Study Tips for Art History Exams

Published by Rosey Liu, watercolor

Published by Rosey Liu, watercolor

     Nothing compares to this.

  1. Set aside one hour a day for Art History study with one day off.
  2. Read the book.
  3. Take more time to look at the illustrations
    than reading the text. Then read the text
  4. Go back to the illustrations and understand
    the points of the text in visual form.
  5. Understand the illustrations in whatever way you wish—wonder, dream, joke, ask “why
    there is always a dog in the corner.” This way you personalize the material.
  6. After class each day before you go to sleep, review the pictures in your book and make a list of the big 5 of those works shown.  Do not belabor this.  Just do it for a half hour or 45 minutes.  Try to remember what was said in class as you look at each picture.


  1. Always attend class. Art history is not one to skip.
  2. Draw pictures of the images on the screen.  Keep the hand moving. 
  3. Take notes. Focus on the Artist Name, Country of origin, Date, and Medium when noting artwork


A week to several days before the test, use one or more of the following methods.

1. Study Tape Method

Read from your list of works  into a dictaphone or other recording device.  Just the Big 5.  Listen to it
obsessively for the days before the exam.  Try to close your eyes and picture each slide as your voice reads
the 5 points of information.  If you can’t picture it, stop the tape and look at your book or power point. Listen every chance you get– in the shower, walking to class, eating, etc.  Your friends and loved ones will forgive you, eventually.

2. Study Buddy Method

Just like it sounds—study with a partner.  Use flash cards or cover up the bottom of your computer screen with
Post-Its to conceal information and quiz that way.

3.  The Ebony Method

This former student made up little songs and rhythms to the information.  She heard them when the slide
came up.  That’s the great part of aural study methods—you hear your own voice claiming the information.

4. The Jocelyn Method

Write the list comprised of the Big 5 for each work. Rewrite the list over and over. Writing has been proven to positively affect memory.

5. The Sophie Method

Copy the Power Points and annotate them with your own set of notes–the Big 5, terms, and points of social history.

6. The Adam Method

Draw quick line sketches of each work of art on a flash card. This allows you to boost your understanding by the work of the hand (like taking notes). Add information next to the sketch or on the back of the card.

7.  The Hall Zombie Method

Take your flash cards, list, or study tape and pace down long hallways or pace the room. Movement stimulates
the brain and is good for you.  Try to see the images without running into furniture!

8. Techie Method

Quiz the slides from your I-Phone or Android.  Some students put the PowerPoints on their TV. Don’t know how? Neither do I!  But smart people are figuring this out as you read… That’s why it’s called the techie method!

9.  The Celery Method

Get celery sticks—a plate of them.  Chew while studying.  It stimulates the brain and has practically
no calories.  This really works to keep alert! Gum can work, too.

10.  The Where’s Waldo Method

Find silly details in the works and use these to help you remember hard-to-remember slides.
Modern cars and tourists work great, so do bald guys.

11. The Hippy Trippy Method

Print out flash cards and paste them all around your bedroom without the information.  Walk around, point
and name.  Do this for a week, and tell me if this works.

12.  The Get to Bed Already Method

Pack it in and just get a good night’s sleep.  It’ll be alright.