Advice on getting A* for History A-level Watch

transient life
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I don't have any course work since I'm an international student. I'm doing it under the Cambridge International Examination board.

My first exams in 2nd of May and I am kind of freaking out as I'm not even nearly done learning the information on all the different components much less get to the essay practicing phase?

Any tips from former A-level Historians on achieving A*?

Also is 30 days enough time to practice just the past papers?

I am self-taught and home-schooled if you were wondering so it's not that I haven't done any work throughout the year, it's that I have literally been working so slow and now I'm panicking.
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transient life
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Anyone?
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username3049746
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I cant give you any advice but Ofc it can be done just work hard. And utilize your time efficiently.

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riatsala
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There really isn't much to it.

1) Keep up to date in class at all times. Do all the homework and make sure you understand everything that's going on (will be very easy when it comes to revision - utilise your teachers, ask them questions). -> No need to do 'outside work' of 6 hours a week or whatever they demand you do, don't worry about that.
2) Know the period you're studying about inside out. Go through your core textbooks making concised notes on everything. Do what you want with this, maybe concise them more, maybe make cue cards out of your notes. Also have several explicit facts for each period/topic that can come up.
3) In the exam - avoid description. Get an argument, outline it in the intro - stick to it throughout using PEE.
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Dorothee
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Okay here's what I think. I am also an international student taking History A Level under CIE too and heey I am also a self-taught student. Well I don't home school or anything. My school just decided to remove History completely and I wasn't about to give up so yeah here we are. First question, are you siting for AS or A2's? Because the requirements are EXTREMELY different. But given the fact that you mentioned an A*, I presume you are siting for A2's. So I'm also sitting for my A2's. I had an A at AS level and I am aiming for an A* and this is what I do:
1) Get the scheme of work. Soooo important. I cannot fully emphasis on how important this is because it really really is. Most of the questions in paper 4 come from here- the exact same questions just different words.In case you're wondering what questions, they are practically the tasks at the bottom of each subtopic. Once you have the schemes of work, you'll know what I mean.
2) For paper 3, the interpretations paper, there really is not any trick apart from practice. I mean sure, you will need to have knowledge on the Holocaust, Cold war or Causes of British imperialism and knowledge too on key underlining historians interpretations but nothing will get you ready as practise will. Do as many questions as you can and the mark schemes here are your new best friend. They give a good sample on how you should structure and answer the questions. Also, when using it, always look at guidelines for level 5 answers as these are the ones that are most likely to get you an A*
3) Evaluate and analyse more than ever. This is crucial to earning higher marks and they speak of something called synthesis- use information from sources to form your analysis. Also, just try to sound really smart haha and let your essay be coherent.
That's about it I guess. I really hope this was helpful and if you need anything else or didn't understand what I said, let me know and I will get back to you!
Goodluck and may grade thresholds forever be in our favour!
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transient life
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(Original post by Dorothee)
Okay here's what I think. I am also an international student taking History A Level under CIE too and heey I am also a self-taught student. Well I don't home school or anything. My school just decided to remove History completely and I wasn't about to give up so yeah here we are. First question, are you siting for AS or A2's? Because the requirements are EXTREMELY different. But given the fact that you mentioned an A*, I presume you are siting for A2's. So I'm also sitting for my A2's. I had an A at AS level and I am aiming for an A* and this is what I do:
1) Get the scheme of work. Soooo important. I cannot fully emphasis on how important this is because it really really is. Most of the questions in paper 4 come from here- the exact same questions just different words.In case you're wondering what questions, they are practically the tasks at the bottom of each subtopic. Once you have the schemes of work, you'll know what I mean.
2) For paper 3, the interpretations paper, there really is not any trick apart from practice. I mean sure, you will need to have knowledge on the Holocaust, Cold war or Causes of British imperialism and knowledge too on key underlining historians interpretations but nothing will get you ready as practise will. Do as many questions as you can and the mark schemes here are your new best friend. They give a good sample on how you should structure and answer the questions. Also, when using it, always look at guidelines for level 5 answers as these are the ones that are most likely to get you an A*
3) Evaluate and analyse more than ever. This is crucial to earning higher marks and they speak of something called synthesis- use information from sources to form your analysis. Also, just try to sound really smart haha and let your essay be coherent.
That's about it I guess. I really hope this was helpful and if you need anything else or didn't understand what I said, let me know and I will get back to you!
Goodluck and may grade thresholds forever be in our favour!
Hi OMG THANK YOU FOR POSTING! I freaking love you just for posting haha!

And okay so I haven't done my AS yet - I will do BOTH AS and A2 history this summer so I am loaded with work right now. Congratulations on the A at AS level!

What option did you do for Paper 1 and what topics did you do for Paper 2? So for Paper 1 I am doing Liberalism and Nationalism of Italy and Germany, and for paper 2 I am doing the French Revolution and Industrial Revolution.

I actually only decided to take up A-level history October 2016 so I am cramming in everything in this past 6 months but I'm really nervous as I am falling behind on revision. How did you manage to get A in AS level? You must be reeeally smart hehe

As for A2, which options are you doing and do you do the papers with '1' '2' or '3' at the end? Also I am just a little confused by work scheme do you mean the mark scheme?

