13 Tips for Passing History Class

History class… Boring, right? WRONG! I can’t tell you how many times students would come to office hours and complain about how dry the subject was. Many of the students were freshmen and didn’t know how to engage the materials. College courses are different from high school courses and the students would become overwhelmed. As a GTA, it was my job to teach the students how to engage the materials given to them by the professor. As a GTA, I created a list of helpful tools and gave it to my students to help make college less daunting. This blog post is a summation of that list!

*Disclaimer: These are tips that I utilized and observed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Check with your GTA to see how the class will work at your school! 

Kaitlyn’s Helpful Tips For Passing College Courses

1). Download and read the syllabus before going to your first class. The professor will most likely go over the syllabus, but you want to be able to ask questions when they are done. 

2). Make a friend or two in class on the first day. Swap emails or phone numbers so that way if you miss class you can get notes from them. You can also study together for exams or work on writing assignments.

3). Buy a planner, download a free calendar app, or set reminders on your phone for important assignment dates during the first week of class. You don’t want to turn things in late because you’ll either get a point deduction or the professor might not accept it at all. 

4). Use different colored folders, spirals, highlighters, and pens to keep your thoughts, notes, and classes organized. 

5). Ask your professor or GTA if they have any tips to be successful in the class (i.e. note taking strategies, library resources, study sessions, etc.). 

6). Figure out when your professor’s and your GTA’s office hours are. You will want to visit office hours as frequently as you can. You can ask questions, discuss the material, and learn more about the topic. (Bonus: Some professors even offer bonus points for bringing in early assignment drafts to office hours.) 

7). Do the readings for class! You will learn so much and some professors require class participation in discussions as a part of your grade. 

8). Engage with the materials for class. Look for other sources online that compliment the topic if you aren’t understanding it. There are hundreds of YouTube videos, podcasts, social media accounts, and online resources that make history easy to understand! 

9). Always go to lecture (unless you are sick or have extreme circumstances). Some classes have attendance grades! Don’t skip class for fun or because you think you know all of the material already.

10). Always take notes in class. It doesn’t matter if you use a spiral or a laptop. Write down what the professor is saying because not all of the information will be on the slides – if they even use slides – you will want to reference this material when studying. (Bonus: Always write down the name of a slide because those words could wind up being the vocab words on the test. 

11). When completing a writing assignment start with an outline and then write a rough draft. Have your professor or GTA give you feedback on the rough draft. Incorporate the feedback into the final drafts of your paper! 

12). History exams are typically an essay test. Make sure to answer the following questions for every ID term: 





Why is this ID term significant

Giving the significance of a term is the most important thing you can do in a history class. The professor will tell you why it is significant in the lecture so make sure to write it down! 

13). Spend time in the library. There are so many amazing free resources in university libraries! They have free computers to rent, books on every topic you can imagine, archive collections, digital databases, workshops, and more. 

Concluding Thoughts

These are my 13 tips for passing history class! Thank you for reading! Here’s another helpful article on How to Write a Research Paper!  

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

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