How to Prepare for an Academic History or Social Studies Competitions
Joining an academic competition can be an unnerving and tense experience. You spend days and hours preparing endlessly and in the end, you're gripped with panic, worrying you haven't studied enough or haven't read enough books. Well, as most successful competition winners can tell you, studying is just one part of the equation in winning the competition. If you really want to win, you've got to put yourself in the right frame of mind for the competition. So, here are a few tips for those wanting to know how to prepare for an academic history or social studies competition.
History or social studies is a wonderful subject that should not be memorized
Many think history is all about rote memorization. As education experts will tell you, memorization is the lowest form of mental exercise. There's more to history than just simply memorizing dates, names, and places. There's the understanding of the how's and the why's, the realization of the implications of each event, and the ability to reflect upon the past and see how this affects the present and the future.
History is a beautiful and an easy subject to study because it deals with stories. As most children can tell you, they love reading books because of the stories, not because of the name and numbers. Recalling information becomes easier when you can associate this information with a story. Understanding the flow of history is better than aimlessly memorizing data without understanding its context. It is much easier to remember names, dates, and places if you can place these names, dates, and places in the part of a story. As you recall how it happens, you recall each story's piece of data.
All the preparation you need is reading
Once you've understood that it is more important to understand the story than to memorize the details, you'll progress faster in your studies. Time is your enemy in preparing for the competition. The fewer time you have left to read books, the lesser chances you have for acquiring more knowledge of history. So as much as possible, it is better that you read more rather than read repeatedly. You have a higher chance of recalling more data by having read more, than by reading things repeatedly.
Use memorization techniques in remembering data
While it has been said above that memorization is not your key goal in preparation, that does not mean that you must not remember. It only means that you must prioritize understanding before memorization. Use memorization techniques such as using acronyms, or associating certain data with each other, or even laying tunes over the data you're trying to memorize in order to make recalling easier. Whatever technique you use, just make sure that you do not spend time putting memorization over understanding the subject's story.
Prepare your body and mind before the event
It's not simply important to just spend time studying. You must also take care that your mind and body are prepared for the rigors of the competition. Eat a balanced diet and avoid tiring out your brain. A few days before the competition, stop reading anything connected with social studies. If you're going to read, do it for recreation. At this time, anything you would do should be irrelevant as new data you'll try to absorb just won't stick longer and you're likely to forget this once competition starts.
Know the rules of the competition. It won't matter if you know all the correct answers if you've been disqualified because you've broken the rules. Eat a light but full meal before the event. You'll need all the energy this meal provides while you tax your brain to the fullest.