How to write an A-Level History Essay: To what extent…./How far….

Hiya guys! 

So this is my new series of posts helping you write the best essays you can. Whether you hate History or are aiming for an A* and to continue doing this at university, going into an exam knowing exactly HOW to write the entire exam (because it’s all essay unfortunately) will help you secure the grade you want. 

So! There are different types of questions you can be given but the most common one (for an non-source question) will probably begin with “to what extent” i.e. “to what extent do bananas increase a monkey’s hyperactive and crazy behaviour {20 marks}” or more seriously (and topic related) “To what extent do you agree that the introduction of the statue of artificers was the most significant improvement to the government of the localities in the year 1485-1603?”

This type of structure applies to “how far” questions as well. 

So, here we go: 

Like I said in my previous post, the introduction can be argued to be the most important aspect of an essay (to what extent do you agree that the introduction of an essay is the most important part of an essay…. 🙂 ) 

WARNING: Long post 🙂 

Introduction:

  • Outline the argument of the question. (1-2 lines)
  • Context (2-3 lines)
  • Criteria (2-3 lines)
  • Other significant factors (2-3 lines)

Paragraph 1: Point in the question

  • Re-phrase the question to answer whether or not the point included in the title was the most significant (1 line).
  • Explain briefly what/when it was (1-2 lines)
  • Evidence (1-2 lines)
  • Analyse by considering the criteria outlined in the introduction. (5-6 lines)
  • Judgement and link back to question (1-2 lines)

So this paragraph should always be about the factor included in the question, regardless if you agree that it’s the most significant/important. 

 

Paragraph 2-4: Most important point after one in the question

  • Re-phrase the question to answer whether or not the point included in the title was the most significant (1 line).
  • Explain briefly what/when it was (1-2 lines)
  • Evidence (1-2 lines)
  • Analyse by considering the criteria outlined in the introduction i.e. successes/failures (5-6 lines)
  • Judgement/comparison to PIQ and link back to question (1-2 lines)

This paragraph should be about either the second most important OR the factor/event you think is most significant/important if it isn’t the factor included in the question. Don’t be afraid to argue this! One of the best reasons about History is there is no wrong answer to some extent (to what extent is there no wrong answer in history…okay I will stop 😉 ) but seriously, if you can back your point up with evidence and clear reasoning then you’ve got yourself a good essay. 

Conclusion

  • Answer the question (1 line)
  • Summarize [analysis/explanation] using criteria (1-2 lines)
  • Summarize significance of key points using criteria (3-5 lines)
  • Extent you think statement is true using criteria: “To a certain extent” “to a great extent” “To a minor extent”

That’s it! It’s a lot, I know. But don’t worry the more you practice, the better you will become.  Quickly, some  extra help for the exam:

  • aim for 4 points – better to have 4 well thought out, well analysed points that 7 hastily written and kinda sucky ones 
  • Prioritize the conclusion – if you’re running out of time and you’re not on your conclusion, move to your conclusion. It’s better to have a conclusion and a half written point than a point and no conclusion. Even if this means leaving a few lines to go back to, prioritize your conclusion.
  • Plan, Plan, PLAN – I don’t think I can stress this enough. Spending 5 minutes outlining your points, jotting down a few notes on evidence, analysis on links will save you time later in the exam but also stop you from straying from what the question is asking you. I know in an exam you want to start writing ASAP but taking a breather, finding where you stand can ensure you have SUSTAINED judgement all the way through (something examiners are looking for). And the more you practise the quicker you will be. It now takes me approximately 3 minutes to plan my answers in an exam.
  • Timings – finally, before I do anything in my exams I mark out next to each question when I need to stop and start the next question (I even mark out planning time). So it looks kinda like: Question 1: start plan: 9, start writing: 9:05, finish writing: 9:45. And begin process again. 

Anyway! Hope this helps guys, have a nice evening and I hope your mocks go well 🙂

Best Wishes, 

History A2 xx

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s