Help with essay writing in A level History! Watch

stateofdreaming
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I really liked GCSE History and because I got an A* in it, I took it for AS Level. However, I haven't really been adjusting well to the essay writing. I don't entirely understand how to structure the essay in terms of what actually goes into each paragraph. I understand that you need to develop analytical responses whilst having explicit understanding with relevant evidence but it's really difficult to put this all into a paragraph. Also, I get really distracted and it normally takes me ages to write a history essay whereas everyone else completes it within 1 hour.

Ah, I'm doing Edexcel AS History and the units are: Scramble for Africa and Britain and the American Colonies 1740-1769. Can anyone help me with the content in this as well?

I know it's a lot to ask but thank you!
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Mirandaandcake
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I am also with Edexcel for A2 - however I'm doing Medieval History. I may be able to help on a few things.
Firstly, the most important difference between GCSE and A Level History is that you are negatively marked for any irrelevant information - therefore try to make sure that your essay is tightly argued and is focused.
Moreover, at the beginning of AS , I fell into the trap of trying to include everything related to the topic and many examples, this was a major pitfall- try and avoid this. Rather, you are better of including a few relevant examples and focusing on your analysis.
A good structure to use is Point, Evidence, Explain and LINK. Linking your arguments will get you the higher grades.
Finally make sure you always refer back to the question so you keep your essay cogent.
With regards to timing issues, at this point of the year don't worry too much about spending more time. I too was like this. But, I promise with practice, it will become second nature! Perhaps you can slowly start setting yourself time limits when completing essays at home, and eventually build up to the time required for your exams.
I hope this all helps ! And like I said, at this time of the year don't worry too much (assuming you don't have any January exams!!)
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Sannn
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Building up both sides of an argument then demolishing them through further points is pretty key to scoring top marks, my Hist teacher said.
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stateofdreaming
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(Original post by Mirandaandcake)
I am also with Edexcel for A2 - however I'm doing Medieval History. I may be able to help on a few things.
Firstly, the most important difference between GCSE and A Level History is that you are negatively marked for any irrelevant information - therefore try to make sure that your essay is tightly argued and is focused.
Moreover, at the beginning of AS , I fell into the trap of trying to include everything related to the topic and many examples, this was a major pitfall- try and avoid this. Rather, you are better of including a few relevant examples and focusing on your analysis.
A good structure to use is Point, Evidence, Explain and LINK. Linking your arguments will get you the higher grades.
Finally make sure you always refer back to the question so you keep your essay cogent.
With regards to timing issues, at this point of the year don't worry too much about spending more time. I too was like this. But, I promise with practice, it will become second nature! Perhaps you can slowly start setting yourself time limits when completing essays at home, and eventually build up to the time required for your exams.
I hope this all helps ! And like I said, at this time of the year don't worry too much (assuming you don't have any January exams!!)
Thank you! I do have January exams so I'm really nervous about getting the structure and timing correct. I understand that I have to link my points after explaining it but it's a bit hard without giving irrelevant detail beforehand. I'm definitely struggling to link relevant points together based on evidence. Would you say that I have to link at least two factors or every factor to each other in each paragraph? Ah, but thank you so much!

(Original post by Sannn)
Building up both sides of an argument then demolishing them through further points is pretty key to scoring top marks, my Hist teacher said.
So it's perfectly okay to contradict the first point I make. Ah, thank you. I was unsure as to whether or not I'd be marked down for not being consistent with my argument being for/against.
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Sannn
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(Original post by stateofdreaming)

So it's perfectly okay to contradict the first point I make. Ah, thank you. I was unsure as to whether or not I'd be marked down for not being consistent with my argument being for/against.
Yes, contradiction shows that you've assessed both sides of the argument. Key for the top marks
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Maicccccmannnn
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it's pretty key to include meta game in your conclusion aswell
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stateofdreaming
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Okay thank you! I'll try and build both sides or the argument whilst analysing them as well as I can. Hopefully I'll be able to improve my writing technique with this advice! Oh and in the conclusion, would I just be summarising my points made before. Sometimes I try to assess which factor is the most important but I feel like I'm being too analytical.
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Ndella
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I had exactly the same problem as you when I did my history essay last week, I have history tomorrow and I'm pretty sure I wont get a pass mark since I was completely confused as to what to write in the essay without being too descriptive
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stateofdreaming
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(Original post by Ndella)
I had exactly the same problem as you when I did my history essay last week, I have history tomorrow and I'm pretty sure I wont get a pass mark since I was completely confused as to what to write in the essay without being too descriptive
Don't worry! You can do this! I'm feeling all motivated and I'm hoping that practicing more will ensure that I stop being far too descriptive yet show that I have explicit understanding of the content and question. Don't worry, there's always people to help and I'm sure you'll be fine!
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Sannn
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(Original post by stateofdreaming)
Okay thank you! I'll try and build both sides or the argument whilst analysing them as well as I can. Hopefully I'll be able to improve my writing technique with this advice! Oh and in the conclusion, would I just be summarising my points made before. Sometimes I try to assess which factor is the most important but I feel like I'm being too analytical.
In the conclusion, what I used to do was summarise my strongest point, with a brief outline of the opposing perspective. Came out with an A for the knowledge paper

