A-level History exams and revision: AQA explains what you need to do
To help you make the most of your remaining revision time, we’ve worked with exam board AQA to create a series of exam advice articles.
In each of these features, you’ll find advice and easy-to-follow tips written by one of AQA’s subject matter experts.
Read on to get the inside track on A-level History, direct from the people who make the exams.
- Aim to spend roughly an hour on the extract (paper 1) and source (paper 2) questions.
- It’s important to give equal time to the evaluation of all three extracts or sources.
- Aim to spend around 45 minutes on each of the essay questions.
Planning and preparing responses
- Make sure you read the essay questions really carefully, paying close attention to start and end dates. Briefly plan your answer before putting pen to paper.
- It’s really important that you take your time to read the whole extract or source before answering the question. Weaker answers show little evidence that the extract/source has been read in full, and may miss the point entirely or focus on areas that aren’t relevant to the question.
Approaches to the exam questions
- The best responses to the essay questions set out and sustain a balanced argument, using relevant knowledge and understanding to support the points made, leading to a judgement that answers the question.
- The most effective approach to the extract and source questions is to evaluate each of the three extracts or sources in turn:
- For the extract question on paper 1, you should identify the argument(s) and evaluate their strengths and limitations using relevant knowledge and understanding, leading to a judgement about how convincing each extract is about the issue in the question.
- For the source question on paper 2 remember that the value of a source changes depending on the question being asked. So, focus on the value (and limitations) of the sources for the issue in the question, using the content, provenance, and - where appropriate - the tone of each source in relation to the question set. Use your knowledge and understanding to support your evaluation.
- When evaluating limitations in the extracts and sources, students are often more successful when they use their knowledge and understanding to challenge what’s said in the extracts or sources, rather than focusing on what’s left out.
- Unlike the essay question, introductions and conclusions at the start and end of extract and source responses often don’t add anything and can waste valuable time in the exam. Remember, you don’t need to evaluate which extract or source is most convincing or most valuable.
More A-level History help on TSR
Good luck from AQA
AQA believes everyone has the potential to achieve, and we make sure our qualifications give all students the opportunity to show what they can do and progress to the next stage of their lives.
Our subject experts worked with The Student Room so we can reach as many students as possible with advice on how to approach your revision and exams. We wish you well in the weeks ahead, and don’t forget to look after yourselves too: eat well, sleep well and tell someone how you’re feeling if there are days when things don’t go so well or you don’t feel so good.