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IB History Essays

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    Hi all,

    I have some questions I'd like to clear up about the the Paper 2 and Paper 3 (HL only) history essays (on the new syllabus 2010+).

    - P2 is 45 minutes per essay and P3 is 50 mintues per essay, so how much should I be writing for each essay? How many pages are you guys writing?

    - In general, both P2 and P3 markschemes say they want "balanced answers" for [14-16 marks] but then "different interpretations" for [17+ marks], so my question is, for top marks, should your essay answer have a clear argument or not? And more importantly, what does it mean by "different interpretations"? Is this more like:
    a) General interpretations, ie: The arms race caused WW1/ the arms race delayed WW1... or
    b) More like histography, ie: Structuralism / Functionalism

    - Does the essay need 'official' interpretations, with historians names to go along with them?

    Thanks in advance!
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    what my history teacher told us we needed to to for the 17+ scores was to 'challenge the question', so if it was something like 'how did hitler gain total control of germany' to have a point questioning whether he actually did have total control. clear arguments and structure are always important, so definitely have these!

    we were also told not to drop in historiographical labels, like rather than saying this is the revisionist approach to take a historian's opinion individually and analyse that. so not really general interpretations or historiography labels, get into more specific examples. names dont hurt as long as you dont just list 100 historians too

    in terms of length, the longer the better - shorter essays do tend to score less highly because you do need more developed content to get the higher marks
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    Quality not quantity. Write concisely and make sure every paragraph relates back to the question. The above is spot on about challenging the question.

    In regards to 14-16/20 you need to have a clear overall argument that answers the question with a good level of detail.

    You will only get to 17+ when you have mastered the material to the extent that you can offer higher level arguments and precise evidence to back it up. Historiography is required in that you need to understand the different lines of argument - you don't have to pay lipservice however.

    PM me if you would like any help/advice
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    (Original post by Banishingboredom)
    Quality not quantity. Write concisely and make sure every paragraph relates back to the question. The above is spot on about challenging the question.
    This.

    I don't do the IB but, your answer needs to focus on the question, with your argument built around that (which would include challenging a certain claim with your background knowledge built into that to support your argument).

    Don't spend time writing factual bull shine which doesn't support your argument; the aim is not to tell a story of the period.
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    I wrote the least out of my class of 20+ in our History HL exams (I averaged, I think, four or five sides of lined paper per essay) and I got the highest mark.

    I don't mean to blow smoke up my ass, I wasn't any more capable than they were. I just focused more on going into detail about what I did write down instead of trying to write down everything I knew about the question.

    The best form of revising, IMO, is reading works by great historians. You don't even have to take notes. I was very lucky in that my history teacher gave me several excellent texts. Try asking yours to do the same.

    I'd say more, but it's been almost 6 months and I'm ashamed to say I've almost completely forgotten what I wrote about and how
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    (Original post by Doolally)
    what my history teacher told us we needed to to for the 17+ scores was to 'challenge the question', so if it was something like 'how did hitler gain total control of germany' to have a point questioning whether he actually did have total control. clear arguments and structure are always important, so definitely have these!

    we were also told not to drop in historiographical labels, like rather than saying this is the revisionist approach to take a historian's opinion individually and analyse that. so not really general interpretations or historiography labels, get into more specific examples. names dont hurt as long as you dont just list 100 historians too

    in terms of length, the longer the better - shorter essays do tend to score less highly because you do need more developed content to get the higher marks

    (Original post by Banishingboredom)
    Quality not quantity. Write concisely and make sure every paragraph relates back to the question. The above is spot on about challenging the question.

    In regards to 14-16/20 you need to have a clear overall argument that answers the question with a good level of detail.

    You will only get to 17+ when you have mastered the material to the extent that you can offer higher level arguments and precise evidence to back it up. Historiography is required in that you need to understand the different lines of argument - you don't have to pay lipservice however.

