Could this post be the definitive answer to improve your History essay writing?
‘History Essay Writing Made Easy’ is a guest post written by a student studying History at ‘A’ Level. Hopefully, the information shared will help someone struggling to write essays.
The difference between writing History essay at ‘A’ level and ‘O’ Level?
While at an ordinary level you may get away with narrating events, 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. Meaning, writing your history essay is not a matter of reproducing everything that you know about the given topic or question. Instead, you need to 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 helps you not to go off topic but to remain within the confines of your 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?
Definition of history
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?
Planning is the central or the most important part of essay writing. 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 having a plan in place you are now ready to go. The starting point is to assess the demands of the 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 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 causing 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. It will also demonstrate 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 your u have made a judgment.
Your first paragraph should have your strongest argument and this will 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 an idea 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
The body part of your essay is where you prove your case. You will write paragraphs of information to support your case. Every paragraph should make reference to the keywords in the question.
Along with this, you will need to evaluate and this will be done through words like ‘This is significant’ or ‘This suggests’. By doing this it will inadvertently lead you towards evaluation your judgment through chains of analysis. This can be done by using words like ‘therefore’ ‘as a result’ and ‘hence.’
Avoid narrating events instead of making an argument. Only include factual information that is in support of your argument. You have already identified the keywords in the question – now is the time to use them.
Every paragraph must have a supporting fact and this should refer in some way 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 are 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 from a wide breadth 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 of the huge demands of History as a subject which needs a great focus on specific contextual knowledge. When you use this for your essay, it will allow you to back up your argument and be able to access the higher grades.
Some people fail because of not reading the question properly to be able to address what the question is asking of them.
To prevent failure it’s important to prepare.
- By going over past exam papers (doing revision).
- Learning specific contextual knowledge.
- Reading the question until you grasp it.
- Highlighting the keywords during the exam.
When you apply all the things listed, it will give you the best chance of success. And remember it is never too late to act.
In your conclusion, you need to ultimately do the same things you have done in the introduction. An introduction and the conclusion should be symmetrical.
This will help you keep your conclusion to a high level. You can also include examples that will further 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.