How To Write An A level History Essay
Writing good history essays rely on several things, but the main things that come to mind are remembering key facts and getting your timing right. In an ideal world, you’d have hours and hours to think over the question, sprawl the facts across the page, and explain your points in detail without rushing.
Unfortunately, with most cases in essay subjects, history usually has time-sensitive exams. So how can you combat this whilst also getting the best grade? Let’s find out!
Read the question carefully
Even though you’re writing against the clock, you must always read the question carefully to know what the examiner is really asking you.
Underlining or highlighting the keywords in the question may be helpful, especially for visual learners. List out the key points or key facts that you think may relate to the question so that you don’t have to try and remember your facts and knowledge later on in the essay – getting everything down on the exam paper at the start in note-form can create relief.
Structuring the introduction
A strong introduction is vital for a good grade, with it being the first impression that an examiner gets of you. You’ll need to give a clear, coherent answer to the essay question within the first sentence of your introduction to give the examiner a clear idea of your judgement and how your essay is going to play out. You can get expert help with this by taking up regular online history tuition. After giving a judgement, you’ll want to list the factors you’re going to talk about in your essay, which will most likely be the focus of each paragraph.
Because of timing, students commonly focus on two or three factors concerning the question. Give a little explanation of why each of these factors is relevant to the essay question before linking back to the question and reminding the examiner of your final judgement.
The main paragraphs
There are different types of essay in history, including the standard essay as well as the thematic essay – in which you usually compare and contrast different points. For the standard essay, the most common written piece, you’ll need to do several things for your main paragraphs.
Focusing on one factor at a time, you should always link back to the question and give a judgement, much like in the introduction. Then you’ll want to include a point, evidence, explain structure, in which you’ll make a statement, prove this statement with a fact (which you will have to have memorised unless a written source is provided), and explain why this is relevant. Including your own knowledge is key to getting better grades in history, making revision absolutely essential.
You may be running short on time at this point, but conclusions should still be strong to earn your high grade. Reinforce your judgement and why you’re arguing this, and go over why the factors you have chosen are relevant to your answer. Perhaps make a judgement on which factor is most relevant and give a final link back to the question.
All of this can sometimes be challenging to fit into a specific time frame, but you have to be brutal with yourself. Perhaps reduce your number of factors from three to two if you realise that you’re struggling with time.
Keep your explanations tight and concise instead of waffly – you only usually need a couple of lines of explanation. And finally, the most useful tip for this would be to practice. Practice can not only make you write essays of better quality and help you remember your knowledge, but it will also help you write faster. Hopefully, this will help you with your history essay writing!