Don't worry if you do badly at the start. At first I was getting 16/30 then by March I was hitting 27+ It's a gradual improvement, don't fret!
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Ndella
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(Original post by stateofdreaming)
Don't worry! You can do this! I'm feeling all motivated and I'm hoping that practicing more will ensure that I stop being far too descriptive yet show that I have explicit understanding of the content and question. Don't worry, there's always people to help and I'm sure you'll be fine!
Thanks for the encouragement, I got it today and I got a D , but I was 3 marks off a C, mabye if I was more organised in the essay I would have got a better marks. It's only the first essay so I can improve
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Muppetmad
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I did Edexcel AS History last year (although different topics). It's tough getting used to the technique, but one of my top tips to gaining a few extra marks is to refer to the interrelation of the various factors you discuss. Don't worry about it sounding a little clunky, just get it in there - anything along the lines of "Factor W is also significant in issue Y, and relates to factor X in way Z" will do. People often look at the different factors on a given question in a detached way; the examiner will like it if you can show that these factors are not rigidly defined but fluid and interconnected. For example, to use an example I used last year for my essay paper on Lutheranism, Luther's ideas and the emerging German "nationalism" (although this phrase is anachronistic) are not separate entities which independently led to the thriving of Lutheranism but were mutually dependent: the Lutheran movement could not have occurred without the people's support, but still required Luther to propose those ideas to begin with.

If you have any more specific questions on exam technique, feel free to ask
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pink pineapple
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(Original post by stateofdreaming)
Would you say that I have to link at least two factors or every factor to each other in each paragraph?
What I usually do is I link the paragraphs together in the first sentence just to make sure they're not like not mini essays. It's not neccessary to link all the factors because sometimes there isn't any obvious links
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Mr Inquisitive
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(Original post by stateofdreaming)
So it's perfectly okay to contradict the first point I make. Ah, thank you. I was unsure as to whether or not I'd be marked down for not being consistent with my argument being for/against.
You're a History student - this is massively encouraged!!
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kaputwombat
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Also, for the point given in the question you should aim to write a third of your work on that
Use strong land specialist language, instead of workers say proletariat Strong lead in sentences help too, eg: the predominate reason..., to a vary degree it could be argued that...
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Mirandaandcake
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(Original post by stateofdreaming)
Thank you! I do have January exams so I'm really nervous about getting the structure and timing correct. I understand that I have to link my points after explaining it but it's a bit hard without giving irrelevant detail beforehand. I'm definitely struggling to link relevant points together based on evidence. Would you say that I have to link at least two factors or every factor to each other in each paragraph? Ah, but thank you so much!



So it's perfectly okay to contradict the first point I make. Ah, thank you. I was unsure as to whether or not I'd be marked down for not being consistent with my argument being for/against.
All the advice given here should help you to do well in January. Good Luck !As pink pineapple said, it is not necessary to link every paragraph, but do wherever you can. Otherwise, using linking words/phrases such as 'In Addition', 'Similarly', 'In this manner', 'In this sense' should work also!
Also, do have a look at examiner 's reports and mark schemes, this helped me a lot.
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Tegan006
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I did edexcel for my history a-level and it was quite hard to get the hang of but don't worry too much because once you get it, you'll never understand why there was a problem.

Just make sure that you make your viewpoint clear and answer the question definitively in the first line of your whole essay and ensure that you keep making that point. At the beginning and end of every paragraph link it back to your viewpoint so you believe factor A is the most important so after a paragraph about factor B, don't be afraid to link back and say 'factor B was significant, however, factor A is the most important because...' and then compare them with a quick sentence.

Not sure if it's edexcel or just how I was taught but using personal pronouns is a big no no, never say 'I think' or 'my view is that'

Also, edexcel love dates and figures if you can include them.

Hope this helps.
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BaconFTW
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To be honest, I'm doing A2 history, and at this point I'm quite convinced that there is no right way to write an essay. There's no structure that you should follow consistently. There's no formula for success. What's integral to an A grade essay is that you answer the question and you do so convincingly.

The best way to answer the question convincingly, I find, is just to think about it long and hard before you start writing. The structure can be figured out once you know what you want to argue, and why -- just think of a way to put forward the argument logically. And if there are sources, read them after you've figured out want to argue, and use them either to support your points or (even better) to set up strawmen to argue against.

Writing essays in a formulaic, fixed manner may work at GCSE, and to an extent, at A-level, but it's a habit that's best abandoned early.

Edit: Then again, you probably shouldn't listen to me, I flopped my summer exams -- I got a B.
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1nconnu
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[QUOTE=
A good structure to use is Point, Evidence, Explain and LINK. Linking your arguments will get you the higher grades.
[/QUOTE]
Linking what? can you give example please?
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Lola96
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I've also picked history A level and I have to admit I have no idea on what I'm doing, this is the first time I'm doing history and I've never done it before. It's based on American politics and I feel as if I'm the only one who has no idea what's going on. Help???? Is there anyway I can get better I've been told a lot of people have been successful without studying it at gcse.
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