How Much Of A Level History Is Based On Essays?

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A level history is one of the classic essay subjects, but how much of it is actually based on essays? The truth is the majority of it is based on the examiners grading you on the strength of your essays – your hand will certainly be hurting after writing essay after essay in each exam! If you’re not a strong essay writer, you may want to avoid this subject, but let’s discuss it in more detail.


For a lot of A level history courses, coursework accounts for around a quarter of for final grade. Indeed, you do have to write an essay for your piece of coursework, but it isn’t in time-sensitive conditions, and your teacher can offer you advice on how to improve it before you actually submit it.

This may appeal to students who struggle with the pressure of exams and like taking their time with writing their essays. This essay will include references to historians’ views and will be the only essay that you’ll have to do extensive research on.

The exam

Although the exams vary depending on what era of history you are studying, the exam is largely essay based at A level. Some questions may be bigger than others, but the examiner is certainly after an explanation-based answer for every single question.

A lot of history is memorising facts and being able to apply this knowledge in an essay, so being able to write a strong, written piece is key to getting the best grade possible. The examiner wants to see that you can apply your own knowledge, form a constructive and logical argument, and explain this concerning the context of the time.

Essays should be clear, coherent, and have excellent punctuation and grammar, and those heavier essays will have the most marks up for grabs. Having online history tuition can help you master the technique of essay writing for an hisotry exam.

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Other aspects of history

It can be argued that history isn’t all about essay writing, although it pretty much dominates this subject at A level. Analysing sources is also very crucial to getting a good grade. In some exams, you will be given sources and will be expected to analyse them, apply your own knowledge to them, and consider the source’s relevance.

Furthermore, communication skills may be important in A level history as, depending on your teacher, you will be often asked to discuss things in groups to come up with a final judgement on a topic. As mentioned above, researching the histography of a certain subject will be important to gain a more detailed understanding of the area of history you are looking at, and forming your own arguments and judgements is also pretty crucial.

All in all, as much as you wish history A level was a memory test on all the historical facts, this subject is dominated by essays and you will be marked on the strength of these written pieces. History is about how you apply this historical knowledge to explanations and final judgements, meaning that essays are crucial to this subject to execute a clear and substantial answer.

If you, or your parents would like to find out more, please just get in touch via email at or call us on 0800 689 1272.

If you, or your parents would like to find out more, please just get in touch via email at or call us on 0800 689 1272