Could this post be the definitive answer to improve your History essay writing?
Introduction: ‘History Essay Writing Made Easy’ is a guest post written by a student studying History at ‘A’ Level. Hopefully, information shared will help someone struggling to write essays.
History is the study of past events of a particular period or country that are considered together. Knowing the time frame is key as well as how you are going to write. Are you going to use a chronological order of times?
At ‘O’ level you may get away with narrating events but at ‘A’ Level you must change your writing approach.
At this stage, you need to go deeper in answering the question to show your clear line of argument which is fully substantiated by facts.
Students at an advanced level are expected to write essays that reflect a set of certain skills.
Writing your history essay is not a matter of reproducing everything that you know about a given topic or question.
Instead, apply the following techniques.
Read the question
It may sound obvious that every student reads the question first. To be 100% sure you have understood the question read it more than just once.
This will help you avoid going off-topic and to remain within the confines of the question.
Examine the question
The next important thing you must do without fail is to examine the topic.
A few questions should go through your mind at this point.
What were the motives that influenced events? What are the keywords? What is the time frame or period you need to focus on?
Planning is the central or the most important part of essay writing because the whole process of writing an essay starts with a plan.
This is where you decide what approach to use for answering the question.
Once you have a good plan in place you know exactly how to put your answer across. Everything you write down as part of your plan must be answering the question.
Now that you now have a plan, what next?
You are now ready to go the moment you have a plan in place. The starting point is to assess the demands of your question so that you can pick a side for your argument.
Having a strong introduction is key. It makes you focus on issues that need addressing in your essay.
You may want to start off with an interesting quote to show you have complete mastery of the subject.
Also, to prove that you understand the issues at stake and that you will be dealing with them thoroughly.
Having said that, the quote must be accurate and properly-referenced.
When you choose to use this type of introduction, it has the potential of grabbing your readers’ attention and cause them to want to know more.
Your introduction must be convincing to show that you know what you are talking about.
This is specifically applicable to a history essay since this will show the examiner you are confident dealing with the question at hand.
Also, it demonstrates your understanding of the subject.
- Show the examiner the themes (topics) you will be covering in your essay. This will add clarity to your argument and show the examiner you have made a judgement.
- Your first paragraph should have your strongest argument to set the tone for the rest of your essay.
- In your introduction, you may want to lead your argument with a signpost. This will give your examiner a clue of what you are going to argue about.
- Most importantly, you need to back this up with some specific evidence. For example ‘ King Henry VII was largely successful in achieving his dynastic objectives of producing a male heir.’
- With this sign post-sentence, you will need to add some specific evidence like in ‘1486 his first son Author was born’. This backs up the sign post-sentence and strengthens your argument further.
The main body is where you prove your case. Every paragraph should make reference to the keywords in your question.
At the same time, you need to evaluate and you do this through words like ‘This is significant’ or ‘This suggests’.
This will inadvertently lead you to evaluate your judgement through chains of analysis.
You do it by using words like ‘therefore’ ‘as a result’ and ‘hence.’
Avoid narrating events instead of making an argument.
Only include factual information to support your argument.
At this stage you have already identified the keywords in the question – now is the time to use them.
Every paragraph must have a supporting fact. This should somehow refer to the keywords otherwise it will be treated as irrelevant.
Avoid writing a History essay only consisting of arguments that are not supported (unsubstantiated claims). Support everything you say with a backing fact or an example.
The balance between analysis and supporting detail is what writing essays at an advanced level is all about.
Do a lot of practice and work closely with your tutor to make sure you have grasped the writing style.
Why do some people fail?
Some people fail due to lack of adequate preparations.
History requires a large amount of attention to a wide breadth of study that may cover over 100 years.
Most ‘A” level History students struggle with writing essays. Although they may have full knowledge of all the events and have the information at the tips of their fingers, the majority tend to give a mere narration of events.
Not totally oblivious to the huge demands of History as a subject which needs a great deal of focus on specific contextual knowledge.
When you use this for your essay, it will allow you to back your argument and be able to access the higher grades.
Some people fail because they do not read the question properly in order to address the question i.e.what is being asked of them.
Preparation Is The Answer
Applying all the things I’ve mentioned will give you the best chance to succeed. Also, remember it is never too late to act.
In your conclusion, do the same things you have done in the introduction. Your introduction and the conclusion should be symmetrical.
This will help you keep your conclusion at a high level. You can also include examples that will further support your argument and allow you to further impress the examiner.
If you have any questions in relation to History Essay Writing Made Easy, please leave them below, I will come back to you as soon as possible.