How do you write/structure an A level history essay? Watch

MaiyaWilliams
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#1
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#1
I've just started Year 12 and A levels are already seeming impossible to do. I got an A for history in my GCSEs so i decided I would pick it up again as an A level course. Trouble is, I'm finding it difficult in writing/structuring my essay.
Any tips?
Thank you (:
0
reply
math42
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#2
Report 3 years ago
#2
Well it probably depends on the essay title. Of course there the basic consistent elements like introduction, followed by a main chunk arguing certain points and using evidence (be it specific and factual or a historical quote/opinion) to support them, then a "verdict" and conclusion. Not to mention different sides of the argument preferably shown, if it's something like "Do you agree with this" or "To what extent is this true"


(Original post by MaiyaWilliams)
..
0
reply
Veni Vidi Fugi
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#3
Report 3 years ago
#3
(Original post by MaiyaWilliams)
I've just started Year 12 and A levels are already seeming impossible to do. I got an A for history in my GCSEs so i decided I would pick it up again as an A level course. Trouble is, I'm finding it difficult in writing/structuring my essay.
Any tips?
Thank you (:
An essay structure should flow logically. There's no witchcraft to it, but neither is there a perfect structure which you have to use every time. In short, as long as it works, you're golden.

I disagree that you should have a 'verdict' at the end. It would make the preceding parts of your essay directionless or superfluous. Instead, I suggest that your answer should unfold throughout the course of the essay.

If you're to argue both sides, don't just present each case neutrally and then choose one. Present each side with the knowledge that you find one or both of them limited. For example, if we were talking about whether Magna Carta was the result of long-term or short-term causes, you might start by arguing that it is certainly true that, with regard to its immediate causation, it was the result of a baronial revolt/King John being horrible. You could then go on to argue that Magna Carta also raised issues which had been gestating for hundreds of years. If you seek to make distinctions and to argue the case with regard to how far your evidence will carry you, there'll be no need for fence-sitting.

Topic sentences are your friend. The first sentence of every paragraph should set it up. For example: 'When one looks beyond the immediate events that forced John to sign the Magna Carta, it is clear that longer term factors, such as the problem of Angevin government, informed the contents of the charter'. Ideally, you should be able to read each first sentence and find that your argument is made clearer.


