How To Tackle History Syllabus in an Interesting Way?

history preparation

Most of us have tried to escape history, back in school days, isn’t it? ‘I would never study this subject once I pass my board exams’. But all our dreams of a history free world shatters, when after passing out school we realize that every competitive exam has a very special relation (direct or indirect) with this subject. While preparing to qualify the same, I realized that ignoring History wasn’t a wise decision. Not only this subject is important from exam point of view, it also enables an aspirant’s critical thinking skills and develops cross-cultural understanding. It has been rightly said- “A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.”- Marcus Garvey.

Keep reading for a proper insight into effective and tried tips to cover History syllabus efficiently, points covered are:

  • Some tips to study History like a Pro!
  • Invest Time to look for the ‘Right Sources’
  • Develop the ‘Right Technique’ to read History from Books
  • Retain using Tricks. Create your own!
  • Maintain a study circle

History has always been seen as a subject which requires ‘rote learning’, of dates, events, individuals, wars and reforms. But is it the right perspective to view our past? Imagine watching a movie, do we find it difficult to retain the script, the star cast and the series of events? Same is with learning history, which is merely a series of past events. Just like a movie, every event in our history is interconnected. We just have to feed these past events in a chronological manner to our mind, so that retaining it doesn’t seem like an impossible task.

Some tips to study History like a Pro!

Before coming to the tips for studying history, there are some general advice that work for all the subjects. Create a study environment where you are not disturbed. Before entering the study space, get rid of all the distractions. A secret to success is to stay motivated all the time, which can be done by reminding yourself of your goal again and again. Break your study hours into smaller sessions and fit in some ‘Me Time’ for exercise, music, a hobby and most importantly healthy and tasty meals (now this one suited me). Keep yourself hydrated, so that you don’t put the blame on studies for making you feel drowsy. Coming back to History, these are some tips.

Invest Time to look for the ‘Right Sources’

This is the most basic and important thing to do. Do a good amount of research before buying books for studying history, which offers correct data and have MCQs with correct answers. Going through NCERT books is helpful in getting a brief idea and covering the entire syllabus quickly.

We will soon come up with a new blog covering important books and study material for History.

Meanwhile, read – 15 Must Read History Books for Civil Services Examination (CSE)

Develop the ‘Right Technique’ to read History from Books

history for UPSC

As mentioned above History remains boring if you think of mugging up the subject. While researching for a correct method, I came across, ‘The OK4R Method’ devised by Dr. Walter Pauk. This powerful reading strategy stands as

‘O’ for Overview- This step involves just going through the text, the main headings, introduction and the summary in order to acquaint yourself with the chapter.

‘K’ for Key Idea- Start from the beginning of the chapter, going through the highlighted sections, important maps, flow diagrams, bulleted sections. These are usually the important areas which gives the key idea which the author has tried to convey through his writing.

‘R1’ for Reading- Read the entire story as if you are reading a story. The more focused your reading, the less difficult it would become for you to retain what you have read.

‘R2’ for Recall- To make it interesting take it as a challenge. Keep your book aside and try to remember the gist of every paragraph. Make notes this way, you will notice that your retaining capacity increases manifold with this brain exercise.

‘R3’ for Reflect- After making notes, try and think over what you have studied. Connect the chapter with the previous learnt topics. This step will not only help you retain the content but also help you develop critical thinking skills.

‘R4’ for Review and Revision- Without this step all the hard work invested may go in vain. Keep revising your hand made notes, so that it is stored in your memory for good.

Retain using Tricks. Create your own!

Mnemonic technique is the most common and effective technique which you can use to memorize facts and events in a chronological order. While researching I encountered an interesting mnemonic on web, ‘HASINA MASHUKA AA’, the ruling dynasties in order.

HA for Haryanka Dynasty

SI for Sishunga Dynasty

NA for Nanda Dynasty

MA for Maurya Dynasty

SH for Shunga Dynasty

KA for Kalinga Dynasty

AA for Andhra Dynasty

You can create such mnemonics using initials, to retain in a fun way.

You can also use other tricks like maintaining flashcards or use different color markers to highlight text which will help the brain to respond better to differently highlighted dates, events, facts and popular names.

Maintain a study circle

Being around friends preparing for the same exam or with same subjects is very helpful. There exists a healthy competition and you can also exchange notes for better understanding. My friends and me used to take up one chapter at a time and prepare it in a way as we have to teach the others. This is one such way to prepare well for exams, while working on confidence and communication. You can also search for historical movies and try to link what you have studied from books. But stick to the books for dates and facts because movies may not have very accurate scripts. Samvidhan a TV series is also full of information on our constitution.

Gandhi, Tango Charlie, Bhagat Singh, Shool are such movies which you can include in your watch list. Try exploring the net to look for movies based on both Indian and World History.

Keep testing yourself

When you take a subject as a challenge, your efficiency and performance increases manifolds. After preparing a chapter, keep testing yourself, practice as many questions as possible. Discuss with friends, attempt online quizzes. By doing so, you won’t panic during appearing the competitive exams as most of the questions would seem familiar.

Briefing Up

It is rightly said that, Hard Work is the key. But if you don’t work smart, you will work for the rest of your life. There is a good deal of competition in every competitive exam today, put in all your efforts and stay motivated, you will definitely succeed.

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