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How Do I Improve My History Vocabulary?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Improving history vocabulary involves narrowing down your vocabulary focus to words that are relevant to the study of history in general, or even a specific type of history. The first step you should take to improve your history vocabulary is to decide what your goals are for improving your knowledge of words that relate to the study of history, and determine what type of history you will be studying: American History, world History, Canadian History, ancient History, and so on. Within each of these topics of study, you should be willing to read and write regularly to help improve your vocabulary skills.

Word lists and flash cards are great tools for improving your history vocabulary, but they are only useful if you use them properly. Write down words as you encounter them in a text, and look them up when you are finished reading. Write down the definitions, then go back and read those words in context so you can gain an understanding of how those words are used properly. Knowing the definition is only part of the process of improving your history vocabulary; knowing how to use the words properly is perhaps the more important step. Using the words in conversation or in writing will help you develop a more solid understanding of the function of the word. Repetition is important here, and you will need to use the word regularly for it to stay with you.

Woman holding a book
Woman holding a book

You may also improve your history vocabulary by obtaining word lists specifically for certain exams or tests. High school students frequently need to improve history vocabulary in preparation for exams they must take as part of the course curriculum, so these word lists can be obtained by a teacher or history department head in many cases. If this is not possible, the student may consider doing an Internet search to find word lists geared toward these exams. You should be prepared to find the definitions of the words on your own, as they may or may not be included with the lists.

If possible, try to form a study group in which you and other participants will be able to help each other learn and actively use different vocabulary words you are studying. This can be done by having conversations in which the vocabulary words are being used, or by studying the words off the flash cards; one person in the group can quiz another person in the group by reading the definition and waiting for the person to come up with the word, or vice versa.

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