To some, History can appear a challenging subject. The amount of information that you're expected to know by the end of 6th year might seem overwhelming - or at least that’s what I thought at the beginning of 5th year! I quickly learned, however, that once I broke down the subject into topics, and each topic into a select number of essay titles, that the information required is actually much more manageable than it seems!
Find out which study method suits you
Everyone studies in a different way: some people find that flashcards help them retain the information easier, some prefer to learn from bullet point essay plans, and some like to watch historical documentaries on Netflix or YouTube! Personally, I used a study method that was quite alternative, but it was the only method that worked for me in the long run. Since I am a visual learner, I took an essay and illustrated it into a graphic novel or comic book style. I typically had three cartoon images per paragraph and I would write the key dates or statistics in bold or bubble writing throughout the comic. It may have taken slightly longer to prepare than flashcards but once I had them drawn I could easily recall them without any issues. Perhaps if you struggle with the more familiar study methods then you could give this one a try!
Practice your timing
This tip is vital. You could have everything else planned and prepared to perfection and still end up falling at the final hurdle if you do not consider timing! History may be one of the most demanding subjects out there with regard to timing, having to write 3 long essays, 1 short essay and answer a comprehension all in the space of 2 hours and 50 minutes and so it’s crucial that you know the exact length of time that it takes you to write out the content. You should dedicate no more than 40 minutes to each question.
If you find that you're going over the limit of 40 minutes, cut the essay down. Remember that this is not an English essay, so no need for flowery prose and filler language. History essays are fact-based and you should easily be able to fit an essay into the given time.
On the day of the exam, the first tip I would give would be to bring a watch with you. As previously mentioned, the exam is heavily time-dependent and so you do not want to be wasting precious time craning your neck and squinting your eyes to the giant clock on the wall of the exam hall!
Read Vicky's full guide for more tips on timing in the exam!
Keep calm and carry on
Breathe and remain calm: the more stress you place upon yourself, the less clearly you will be able to think and recall facts. Take the first 10 minutes of the exam to scan through the paper and highlighting the essay titles that you're capable of doing. If there are more than one per topic then choose the question that you feel more confident in answering and that suits your particular range of knowledge better.
Fail to plan ...
One of the most important tips I have for you is to plan all three essays in accordance to the question before you even start the exam. Remember, your OE will be based on how well you answered the question so you must be aware of what the question is asking of you. You could write 100 pages on the Moon Landing but end up getting 0 marks if you don't accurately answer the question!
What I did was write out bullet points which were simply brief sentences describing what each paragraph is about, followed by the key dates and statistics. This way you can easily reference the plans later on in the exam, when you will likely be exhausted and less focused. You will not have to worry about wasting time trying to recall a certain date mid-way through writing the essay and thus lose your train of thought.
Don't leave early!
Finally, if you do happen to write all the content very quickly and find that you have extra time at the end, do NOT leave early! Revise the essays that you have written. Fact check and date check that everything is accurate and you did not omit any information. You can always improve your essays or DBQ responses in the extra time.
Best of luck in the exam! You'll do brilliantly!
Vicky and the Studyclix Team :)