Think of it like a big story
The first thing you need to know about history is that it’s all a big story. The only difference here is that dates and facts are not fictitious and you need to remember them. However, if you make the story interesting for yourself, you’ll have an easier time remembering the small details.
Given this, you should be reading every chapter, event or incident like a story, and every person like a character.
Interpret Historical Terms Contextually
One of the best ways to study history is to read everything with complete context and background. If you read a term or statement for instance, try to look up its historical significance, who said it, and in response to what.
Studying these background details will give you a much better understanding and will help you remember the particulars easily.
Relate Events and Incidents in a Timeline
Another great method of studying history is to create a timeline and list everything in chronological order. This will put things in perspective and allow you to understand how events unfolded. You should then relate all the events on the timeline, linking the dots and finding out the causes and factors behind events.
Maintain your own short notes
This can be a good hobby and a great practice of your organization skills. Start keeping your own notes, listing everything you study, along with the exact dates, names of people and locations involved.
A lot of students make the mistake of taking prepared notes from others, and end up either confusing themselves or running away from the subject altogether
Use visual aids
Studying history will be much more difficult if you restrict yourself to reading texts. A great way to mix things up is to use visual aids, including highlighters, colored pens and sticky notes. Underline the key terms in your text book and then note them down separately in your own short notes.
Similarly, another good idea is to make PowerPoint slides for your notes and attach photos with them to stimulate your memory and help you retain the information.
Listen to your own recordings
If you have a Dictaphone or even a smartphone, you can easily install an app to record your voice. Read a paragraph or two which you want to memorize, and record yourself as you do.
Listening to these recordings again and again will further cement your learning and make it much easier for you to memorize those details.
Try video clips
You can easily find tons of video sources and clips on the internet which not only provide visual material but are also backed by audio lectures and speakers who walk you through the historic details of any event.
If possible you can download such videos for regular viewing, or create your own short notes following the lectures in those videos.
Create flash cards
Flash cards are extremely useful, especially when it comes to studying history. You can easily write down major events on one side, or names of historic personalities and then the related dates on the other side.
Once you are done with a few cards (10 – 20), shuffle them up and then pick them one up at random and try to remember what the name or date on one side matches with on the other.
A lot of students use these flash cards to memorize facts and dates which are hard to retain otherwise.
Prepare ahead of class
If you struggle during lectures or have trouble concentrating in class, you can try and read up on the chapter you will be studying in class a day before. Even if you don’t study the chapter in depth, just skim through it to be familiar with the story.
When your teacher presents the same chapter in class, you will already know the basics and won’t find it difficult to follow the lecture.
You might even be able to answer a few questions or contribute something interesting to the discussion.
Look at history in light of the present
When you read about a particular event, person or incident, try to link it to its present day significance. For instance, if you are a student of American history, you can try looking up the battle grounds from the revolution and the family trees of the revolutionaries involved in the struggle for independence.
You should also take note of the modern landmarks built to commemorate historical achievements and celebrate key figures.
There is no doubt about the fact that History sometimes, particularly in college, can be very dull and daunting. It calls for absolute attention particularly, as you need to consider pages upon pages of dates, events, facts and important people. However, the subject can be rewarding if you can be diligently creative enough to handle it.