I hope that my prose is also clear! If it isn't, I'd be happy to suggest a structure if you provided a topic and what you would want to argue. My one caveat is that some of the marking criteria for A Level essays are eccentric at best, so I can only advise as to what I'd like to see in an undergraduate essay; your mileage may vary...
2
reply
math42
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#4
Report 3 years ago
#4
(Original post by Veni Vidi Fugi)
I disagree that you should have a 'verdict' at the end. It would make the preceding parts of your essay directionless or superfluous. Instead, I suggest that your answer should unfold throughout the course of the essay.
Oh I don't mean just go meandering about without any sort of indication of your real position/argument, I mean use the conclusion to just sum it up/express it shortly. What you describe is basically how I tended to write essays; I think my post just oversimplified the process a bit. As an example I wrote an essay on the Merthyr Rising causes a while back and I discussed socio-economic factors vs. political factors but would consistently make it clear that I considered the former more significant/"correct"/backed by evidence despite devoting some time to the latter.
0
reply
Veni Vidi Fugi
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#5
Report 3 years ago
#5
(Original post by 13 1 20 8 42)
Oh I don't mean just go meandering about without any sort of indication of your real position/argument, I mean use the conclusion to just sum it up/express it shortly. What you describe is basically how I tended to write essays; I think my post just oversimplified the process a bit. As an example I wrote an essay on the Merthyr Rising causes a while back and I discussed socio-economic factors vs. political factors but would consistently make it clear that I considered the former more significant/"correct"/backed by evidence despite devoting some time to the latter.
Splendid, I thought your comment was probably not a fair summary of your position which is why I didn't quote it. I'd just repeat that it's always helpful to think in terms of the ways in which something is valid rather than how valid overall it is, although i suspect at A Level they're still going to want the big overall (and meaningless) verdict...
1
reply
HenryKenry
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#6
Report 3 years ago
#6
Lol History...worst mistake of my life so far! Yet im still taking it for A2...
1
reply
Nettled
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#7
Report 3 years ago
#7
(Original post by HenryKenry)
Lol History...worst mistake of my life so far! Yet im still taking it for A2...
Mistake.. Why?
0
reply
HenryKenry
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#8
Report 3 years ago
#8
(Original post by Nettled)
Mistake.. Why?
To be honest most of my class got A's and B's in my sixth form, but I personally hate it so much. So much work, and what I hate about it most is that I dont even want to call it History, because its more about exam technique at A-level you cant just enjoy learning the topic because if you cannot apply it then its a fail. So History not only tests your memory but it tests your skill more.
0
reply
math42
Badges: 20
Rep:
?
#9
Report 3 years ago
#9
(Original post by HenryKenry)
To be honest most of my class got A's and B's in my sixth form, but I personally hate it so much. So much work, and what I hate about it most is that I dont even want to call it History, because its more about exam technique at A-level you cant just enjoy learning the topic because if you cannot apply it then its a fail. So History not only tests your memory but it tests your skill more.
This is why I dropped History at A2...in our exams I had the highest marks in the class; full UMS in one and 1 UMS into a B (that is, 70%, rather than 1 mark past the boundary) in the other. Did one go badly because I was less skilled, at the fundamental level, at source analysis, the content of the paper I did worse in? Nope, because I didn't - none of us did - know the proper exam technique for that paper (we had two teachers; one great, one not so great..). And I spent so long memorising all those specific dates and facts only for it not to be rewarded. I know I didn't do badly, but it was way out of line with my mocks. Any particular reason you need to continue with it?
0
reply
Veni Vidi Fugi
Badges: 14
Rep:
?
#10
Report 3 years ago
#10
Fun fact, History was my lowest A Level and that of several of my friends. We all now have degrees in it.
1
reply
TheonlyMrsHolmes
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#11
Report 3 years ago
#11
(Original post by HenryKenry)
Lol History...worst mistake of my life so far! Yet im still taking it for A2...
SAME! A2 is like dying twice :rofl2:
0
reply
jamestg
Badges: 21
Rep:
?
#12
Report 3 years ago
#12
AS History is actually killing me, I felt sick just looking at the specimen paper and mark scheme.
1
reply
MaiyaWilliams
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#13
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#13
Thank you. I understand some of what you have suggested although I'm still having a lot of difficulty writing the essay. That and my procrastination xD
My essay is titled: 'How far can Russia be defined as a backwards state in 1855?' And to score the top marks, I need to present both sides of the argument. Help? xD

Posted from TSR Mobile
0
reply
catrinakemp21
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#14
Report 3 years ago
#14
(Original post by MaiyaWilliams)
Thank you. I understand some of what you have suggested although I'm still having a lot of difficulty writing the essay. That and my procrastination xD
My essay is titled: 'How far can Russia be defined as a backwards state in 1855?' And to score the top marks, I need to present both sides of the argument. Help? xD

Posted from TSR Mobile
I'll admit that I don't actually know anything about 19th Century Russia, but I use this generic structure for basically every History essay I do (except sources ones) and it normally gets me around 26-27/30. Everyone is different and different teachers want different things, so yours might be completely different to mine. As the year progresses, you'll figure out your own method but hopefully this will help as a starting point. Try to remember that you don't need to narrate the events as they happened. I know it sounds so KS3, but literally Point Evidence Explanation actually works if you think of it like: answering the question; giving evidence to back up the view; linking different factors together (e.g. counter-arguing) and linking it back to the question.

I'll assume that you're arguing that Russia can be defined as a backwards state just to make it easier, but of course you can go either way.

Intro: Answer the question. Give the main reason why you think this (but don't say "I think this because...." since you have to sound confident of your answer all the way through). Show a brief awareness of other views but play them down and end on your view again to be convincing and to make clear that this is your view.

Paragraph 1: The main reason why you think that Russia was a backwards state. Give a couple of pieces of indisputable evidence.