Thanks so much for the brilliant advice! You sound really smart, smash those exams and I know you'll get that A*

Hoping to hear from you soon x
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Dorothee
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Hi!
Thank youu for all the nice things you said- it swells my heart hahaha. So I did not take the same options as you did- I took the international option for both papers. Search for international peace and security for paper 1 and for paper 2 I took international relations.
I am really just an average student though but you have to put in the work if you want to see good grades. And you're really fine if you are going to begin reading now- it will give you ample time. I actually began reading for AS in April and it was such a crazy roller-coaster that I would never make that mistake again so starting now is pretty much perfect!
Okay so there's something tricky with A2s. One, they are A LOT more tougher than AS and the reading just has to be gosh, on a scale of one to ten, read at 11 and do past papers at 15. Literally. Also, they made amends to the syllabus (2nd page of the syllabus) and this is really important. I actually had overlooked it until my IGCSE History teacher who is also our coach now (God bless that lady) mentioned it. So if you have done an international module at AS, at A2, you will have to take up a different area i.e. Europe. For your case, since you're taking Liberalism and Nationalism of Italy and Germany for paper 1 and The French Revolution and Industrial Revolution for paper 2, you will have to take The Holocaust or Origins of the Cold War for paper 3 and History of the US or International History for Paper 4- you will have to step outside Europe since you have done it at AS level.
Oh and my codes for paper 3 and 4 are 32 and 42. What are yours?
And the scheme of work is not the mark scheme. Cambridge basically just has it lying around on their website for the teachers (so inconsiderate to self-taught students) but since I have my IGCSE teacher, she saves our lives by getting them for us.I would have passed on my AS ones via email but I only have the international options and also my A2 options.
Regardless though, you should be fine. You'll have to do more past papers and read extra extra hard.
I wish you all the best and I hope you do manage to finish reading on time because reading for 4 papers is a little bit intense. But stay positive, get your sleep and try to have fun while you're at it hahaha I know it sounds impossible but try. Also, if there's anything else you need, let me know!!
Goodluck!
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transient life
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(Original post by Dorothee)
Hi!
Thank youu for all the nice things you said- it swells my heart hahaha. So I did not take the same options as you did- I took the international option for both papers. Search for international peace and security for paper 1 and for paper 2 I took international relations.
I am really just an average student though but you have to put in the work if you want to see good grades. And you're really fine if you are going to begin reading now- it will give you ample time. I actually began reading for AS in April and it was such a crazy roller-coaster that I would never make that mistake again so starting now is pretty much perfect!
Okay so there's something tricky with A2s. One, they are A LOT more tougher than AS and the reading just has to be gosh, on a scale of one to ten, read at 11 and do past papers at 15. Literally. Also, they made amends to the syllabus (2nd page of the syllabus) and this is really important. I actually had overlooked it until my IGCSE History teacher who is also our coach now (God bless that lady) mentioned it. So if you have done an international module at AS, at A2, you will have to take up a different area i.e. Europe. For your case, since you're taking Liberalism and Nationalism of Italy and Germany for paper 1 and The French Revolution and Industrial Revolution for paper 2, you will have to take The Holocaust or Origins of the Cold War for paper 3 and History of the US or International History for Paper 4- you will have to step outside Europe since you have done it at AS level.
Oh and my codes for paper 3 and 4 are 32 and 42. What are yours?
And the scheme of work is not the mark scheme. Cambridge basically just has it lying around on their website for the teachers (so inconsiderate to self-taught students) but since I have my IGCSE teacher, she saves our lives by getting them for us.I would have passed on my AS ones via email but I only have the international options and also my A2 options.
Regardless though, you should be fine. You'll have to do more past papers and read extra extra hard.
I wish you all the best and I hope you do manage to finish reading on time because reading for 4 papers is a little bit intense. But stay positive, get your sleep and try to have fun while you're at it hahaha I know it sounds impossible but try. Also, if there's anything else you need, let me know!!
Goodluck!
HI Dorothy, you're very much welcome!

I just sent you a private message on here replying to most of the post
But I forgot to mention in the private message, when did you start revising for your A2 papers ? (I know you said April for AS! Gosh that must be crazy). Which options are you doing for Paper 3 and 4? I haven't yet began on Paper 3 and 4 so I am getting a little worried now!
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Audrey18
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(Original post by transient life)
I don't have any course work since I'm an international student. I'm doing it under the Cambridge International Examination board.

My first exams in 2nd of May and I am kind of freaking out as I'm not even nearly done learning the information on all the different components much less get to the essay practicing phase?

Any tips from former A-level Historians on achieving A*?

Also is 30 days enough time to practice just the past papers?

I am self-taught and home-schooled if you were wondering so it's not that I haven't done any work throughout the year, it's that I have literally been working so slow and now I'm panicking.
CIE papers at A levels are tough if you're home schooled. You won't find that many people here from this forum doing this paper. You'll have better luck at xtremepapers forum. Cos CIE is geared towards people from Europe, Pakistan, India and Malaysia. History 9389 Paper 1 and 2 are fairly straightforward. You'll need to know the chronology of the events, the important dates and who were the leading and supporting characters.

