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20 Mark History Essays

Re: AS History essay structure help



J'adore345,

Structuring an exam answer is fairly straightforward. Here's the easiest way to do it:

1. Read the question. Might sound like obvious advice, but its amazing how many exam candidates fail in this respect. Read the question, think about the question. Ask yourself: 'What is the question about? What does the examiner want to read?' If need be, re-write the question and break it down into as many component parts as possible. Take the time to do this. Now, rewrite the question onto your answer script - this is the first sentence of your answer.

2. Once you've cracked the question, you need to answer it. Ask yourself 'what is the shortest answer to this question?' The shortest answer that you can think of is your second sentence.

3. BUT ... you need to justify this sentence. You need (for exam purposes) at least three good points to back it up. Summarise the these points into a paragraph and tag it onto the first two sentences that you already have. Congratulations, you've answered the question and already have your introduction.

4. Now the easy part: for each of your main points, wirte one paragraph that analyses (remembering to include definitions, translations, contextualisation etc. where necessary) that point. The first sentence of each paragraph will be a restatement of the point as you wrote it in your introduction (verbatim is fine). Remember to take care to examine all the important sub-points within the main point. One point, one paragraph.

5. Your conclusion should be a repetition of your introduction. It might be useful to add a little new material, but generally, you should simply note that you have touched all the bases in answering the question. Make sure it ties in with you introduction.

This is a workaday method. It covers you and keeps the marker happy by telling them what they are going to read BEFORE they read it.

However, you should note that there is no clear method worth a sob that will get you good marks without you having done the work. If you want to write good exam answers you have to know the subject. It's really that simple.

 
  1. I've just started Year 12 and A levels are already seeming impossible to do. I got an A for history in my GCSEs so i decided I would pick it up again as an A level course. Trouble is, I'm finding it difficult in writing/structuring my essay.
    Any tips?
    Thank you (:

  2. Well it probably depends on the essay title. Of course there the basic consistent elements like introduction, followed by a main chunk arguing certain points and using evidence (be it specific and factual or a historical quote/opinion) to support them, then a "verdict" and conclusion. Not to mention different sides of the argument preferably shown, if it's something like "Do you agree with this" or "To what extent is this true"



    Last edited by math42; 21-09-2015 at 20:13.
  3. An essay structure should flow logically. There's no witchcraft to it, but neither is there a perfect structure which you have to use every time. In short, as long as it works, you're golden.

    I disagree that you should have a 'verdict' at the end. It would make the preceding parts of your essay directionless or superfluous. Instead, I suggest that your answer should unfold throughout the course of the essay.

    (Original post by MaiyaWilliams)
    I've just started Year 12 and A levels are already seeming impossible to do. I got an A for history in my GCSEs so i decided I would pick it up again as an A level course. Trouble is, I'm finding it difficult in writing/structuring my essay.
    Any tips?
    Thank you (: