How to write an A-Level History Essay

Hi guys! So I haven’t updated in a while and the way I have structured my revision means I may not for a little while longer. So in my free time I have decided to write a some posts that will hopefully help you all during your studies. 

How to write an essay. 

A-Level history is a lot more demanding than GCSE and to get high grades you have to be able to write a good essay. Effectively (and from personal experience), this means there are four things to a good essay: 

  1. Knowledge. This one is pretty basic, at the end of the day, you need to know your stuff. You won’t be penalized because you spelt “transformismo” wrong but not knowing when the second world war started (1939 – in case you weren’t sure 😉 ) that might effect how the examiner percieves your essay. 
  2. Structure. Your essay needs to flow, not just in the fluency of your language (so 1  complex sentence instead of 3 simple sentence) but also your points. You need an introduction and a conclusion, but between these your points need to flow between each other, try and find links between points and use that as a basis to your plan . In terms of individual paragraph structure, PECAL is the best way to do it. Point, Evidence,Context (I’ve added this, teachers have always told me to add context or a breif explanation about your point and evidence), Analysis, Link (back to the question). Sticking to this ensure you cover everything you need for a good essay. I will cover this in more detail in later posts.
  3. Analysis – So you’ve P-ed – you’ve crafted the perfect topic sentence to tell the examiner your point, you’ve explained (context) and got some evidence in there. That’s great, that’s your knowledge. Check. A* GCSE, C A-Level. TO get a higher mark at A-Level you need to Analyse. Why? So what? Why was the SA a key reason Hitler came to power? So what effect did the Role of the king have in Mussolini becoming Prime Minister? Why is that important? Your analysis is key. For a personal example, In my most recent mocks, December 2016, I achieved full marks in my Tudor essays in terms of Knowledge (yay!) but barely any for analysis (*sad face*) resulting in 12/20 and 13/20 marks and an overall C grade – honestly, was shocked and upset. But now, I know the importance of analysis.
  4. Introduction and Conclusion. I originally wasn’t going to include this but a lot of people overlook the importance of both of these. These two paragraphs will set and complete your essay. Examiners will often predict and make those vital assumptions on how the rest of your essay will be based on your introduction. Frankly, if your intro sucks they will take that sucky feeling with them whilst reading the rest. I don’t want to scare you! I will write another posts specifically for introductions. But never overlook the intro. Same with the conclusion. In an exam where your judgement and analysis is very important, the conclusion, where you are summing up your judgement and analysis is the last thing the examiner will read before giving your mark. You want them to know your opinion, know your reasons and know WHY. Again, we will cover this in a later post. 

So, there are the four basics for a good essay. 

I think I will do posts for different types of A-Level essay questions so if you have a style that I don’t cover, drop a comment and I’ll hop right on it. 

I hope this helps, please leave a comment if you need any help. 

Thanks guys, have a great day!

HistoryA2 xx


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