    PM me if you would like any help/advice
    I know I'm not OP, but on the point of challenging the question - if you challenge it and say i.e. Hitler did not actually have total control - then what do you answer? Do you stick to answering the original question? Or do you answer your revised version of it???? :| Thanks!
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    Hey,

    My teacher gave us some tips for the exams which may be of some use

    - in the reading time, if you have a chance, work out the timings and write them down when you can (eg. start 13:00, 2nd question 13:45) - and you can split times for introduction/middle/conclusion. - this is mostly helpful for paper 1 though (7 mins Q1a/b, 10mins Q2....)

    - you should spend no longer than 45 mins on each question ) and for paper 3 this gives you an extra 15 mins at the end in case you go over)

    - you should be able to make a concise plan in 2 mins - practise these multiple times with past papers

    - think about the question and if it says analyse, with reference, to what extent...

    - the majority of the time, questions can be answered chronologically (better structure than thematically, as you can progress from one paragraph to the next) -- especially applies to causes of war (1. longterm 2. short term 3. immediate)

    - have 5 paragraphs as a bare minimum with PEEL - Point Evidence Explain Link. use more than one example/evidence for each point if possible.

    - Write fast

    - Make sure you do some conclusion, even if its just 2 mins and a couple of sentences, there should be some conclusion to your essay

    - If your coming to the end of the 45 mins, leave lines if you think you can come back to it, scribble a rough conclusion, and start the next essay (with 2 min plan)

    - leave lines between written lines, as you can come back and add stuff if you think you'll have time.

    - make sure the question is answered in the conclusion. you should be able to read only the intro and concl. and get the answer to the question.

    - try and have at least one historian for each point you make in the essay.

    - make sure you answer the questions from different sections. you cannot answer 2 questions from the same section!

    - Start each question on a new side. - yes it destroys trees, but you can use as much as you want, and leaves room if you wanted to come back (if you have time) and add another paragraph/point. You can use asterisks - in the middle of an essay, put asterisk and then place the extension of a paragraph or a whole new paragraph after the conclusion (next to another asterisk).

    Following these you should have (depending how fast and large your handwriting is) 6 or 7 sides for each essay.
    -- Practice exams, class averages 15 sides for 2 questions.




    (Original post by DaitaG)
    I know I'm not OP, but on the point of challenging the question - if you challenge it and say i.e. Hitler did not actually have total control - then what do you answer? Do you stick to answering the original question? Or do you answer your revised version of it???? :| Thanks!
    I would make sure you answer the question. Assuming the question was somewhere along the lines of "hitler had total control". Go through trying to answer the question, but give your conclusion (after each point) saying that he didn't. you have to give both sides for a balanced argument anyways, but if there is more evidence pointing towards your opinion, then say that. If the question says "analyse" I would only give your opinion in the summation of the evidence, so in the final conclusion, other wise try and infer your point across the whole essay I'd say. -- as long as your essay answers the question you chose. (read the intro and conclusion, does it answer the title question?)
    That's my opinion anyways

    And Good Luck people
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    (Original post by DaitaG)
    I know I'm not OP, but on the point of challenging the question - if you challenge it and say i.e. Hitler did not actually have total control - then what do you answer? Do you stick to answering the original question? Or do you answer your revised version of it???? :| Thanks!
    You need to be subtle about it. For this question I'd look into what "total control"actually meant - did he win the hearts and minds of the whole population, was he unopposed in parliament, did he control the church etc.?

    There's lots of areas where you can be clever and argue no - for example co-operated with the Church and established his cause as a Christian cause. You can bring in the night of the long knives and death camps for political opponents and the way the German people were happy to follow his polcies of antisemitism. At the same time you could look at the economy and unemployment which was apparently reduced to zero, but in fact was rather glossed over and instead propaganda.

    Personally I'd be cheeky and say while he didn't totally have control he had set a process in place - the Hitler Youth; the creation of German companies for the purpose of autarky; genetic programs to create perfect aryan males - so that in the future his control over the country and his people would be total.

    You basically use the question as a spring board to argue for or against smaller subquestions, then in your conclusion you assess the weight of each side - in this case for and against him having total control.

    If you give me some other examples of questions I'll tell you how I'd tackle them. Hope this helps
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    (Original post by Banishingboredom)
    You need to be subtle about it. For this question I'd look into what "total control"actually meant - did he win the hearts and minds of the whole population, was he unopposed in parliament, did he control the church etc.?

