So, you’ve reached that part of your secondary school journey. You’ve sat in the classroom for months working through your history textbook, maybe not really listening, doing bits of homework, some worksheets, and believing your exams are too far away to matter.
Now, with your history examination on the horizon, you’ve got to sit down and learn everything you’ve been taught all over again. That’s something a little odd about school: you spend half your time learning something and the rest learning it a second time.
But the important part of this process is really the second, when you get preparing for your exam (although success in the first part makes this preparation a little easier). And, depending on your teacher, you’ll have to do much of this on your own: preparing every essay, going over your notes, and exploring textbooks and websites for extra information.
Luckily, though, with this last point, we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of the best history revision resources out there – from books and websites to apps and podcasts – because it is not easy to study whilst trawling the internet for everything in your syllabus. So, whether you are studying imperialism, the Cold War, or the Industrial Revolution – or early modern history or the modern world – you’ll find what you need in the resources below.
Books to Help You Revise History
In this day and age, with the easiness of internet navigation, there’s something about a book that feels a little old school. Yet, honestly, the history world is nothing without those dusty hardbacks you find in your school library.
So, whilst you can’t Ctrl+F a book for the precise information that you need, these resources are invaluable for your revision. They can be infinitely more engaging than many sites online and they are authoritative and often designed with your exam board curriculum in mind. This means that they are tailored precisely to your Edexcel GCSE exams or your AQA A Level.
Let’s take a quick look here, and if you want more information, then check out our in-depth article on the best history revision books available.
History Exam Board Coursebooks
One of the most important texts you will use to revise for your assessment will be the coursebook designed and organised by your exam board. This holds for whatever subjects you are studying – whether geography, maths, English Literature, or business studies.
For history, Edexcel, OCR, and AQA have made a huge effort to approve incredibly useful books – all with timelines, primary sources, and lively exploration of the thematic and conceptual issues.
Find the AQA one published by Oxford or Cambridge University Presses. Edexcel’s are published by Pearson, whilst OCR’s are with Hodder Education. For every module, GCSE or A Level, you’ll find exactly what you need.
The Access to History Textbooks
Hodder Education’s Access to History textbooks are some of the best-selling Key Stage 4 and A Level books for students on the market. Packed with beautiful images and concise and compelling text, they are a winner for history students in secondary education.
The series is usually written by actual historians, to give you a proper perspective on the historical issues you are studying.
The Famous CGP Revision Series
We say ‘famous’ because come exam season your school will be overrun by kids holding CGP’s revision books. These come in two parts – one with the content to be studied, and the other with quizzes, games, and tasks.
Recommended primarily for GCSE, this series will get you applying your knowledge of world history in a properly fun and interactive way.
Proper History Books
If you are serious about achieving the highest marks in your exams – particularly for A Level – you will need to do something a little out there. That’s looking at books written by a professional academic historian – and designed not for the framework of your exam.
Why should we bother with this? The answer to that is simple: because the more you read, the better your understanding of the history topic will become – and because the examiner wants to see that you have read more than just the textbook.
Start with writers like John Guy, Mary Beard, or Paul Ginsborg – all of whom are known for their accessibility.
History Websites for Your Studies
Once you have targeted the books you are going to engage, you can start testing yourself with websites. As you will know, these can be a little more interactive and fun than books, and with a laptop or a phone you can study from wherever you like.
A little word of warning however! Recognise that not every site is super reliable. That, of course, is precisely why we have written this: to give you the guidance you may need to find the good ones.
As with books, you’ll find sites helping you with every exam board and qualification – whether it is the iGCSE or the International Baccalaureate. Take a look at our longer article on the best history revision websites for more!
Study Easily with BBC Bitesize History
BBC Bitesize is an institution for revision for students in Britain. It aims to introduce you to the main subjects (again based on the exam boards) and you’ll be assessed by means of a long quiz or assignment at the end of each section.
As the BBC is a public organisation, the whole thing is free. Generally, you’d be daft not to try it.
The History Learning Site
Whilst not completely tailored to the guidelines of your curricular specifications, the History Learning Site covers all of the main themes of your GCSEs and A Levels, in hugely comprehensive articles.
Whether it’s for Nazi Germany and the rise of Hitler, World War I – or anything else in global history – this site will give you insights you to encourage wider reading.
Tes’s History Revision Resources
Designed for teachers and tutors, Tes is also a great resource for students. With lesson plans, presentations, suggestions for coursework, and primary source material – all compiled by teachers themselves – this site has incomparable amounts of material that is great for history revision.
Don’t be put off by the fact that this is teacher territory – or that some of the resources ask for payment – as the free materials are really excellent and are used up and down the country.
Revising GCSE and A Level History with Apps and Podcasts
The new revision technologies on the block move away from things as ancient as books and web pages. These are designed for a learner who likes to move around whilst studying, or who wants to revise on the bus or whilst walking to school.
These are revision apps and podcasts, which are incredibly useful for studying biology, economics, or chemistry too.
So, here are some highlights, but check out our longer article on these new history revision tools for more.
Get Ahead with the World’s Most Popular Revision App: Gojimo
Gojimo is taking the revision world by storm right now, as over a third of GCSE and A Level students use it already. (Truth be told, you probably know this one already!)
Handy for literally any subject you could imagine, the app’s content is tailored towards the exam boards. Loaded with information – and then packed with quizzes to test your knowledge – the app also provides advice on de-stressing and on the ways to apply to university.
All in all, a very impressive app.
Mr Allsop’s History Podcast
The benefits of the podcast format are that you can study handsfree and you can revise just by listening to a recording. And whilst they might not sound much like benefits, these may well revolutionise your revision process.
Mr Allsop’s History Podcast is one of the best around, covering everything from the GCSE and A Level history programme. He’s a Cambridge graduate and a history teacher himself, so he knows his stuff.
Sincerely, they are a really great way to learn everything you need.
Quizlet’s Multi-Purpose Revision Tool
We’ve all used flashcards in the past, and some us have used them so much that they’ve become coffee-stained, crinkled, and illegible. Luckily, technology these days has a solution for precisely this.
Quizlet allows you to create your own flashcards on your phone, and it gives you access to a database of millions of different flashcards created by students across the world. Besides the thirty million students using the app every month to study, teachers are using it in the classroom too.
Now, that’s that. And, if you are going to be using everything here - and other top resources for history revision, you’ll be the most prepared student in school. Do it, see which one suits you best. And best of luck in your exams!