking about an event and don’t know where to go next, you’re going to have a total trainwreck. Organize your thoughts!! Plan what you are going to write!! It doesn’t take that long and it will save your life every time you write an essay.
Read “Politics and the English Langauge” by George Orwell.
Learn how to write footnotes manually. Writing footnotes and formatting your paper yourself isn’t that hard to do. It will help you out a lot when Word isn’t working or something goes wrong with the formatting feature.
Be an expert during presentations. If you are doing a presentation, be an absolute expert in the topic. Try not to read from any notes and be sure that you can answer any questions the class or teacher might have. Presentations are a good way to boost your mark, so try and be super knowledgeable and impress your teacher.
Learn how to write a thesis. If you’re writing an essay, your thesis should be clear. In high school, you can usually figure out what your thesis should be by figuring out what the main question you’re trying to answer is, then answering it. Make sure that your answer is focusing on just one viewpoint, not somewhere in the middle. And, ask a teacher or friend to look at your thesis before you start writing!
This is all I can think of for the time being, but I might add more later. Or message me if you have other ideas you think I should add to my list!