Edexcel as history essay plan and structure

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I have never been taught how to plan an essay for any subject, so my history essays especially are tending to be descriptive as I am never too sure where I am going with the essay when I'm writing it, meaning I'm not yet achieving my predicted grade of A at AS.

I was wondering if anyone had any techniques on how to plan for a history essay?

I've just written out an answer to a past paper question: How far was the Federal Government responsible for the improvement of African American status between 1945-1964?

This is what I put for my plan:Federal responsibility
  • Acts passed e.g. Civil Rights Act changes de facto
  • Truman - 'To Secure These Rights' - exec. 9101 desegregated army 1948
  • Eisenhower intervention at Little Rock

Federal not responsible

  • ​Eisenhower believed in 'gradual change'
  • Kennedy made no significant change
  • Truman 'Fair Deal' programme housing failure

Other responsibility

  • MEDIA increased awareness and popularity

- Birmingham (1963) - images of tear gas and police dogs used on children - soviet union devote 1/5 radio time to campaign
- Little Rock (1957) - images of children pushed and spat on (1954 - 55% in favour of education equality - 1964 - 80% in favour)

Is this plan too detailed? Not detailed enough? Not set out the write way?

In my essay I did two paragraphs on why federal was responsible, one on why it wasn't and one on another responsible factor - is this a good structure?

This is one paragraph from the essay I wrote a moment ago:

The Federal Government was responsible for the change due to the fact that they could change the de facto by passing acts. There had been many de jure changes; Morgan v. Virginnia (1946), Sweatt v. Painter (1950), Brown vs. Board of Education of Topeka (1954), Browder v. Gayle (1956) and Cooper v. Aaron (1958) to name a few. However, these did not change the de facto; in 1957, 3 years after Brown, 97% African Americans were still in segregated schools. The Federal Government, however, passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, forcing a further 53 states to desegregate and, by 1968, 58% African American children were in segregated schools. One could conclude the federal government were extremely responsible for the improvement as it forced desegregation and made a significant impact on education. One could argue that it 58% is still a large figure and the Federal Government didn't do enough, however, one could argue back that it is significant progress when the strength of the Southern 'segregated heart' is considered.

Typing this out again, I feel it may be too descriptive?

I know I have asked a lot of questions...even if you could answer just one I would be so so so grateful!!!!!!!!

Thank you all

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