AQA - Surviving the massive leap to A2?

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tomfailinghelp
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Hey,

I'm a new A2 student, studying AQA History A2. I'm not worried about the coursework at all really, however I'm really struggling with the exam unit, which is HIS3D British Crisis of State.

I got close to 100% in my AS exams, but now all of a sudden I can only get a low B on a non-timed essay that we had months to prepare for. We were given an opportunity to re-write the essay under timed conditions and I did even worse the second time!

Does anyone have advice for how I can get back on track? I've talked to my teacher but all she seems able to do is give me advice such as 'use more specific evidence' which isn't a massive help really. I've read about three books on the topic and I'm not sure it's really sticking at all.
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smile:D
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(Original post by tomfailinghelp)
Hey,

I'm a new A2 student, studying AQA History A2. I'm not worried about the coursework at all really, however I'm really struggling with the exam unit, which is HIS3D British Crisis of State.

I got close to 100% in my AS exams, but now all of a sudden I can only get a low B on a non-timed essay that we had months to prepare for. We were given an opportunity to re-write the essay under timed conditions and I did even worse the second time!

Does anyone have advice for how I can get back on track? I've talked to my teacher but all she seems able to do is give me advice such as 'use more specific evidence' which isn't a massive help really. I've read about three books on the topic and I'm not sure it's really sticking at all.
Is there any chance you could photocopy your essay then post it here or PM it to me? It's easier to give more specific advice rather than general points which may or may not apply to you .
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Steph_EmmaH
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(Original post by tomfailinghelp)
Hey,

I'm a new A2 student, studying AQA History A2. I'm not worried about the coursework at all really, however I'm really struggling with the exam unit, which is HIS3D British Crisis of State.

I got close to 100% in my AS exams, but now all of a sudden I can only get a low B on a non-timed essay that we had months to prepare for. We were given an opportunity to re-write the essay under timed conditions and I did even worse the second time!

Does anyone have advice for how I can get back on track? I've talked to my teacher but all she seems able to do is give me advice such as 'use more specific evidence' which isn't a massive help really. I've read about three books on the topic and I'm not sure it's really sticking at all.
I did exactly the same unit at A2. It definitely takes time to get used to the essay structure at A2, as it is pretty different to AS, but believe me with practice you do get there.

My best advice would be to focus on themes/different lines of arguments for paragraphs, and use specifics as evidence. So for example, say the question is something along the lines of 'why did the royalists lose the civil war?' You might structure the essay with paragraphs such as the actions of parliament, the actions of Charles, localism/neutralism etc. What you don't want to do is have a paragraph focused specifically on a piece of evidence such as how parliament effectively raised money for the war (that should be evidence to support the role of parliament). Some elements, such as the creation of the new model army, might be alright as a paragraph, providing you give many reasons why they contributed to the royalists loosing (eg. background in EA,tactics, payment).

At the end of each paragraph you need to sum up how the paragraph you have written links to the question eg. therefore it can be said that the actions of Charles was the key reason for the royalists losing the civil war. If you can start/end a paragraph by directly answering the question (and possibly linking to other factors by saying what was more/less important) then you should be getting the grade that you want.

So overall, use specifics (including as much detail as possible like dates) to support a wider factor, and link factors together and to the question.

Hope that may be of some help! That's how I was taught to do it and ended up with an A at A-Level (would have been an A*, but there have been problems with my college's coursework- it's being investigated!)
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tomfailinghelp
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(Original post by smile:D)
Is there any chance you could photocopy your essay then post it here or PM it to me? It's easier to give more specific advice rather than general points which may or may not apply to you .
It is actually typed up so I shall send it when I'm next at a proper computer!

(Original post by Steph_EmmaH)
I did exactly the same unit at A2. It definitely takes time to get used to the essay structure at A2, as it is pretty different to AS, but believe me with practice you do get there.

My best advice would be to focus on themes/different lines of arguments for paragraphs, and use specifics as evidence. So for example, say the question is something along the lines of 'why did the royalists lose the civil war?' You might structure the essay with paragraphs such as the actions of parliament, the actions of Charles, localism/neutralism etc. What you don't want to do is have a paragraph focused specifically on a piece of evidence such as how parliament effectively raised money for the war (that should be evidence to support the role of parliament). Some elements, such as the creation of the new model army, might be alright as a paragraph, providing you give many reasons why they contributed to the royalists loosing (eg. background in EA,tactics, payment).

At the end of each paragraph you need to sum up how the paragraph you have written links to the question eg. therefore it can be said that the actions of Charles was the key reason for the royalists losing the civil war. If you can start/end a paragraph by directly answering the question (and possibly linking to other factors by saying what was more/less important) then you should be getting the grade that you want.

So overall, use specifics (including as much detail as possible like dates) to support a wider factor, and link factors together and to the question.

Hope that may be of some help! That's how I was taught to do it and ended up with an A at A-Level (would have been an A*, but there have been problems with my college's coursework- it's being investigated!)
These are really clear (and hopefully helpful) instructions, thank-you!

Do you have any suggestions for how much to make of each point? I know that there is never a formula or anything, and there's a lot of improvising in regard to structure and what-not, but I wonder how much evidence and how much depth you'd go into with each point.

For example, if I was answering your question, I'd write a point about the New Model Army and the Royalist forces by comparison. I'd say that the NMA was a significant force of 20,000 men, was paid from a sum of £53,000 collected from Parliament's assessment ordinances and was a hotbed of political and religious radicalism because of its numerous radical leaders (e.g. Cromwell). This ensured that Parliament was in a strong position, because large numbers generated several royalist defeats, notably the Battle of Naseby on June 14th 1645, which destroyed Charles' main army. Moreover, as a paid force the New Model Army mostly paid for their quarters, which prevented them from earning the ire of the Clubmen as the Royalists did. In one instance in Herefordshire in 1646, Clubmen rose up against the Royalist force to protest their abuse of free quarters, a necessary consequence of their inferior pay. This is because unlike Parliament, with it's assessment ordinances, Charles had to rely on members of the gentry to fund his army, for example The earl of Newcastle and his 'whitecoats'. Furthermore, historians have described the 'Commission of Array', which called up the troops for Charles, as a 'dreadful blunder', because it's unfamiliar nature made its legality questionable. This meant that the Royalist forces may not have had as many troops as they could have otherwise. Despite this, it is true that Parliament's 'Militia Ordinance' was similarly questionable, and therefore that many counties such as Staffordshire did not produce troops for either party, meaning that this alone does not explain the supremacy of the New Model over the a Royalist force.

I won't write any more, I'm sure you get the picture. It's just that I've seen A* answers that use as few as two or so pieces of specific evidence per paragraph, and so I worry that my structure is way way off. I don't enjoy writing these lengthy and trailing paragraphs but my teacher seems to think that I must get both sides in each one.

(And thank-you so far for your help)
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