10 Tips on How to Improve Your Social Studies Grades


What do you want to be when you grow up? While this may have been your go-to question when you were younger, as you got older, you probably started to wonder what your major in college would be, or what job would best suit your future career goals. Maybe, if you’re in high school right now, social studies class has allowed you to begin thinking about your future career options. And while it may seem hard to believe now, the information that you learn in social studies class will help set the foundation for your future career.

Read the textbook

Before you start studying, you must understand what you’re reading. That means you need to read and reread your textbook—and take notes (more on that later). Make sure that you have a good grasp of each chapter before going forward. Remember: It’s not enough to simply read through your book; you need to practice active reading.

Set aside time to study every day

Establishing a daily study routine will help you learn more in less time and make it easier for you to study when you do have free time. As a social studies student, you must develop good studying habits right away. It may seem like a lot of work at first, but once you get into a routine, it will become second nature. And as your teacher tells you every year: Good grades are worth it!

Use flashcards as a learning tool

Flashcards are a great tool for memorizing information, particularly if you make them yourself. Simply take a deck of blank index cards and write your vocabulary terms on one side, then flip it over and write an example of each term (i.e., France is known as The motherland in French). Over time, you’ll have added hundreds of pieces of new information to your brain with just a few hours of work. And because flashcards require active recall—that is, you have to use your knowledge to fill in the blanks—you’re more likely to remember that information long-term. This approach can be applied to anything from grammar rules and math formulas to U.S. presidents or chemical elements.
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Take practice tests

Formal quizzes and standardized tests are a fact of life in many high school courses. Practice is important—if you don’t know what’s going to be covered, you won’t have time to review your notes before class, let alone dedicate time outside of class. Test yourself throughout high school. Take practice tests in all of your classes, even if they don’t have formal quizzes or tests. Formalize your studying: To make progress over time, you need a study routine that works for you. The more consistent you are with your schedule and execution, the better off you’ll be during big tests at the end of quarters and semesters.

Visit some historical sites

Visiting historical sites and museums is a great way to get inspired and expand your knowledge of history. If you have time, visit multiple spots! If you’re traveling or otherwise short on time, it may be easier just to pick one location and take advantage of an audio tour. You can learn a lot from these self-guided tours, so long as you choose one that provides plenty of information about what you see as well as includes some tidbits about how things were in past eras. Many historical sites also have websites where you can download audio tours that are especially useful for catching up when you’re working from home or away from your computer.

Write your questions about what you learned and then find answers

Asking questions and having them answered is one of the best ways you can improve your understanding of anything. But it’s not enough to ask someone else a question. You have to think about it yourself and find an answer. When you do, your brain engages with new material in different parts than when you just read about it or listen to a lecture. The areas that aren’t used get stronger and those that are used less get weaker—the exact opposite of what you want if you’re trying to absorb knowledge. Put time aside every day for asking questions related to something you just learned or are trying to learn—it will make a difference in how well (and how fast) you understand new things.

Teach someone else what you learn

It’s easy to let your skills stagnate or forget things you learned in school when they weren’t used regularly. One of my favorite ways to keep my skills sharp is by teaching someone else what I’ve learned. It helps me clarify what I know and feel more confident that I can apply it, plus it makes me excited about learning more because now I have a reason for doing so. Plus, it shows your employer that you are interested in learning new things and are more than just an employee doing a job.

Use online resources from other teachers or students

Teachers are some of your best resources when it comes to studying or improving your grade. By using online forums and bulletin boards, you can connect with other students who have taken your course in previous years. You may also be able to contact a teacher directly if you have access to his or her e-mail address. If a teacher answers your questions, be sure to give an update once you’ve tried one of their suggestions. This will show them that you took their advice seriously and help them improve as a teacher.

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