Paragraph 2: Another reason why you think Russia was a backwards state. Again, give evidence.

Paragraph 3: Same as above.

Paragraph 4: The main reason why some people think Russia wasn't a backwards state. Again give evidence, but try to select it so that there is some way that you can negate it. It's hard to explain without knowing about your topic, but for example for a causation question it might be "x wasn't the true cause because x only happened because of y". In my opinion, this is the difficult bit. If you really can't find a way to counter-argue it, just make sure the paragraphs giving your view are much more convincing than the paragraphs giving the other view, and you'll figure out how to do it over the course of the year.

Paragraph 5: Another reason for the other view (the same as above).

Paragraph 6: Same as above.

Conclusion: Essentially the same as the introduction, except your evidence should be more detailed (e.g. include facts/statistics) and your language should be much more convincing.

I hope this helps! Even though essays are hard, try to enjoy them because it makes them so much easier. Think of them like you trying to persuade your teacher, who adamantly disagrees with you, to agree with you. Good luck!
2
reply
MaiyaWilliams
Badges: 2
Rep:
?
#15
Report Thread starter 3 years ago
#15
Thank you! This has given me some insight into how I should answer the question (: I'm going to attempt today.. Its due in tomorrow xD
0
reply
hogree
Badges: 15
Rep:
?
#16
Report 3 years ago
#16
Thought this was a pretty solid article about it. https://historyslc.files.wordpress.c...vel-essay1.pdf
1
reply
Nettled
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#17
Report 3 years ago
#17
(Original post by HenryKenry)
To be honest most of my class got A's and B's in my sixth form, but I personally hate it so much. So much work, and what I hate about it most is that I dont even want to call it History, because its more about exam technique at A-level you cant just enjoy learning the topic because if you cannot apply it then its a fail. So History not only tests your memory but it tests your skill more.
What topics did you study in History? I've just got one of my History textbooks.. It's so thick Out of interest what exam board are you with?
0
reply
HenryKenry
Badges: 5
Rep:
?
#18
Report 3 years ago
#18
(Original post by Nettled)
What topics did you study in History? I've just got one of my History textbooks.. It's so thick Out of interest what exam board are you with?
Edexcel. AS I studied Russia and the Tudor dynasty. It's a very hard subject, dont ever think its about memory its so much about skill.

If you enjoy it do, dont let anyone put you off, but it was my regret.
0
reply
Shostakovish
Badges: 12
Rep:
?
#19
Report 3 years ago
#19
I did alright in A Level History - I used to just copy the format and structure of the high marked examples on the candidate examples, which can be found on the AQA website (assuming you do AQA). I'll attach it here too, there are more on the website.
0
reply
Nettled
Badges: 17
Rep:
?
#20
Report 3 years ago
#20
(Original post by HenryKenry)
Edexcel. AS I studied Russia and the Tudor dynasty. It's a very hard subject, dont ever think its about memory its so much about skill.

If you enjoy it do, dont let anyone put you off, but it was my regret.
I'm studying the Tudors and Cold War although I'm with AQA. Love your username btw :lol:

Well we've just done our first essay so I'll see how that goes. Thanks for the kind words :'D
Do you know what you want to study at Uni yet?
0
reply
X

Quick Reply

Attached files
Write a reply...
Reply
new posts
Latest
My Feed

See more of what you like on
The Student Room

You can personalise what you see on TSR. Tell us a little about yourself to get started.

Personalise

University open days

  • Bournemouth University
    Clearing Open Day Undergraduate
    Wed, 31 Jul '19
  • Staffordshire University
    Postgraduate open event - Stoke-on-Trent campus Postgraduate
    Wed, 7 Aug '19
  • University of Derby
    Foundation Open Event Further education
    Wed, 7 Aug '19

Are you tempted to change your firm university choice on A-level results day?

Yes, I'll try and go to a uni higher up the league tables (155)
17.61%
Yes, there is a uni that I prefer and I'll fit in better (76)
8.64%
No I am happy with my course choice (522)
59.32%
I'm using Clearing when I have my exam results (127)
14.43%

Watched Threads

View All