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    I've never really grasped history like I have my other subjects. I'm not bad at it in exam terms but getting there is like pulling teeth and all the imagination and fun is taken out of it and I'm always just scraping average and I'm not pleased with some of the work I hand in.

    The essay writing itself is not exactly a problem, I can structure one pretty eficiently, I think if my other weaknesses were sorted out, that would fall into place.

    I've tried to identify my problems from some of my old essays. I seem to struggle covering a typical A level question in terms of detail. Some of them are so broad, they just skim over the facts with no or very little analysis and some of them are so detailed they focus only on one tiny aspect and all relevance is lost. In such cases, it doesn't even seem like a history essay.

    I also have difficulty finding a thread throughout the essay. There seems to be no continuous argument or overall point of the essay and they always seem very fomulaic and generic.

    My main problem is my inability to analyse information. I'm not even sure what it means in history, no one has managed to give me a satisfactory definition so far. My attempts are so ridiculous, sometimes I resort to analysing the language used in the quote and reading way too much into it.

    I have very few of my own ideas when it comes to writing essays and my most succesful work is when I've regurgitated the ideas/arguments of something else. I realise that it's hard to come up with something totally original but I've never managed to give it a personal take. Sometimes I don't even understand what I'm writing about.

    I think part of the problem is that I don't really read as much around it as I should which I've started doing, reading more papers, watching more history documentaries. Also, my teacher since GCSE was aweful and didn't teach at all so we were left to do it ourselves. But that can't be all of it because all the other kids in my class were in exactly the same situation and they managed.

    I really want to improve this summer because I'm applying to uni in autumn for Classics so I need to be up to scratch by then.

    Any tips (if you've read all that!)

    Is there a teacher that you can sit down and go through your essays with? I think doing that and then doing as many questions as possible to help it fall into place could help.

    As for analysing the information, try to be really... I can't think of the word, but suspicious? As in who wrote it, why would they write that, is it public or private, do they have a reason to lie, when was it written. Use own knowledge to back these questions up. E.g. Person Person wrote source A in 1933 about the Nazi regime. This is early in the Nazi regime, X, Y and Z haven't happened yet that could change what is written here. For historians, cross referencing with the other sources and using own knowledge is what I do.
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Updated: February 12, 2010
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