    There's lots of areas where you can be clever and argue no - for example co-operated with the Church and established his cause as a Christian cause. You can bring in the night of the long knives and death camps for political opponents and the way the German people were happy to follow his polcies of antisemitism. At the same time you could look at the economy and unemployment which was apparently reduced to zero, but in fact was rather glossed over and instead propaganda.

    Personally I'd be cheeky and say while he didn't totally have control he had set a process in place - the Hitler Youth; the creation of German companies for the purpose of autarky; genetic programs to create perfect aryan males - so that in the future his control over the country and his people would be total.

    You basically use the question as a spring board to argue for or against smaller subquestions, then in your conclusion you assess the weight of each side - in this case for and against him having total control.

    If you give me some other examples of questions I'll tell you how I'd tackle them. Hope this helps
    Thank you! I just need one last bit of clarification, sorry for how silly I sound Would you challenge the question in the introduction? And also throughout your essay, would you refer to the challenge you posed to the question? Or just answer the original question and then address your question-challenge in the conclusion?

    In terms of other questions, do you think there is a way to challenge the question with something like : Analyse the rise to power of one right wing ruler in a single party state - (referring to Hitler)?

    THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH!
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    (Original post by StephMusic)
    Hey,

    My teacher gave us some tips for the exams which may be of some use

    - in the reading time, if you have a chance, work out the timings and write them down when you can (eg. start 13:00, 2nd question 13:45) - and you can split times for introduction/middle/conclusion. - this is mostly helpful for paper 1 though (7 mins Q1a/b, 10mins Q2....)

    - you should spend no longer than 45 mins on each question ) and for paper 3 this gives you an extra 15 mins at the end in case you go over)

    - you should be able to make a concise plan in 2 mins - practise these multiple times with past papers

    - think about the question and if it says analyse, with reference, to what extent...

    - the majority of the time, questions can be answered chronologically (better structure than thematically, as you can progress from one paragraph to the next) -- especially applies to causes of war (1. longterm 2. short term 3. immediate)

    - have 5 paragraphs as a bare minimum with PEEL - Point Evidence Explain Link. use more than one example/evidence for each point if possible.

    - Write fast

    - Make sure you do some conclusion, even if its just 2 mins and a couple of sentences, there should be some conclusion to your essay

    - If your coming to the end of the 45 mins, leave lines if you think you can come back to it, scribble a rough conclusion, and start the next essay (with 2 min plan)

    - leave lines between written lines, as you can come back and add stuff if you think you'll have time.

    - make sure the question is answered in the conclusion. you should be able to read only the intro and concl. and get the answer to the question.

    - try and have at least one historian for each point you make in the essay.

    - make sure you answer the questions from different sections. you cannot answer 2 questions from the same section!

    - Start each question on a new side. - yes it destroys trees, but you can use as much as you want, and leaves room if you wanted to come back (if you have time) and add another paragraph/point. You can use asterisks - in the middle of an essay, put asterisk and then place the extension of a paragraph or a whole new paragraph after the conclusion (next to another asterisk).

    Following these you should have (depending how fast and large your handwriting is) 6 or 7 sides for each essay.
    -- Practice exams, class averages 15 sides for 2 questions.






    I would make sure you answer the question. Assuming the question was somewhere along the lines of "hitler had total control". Go through trying to answer the question, but give your conclusion (after each point) saying that he didn't. you have to give both sides for a balanced argument anyways, but if there is more evidence pointing towards your opinion, then say that. If the question says "analyse" I would only give your opinion in the summation of the evidence, so in the final conclusion, other wise try and infer your point across the whole essay I'd say. -- as long as your essay answers the question you chose. (read the intro and conclusion, does it answer the title question?)
    That's my opinion anyways

    And Good Luck people
    Thank you very much! So for example you would say actually Hitler didn't have total control, this is the control he did have (blah blah blah) but in actual fact it was not total control because (blah blah blah).

    and that would still count as ATQ? Thanks!
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    (Original post by DaitaG)
    Thank you! I just need one last bit of clarification, sorry for how silly I sound Would you challenge the question in the introduction? And also throughout your essay, would you refer to the challenge you posed to the question? Or just answer the original question and then address your question-challenge in the conclusion?

