How to Study for US History

Instructor: Kimberly Elliott

Kimberly teaches college humanities and has a master's degree in humanities.

Studying history involves a lot of memorization of names, dates and events. Read on to gain valuable insight into making your studying more successful.

Setting Up a Successful Study Plan

Having a practical plan for studying U.S. History can make a measurable difference on your next test or exam. Whether you choose a step-by-step plan, as outlined below, or pick out a couple of steps that meet your study needs, you'll find establishing some sort of methodology can help you develop a more effective study plan.

1. Survey

Going through your history textbook, look at chapter titles and section headings. Review pictures, maps, charts, and graphs. Read through any review questions provided in the text. This process allows you to get an overview of the chapter and its main points, and you will start to form your own questions about the material.

2. Question

Now that you have surveyed the chapter, you should formulate questions based on the section headings. Try to come up with questions beginning with who, what, when, where, why, and how. Write these questions down as you go, leaving space for your answers. Some example questions might include:

  • Who was instrumental in this event?
  • What important events happened during this time period?
  • When did the event or movement start and end?
  • Where was this movement most experienced?
  • Why did the event occur?
  • How has this movement affected us today?

Alternatively (or in addition to formulating your own questions), you can use the U.S. History I and U.S. History II exams to identify the areas that require a little more study time.

3. Read

Taking one section at a time, read the text carefully, keeping your questions in mind. As you find answers to your questions, jot them down, taking care with names and dates for accuracy.

While going over your textbook, search for lessons within the following courses to find supplementary materials that can make study time more fun and a whole lot easier. The short video and text lessons emphasize the important facts you need to learn in such a way that make them memorable. And if you get stuck, you can always ask an instructor for help.

4. Recite

After each section, close the book, cover your notes, and go over your questions or take one of the U.S. History exams on Find out what you've absorbed and what you still need to study. Once you are able to answer all the questions, repeat the question, read, and recite steps for each subsequent section of the chapter.

Helpful tip: Each question answered incorrectly from the U.S. History exams on links you back to the lesson where you can review the correct answer.

5. Review

Once you feel comfortable in your knowledge of the U.S. History topics you've studied, print off the worksheets available from the U.S. History lessons you need and quiz yourself periodically up until test time to make sure the information sticks with you. This gives you a great offline tool to use to make sure you're on your game when you walk in to class.

More Options

For students desiring supplementary assistance aligned specifically to their course, offers several courses that align with several US history textbooks, including:

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