History is a subject that has several quirks all to its own. Unlike a math or science course, there is usually no one correct answer when trying to determine the end result of a historical event. Unlike an English course, you typically won’t be graded on how well you write, to a degree course. What you will be tested on mainly is comprehension, and taking this into account, you need to learn how to study specifically to pass a history test.
History is very subjective, and so you need to be able to think about all the issues being presented. Slavery seems bad, but to the south, it was a way of life. So when the Civil War started, would it be true that the southern states were acting badly, and the northern states were just? I would say yes, but why?
You need to know the context in which events occur, and then be able to defend your analysis. In order to clearly define why slavery was wrong, you need to know what it dealt with. Who was effected, why were they effected, and how did the events in that time period alter the future?
You need to know who the key people were, and just as history is all about context, be able to define why they were important, and why you need to know them for the test. Why did George Washington become president, and why was it significant that he was chosen as our first president?
When studying for a history test, try to get as many sources as possible. Sure, you want to rely on your class notes, and whatever your professor will tell you, but it doesn’t hurt to do a little research on your own. This will help you add depth in case you are asked to write an essay for your exam, which in most cases I did when taking history exams in college. It never hurts to throw in a couple of extra facts to impress your professor, and maybe get a couple extra points on the test.
Preparing for a history test is easy if you know what you are studying. As long as you pay attention, and know who you are talking about, things should go smoothly. Again, remember to study your class notes, and if you need extra help, ask your professor. I know that before exams, most of my history professors would hold review sessions the previous class, and help us determine what we needed to know.
Taking all this into account, you should be able to study for a history exam more effectively, and hopefully get a high grade. The key to passing is not just knowing who did what, but why they did, and why it was important.