    In terms of other questions, do you think there is a way to challenge the question with something like : Analyse the rise to power of one right wing ruler in a single party state - (referring to Hitler)?

    THANK YOU VERY VERY MUCH!
    Not silly at all, good question. We were taught to always start with the end scenario of the question to introduce the topic. So for example you'd say by 1934 Hitler had established himself as dictator and fuhrer etc. You then give some background as to the methods in which he came to power. You don't have to immediately dissent against the question I'd say. You do that later in the essay at various points as you argue through. Every paragraph should relate back to the question remember, so that can be a good place to do it. It's harder to do with analyse and compare and contrast questions obviously, but when they give you a provocative statement with only one side of the argument you can really go for it.

    The best way I suggest to think about it is to take a subject that you know really really well - whatever your passion is. For me it was easy because I love football and there are loads of parallels between the way I argue about that and how I argued about Mussolini or whatever in the History.
    Let me give you a really stupid example (sorry drifting a bit here):
    "Barcelona's failure to beat Chelsea was due to Lionel Messi's poor performance".

    An example in this case of arguing with the question would be to state a case for Messi not actually playing that badly - and here the use of statistics and detail comes in -drawing attention to the number of times he hit the post, pass completion etc. Another way of doing it would be to say Messi played well, but it was the ultra defensive and superbly disciplined tactical performance of the opposition etc.

    If you got a question saying that Hitler's accession to power was due to the weakness of Weimar or whatever then you go about it in the same way. Just use whatever leverage you have to build a case against the question even if you agree. You don't have to have it central to your argument and you can discount it at the end but it shows the examiner you can think critically.

    My favourite topics were on German and Italian unifications and the reforms of Alexander II because there were so many arguments which meant you could have a real scrap with the question.

    Sorry that was rambling and I somehow started talking about Barcelona, but hopefully that makes sense.
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    (Original post by DaitaG)
    I know I'm not OP, but on the point of challenging the question - if you challenge it and say i.e. Hitler did not actually have total control - then what do you answer? Do you stick to answering the original question? Or do you answer your revised version of it???? :| Thanks!
    of course, going off the Hitler example (today's the anniversary of his suicide as well!) you'd lay out in your introduction that Hitler used x y z to gain and maintain control, but because of a b c this control wasn't total and instead laid the foundations for the decline of the third reich or whatever your argument is. Then for the main body of the essay you examine the factors and forces that he manipulated for control, which would be the standard content of most people's essays, but you have a part following that where you examine how and why control wasn't total, before summing up your argument and basking in the glory of your impending level 7!
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    Wow, thank you so much for the answers! So useful... I have my history exams next week. Sometimes I'll just scrape into the 14-16 band, but never 17+ so I'd really like to see an essay that is 17+ or a comfortable 14-16. Does anyone have an high level essay, maybe one you typed that you could send me? I'd be very very very very grateful!
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    I have my standard history exam next week coupled with higher physics, higher chemistry and higher maths. Paper 2 is kind of worrying me at the moment. Not the Cold War since I love it. But Causes, Practices and Effects. It's just so dull. I've done some prep, but not exactly enough I guess. So, this weekend is History weekend. I was wondering how you would remember all the dates for the different post war treaties/conferences. Does taking loooooooooads of notes help? Thanks.
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    (Original post by johndoe04)
    I have my standard history exam next week coupled with higher physics, higher chemistry and higher maths. Paper 2 is kind of worrying me at the moment. Not the Cold War since I love it. But Causes, Practices and Effects. It's just so dull. I've done some prep, but not exactly enough I guess. So, this weekend is History weekend. I was wondering how you would remember all the dates for the different post war treaties/conferences. Does taking loooooooooads of notes help? Thanks.
    Same (minus Chemistry) ... you could try flash cards. - Write a war on one side, and the dates on the other, and also any key events within it. So you can test yourself with guessing the wars/events from certain years or the years of the wars/events.
    Or try creating a timeline? making it by hand, with more effort, might make it more memorable than one off the internet/books.

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