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How to Ace your History Class Part 2

Updated: Mar 20, 2022

Here are all the tips for learning history in order to memorize 100s of years of events in just a few hours.

By: Ava Kesler

1. Dry Read

Read the textbook chapter. Don't underline or take notes or anything. Just read the information and let it sink in.

This will give you a general understanding of the time period, and will put everything into context. Sometimes we become so absorbed in one paragraph at a time, that we don't realize how there is so much more to the chapter that we have to take under consideration.

2. Prepare to Take Notes

Get a dependable notebook and some colored pens. Make a key at the top of the page for different categories.

Here is mine:

navy blue- policies, dates

light blue- nicknames, specifics

pink- quotes

purple- people's names

green- locations, countries

While you take notes, you will be writing each of these details according to your color key. Not all of the information will be in color (definitions and descriptions should be in black or gray) but the vast majority will if you take good notes.

3. Pick Out the Good Stuff

Take one section of the reading, such as a paragraph, and read the whole thing. Then scrutinize it for details. When it comes down to test time, it won't matter how much you can generalize about the time period. You have to know actual facts and historical names to get credit.

If you have a good color key, this will be easy. Just look for anything that can be color coded, and jot it down. In black or gray, add little descriptors so that you can review your notes later and know what all the specifics mean in relation to each other.

4. How Much to Write

Because you are on a time crunch, writing should be minimal. The details in color serve as trigger words, and the black or gray words should be your rephrasing of the textbook.

I can't tell you how many times a book would take a whole paragraph to explain something that could have been said in one sentence. If just that sentence makes sense to you, then only write that sentence.

5. Use the Internet

If anything is unclear in the book, just google it and find a quick definition. Many times textbooks overcomplicate their wording for various reasons, and a perfectly clear and even better definition is waiting on Google.

6. Review Session 1

The first session of review should be spent highlighting. You can do this whenever you get the chance- since time is limited. I like color coding my highlights based on the themes of history- blue for political, green for economic, and and purple for social.

7. Review Session 2

The next session of review consists of underlining. What you underline is just up to you. The purpose is just to help the content sink in. I tend to just underline everything, and the motion of moving my hand and the contact of my pen with the paper helps me focus.

8. Review Session 3- if time allows

Go over the colored words (in the same color you wrote them in). This is a more tedious process as you have to match your handwriting, but it will make the words more bold and help you remember them as you retrace them. The slow motion required to trace over them also helps calm yourself, something especially important when studying for a stressful test.

9. Self-Test

This step will really show yourself if you know the information. Look at each word you wrote in color and ask yourself what it means. You could do this by rewriting each in list form on a separate piece of paper, then making yourself define them, or you could make flashcards. But because you don't have much time, I suggest just looking at the word in your notes and asking yourself what it means. If you are too tempted to peak at the surrounding words, then get a study buddy to say the colored word to you and have you explain its meaning.

10. Have a Good Attitude

Don't worry! All it takes is some time and effort, and you will do great! Email us if you have any specific concerns and we will get back to you shortly. Best of luck in your studies!

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