I did the european option
Paper 1 Compulsory topic
- unification of Italy and Germany

Paper 2
- French Revolution
- Industrial Revolution

The CIE textbook is pretty lousy in general so I suggest you look at AQA's textbook on industrial revolution. You'll learn more and will be able to write something of substance in the exams.

For Paper 3 and 4, I'll be doing
- Holocaust
- Hitler's Germany
- Mussolini's Italy

For holocaust you will need to know the different historians and the 3 types of interpretation. Fundamentalism, intentionalism and structuralism. Without knowing these 3 approaches you can't do well for Paper 3.

For Paper 4, i chose Germany and Italy again because i've already studied both topics in Paper 1 which focused on the early beginnings of Germany and Italy. So it's a natural progression.

Don't be disheartened. I was like you, looking for help on this forum but help never came. I had to learn through the hard way. Hopefully we can get this thread moving and then more closet CIE history students can come out in the open and contribute positively.

Where are you from and what other subjects are you doing with CIE? what do you plan to do at uni and which uni's will you be applying to?
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transient life
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(Original post by Audrey18)
CIE papers at A levels are tough if you're home schooled. You won't find that many people here from this forum doing this paper. You'll have better luck at xtremepapers forum. Cos CIE is geared towards people from Europe, Pakistan, India and Malaysia. History 9389 Paper 1 and 2 are fairly straightforward. You'll need to know the chronology of the events, the important dates and who were the leading and supporting characters.

I did the european option
Paper 1 Compulsory topic
- unification of Italy and Germany

Paper 2
- French Revolution
- Industrial Revolution

The CIE textbook is pretty lousy in general so I suggest you look at AQA's textbook on industrial revolution. You'll learn more and will be able to write something of substance in the exams.

For Paper 3 and 4, I'll be doing
- Holocaust
- Hitler's Germany
- Mussolini's Italy

For holocaust you will need to know the different historians and the 3 types of interpretation. Fundamentalism, intentionalism and structuralism. Without knowing these 3 approaches you can't do well for Paper 3.

For Paper 4, i chose Germany and Italy again because i've already studied both topics in Paper 1 which focused on the early beginnings of Germany and Italy. So it's a natural progression.

Don't be disheartened. I was like you, looking for help on this forum but help never came. I had to learn through the hard way. Hopefully we can get this thread moving and then more closet CIE history students can come out in the open and contribute positively.

Where are you from and what other subjects are you doing with CIE? what do you plan to do at uni and which uni's will you be applying to?
Hi Audrey thanks so much for posting!

So you did Liberalism and Nationalism for Paper 1, French revolution and Industrial revolution for Paper 2, historiography of the holocaust for paper 3 and hitler and mussolini for paper 4? Whoa that's so amazing! I have the EXACT same choices!

Are you done with your A-levels or doing them this session? I will be doing my AS and A2 together, so linear course, this summer. If you finished them, do you mind my asking what grade you got? I understand if you don't want to say it is a personal question

What books did you use for the various papers?

I am doing History and Economics with CIE and Math with Edexcel. Hopefully if I get the grades this summer will be applying to Oxbridge (haven't decided which one yet, will be visiting the colleges on open-days first before deciding) to read History. I will also be applying to universities in Belgium, Switzerland and Austria as safety net incase I don't get the grades for Oxbridge.

What about you what are you planning to study at university?
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han1234678
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Hey!!

So I haven't got an A* and I'm not on the same board as you but I've been getting A* in mocks since the beginning of year so here is what I recommend!!

1) learn the content at the same time as you are writing the essays. For my exam board (and from what I've seen almost every other exam board at A level) the exam is pure essays and so really knowledge comes secondary to your ability to write a well structured essay. I would reccomend that you consider potential questions whilst studying (often this is the same as the title of the chapter) and focus your notes around the argument not a description of what happened.
2) in the front of my folder I have a note saying "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bullsht". Essentially, yes you need to have a good understanding of the historical period but when in an exam don't be afraid to make things up that sound reasonable because most examiners don't care enough to be entirely sure
3) if you can't remember the year, don't guess but try giving a reasonable sort of time period (e.g. Mid 1930s). Do try to remember dates though because if an exam question asks for between certain periods then you will not get marks for information outside of this time period.
4) learn to fit what the mark scheme wants. For example, the edexcel mark scheme for every essay likes you to define a key word in the essay title and to consider this throughout the essay (e.g. To what extent did /all British/ people benefit from Thatcherism). Essentially if you know the mark scheme you know what the examiners are looking for- they are only trying to fit you into a band and if they see you do lots of the things the top band says then you're in!!
5) Make sure that you make judgements throughout!!! History is all about arguments and judgements and so it is so essential that you are discussing a well balanced argument. An easy to way to do this is by adding the words "fundamentally", "crucially", "significantly" and "turning point/catalyst". These words tell the examiner that you are making an argument!
6) cue cards are really helpful if you write out potential essay questions on one side and then one small line per paragraph on the other!!

Ultimately, good luck and I hope some of those are relevant to your exam board!! Start essays now!! History essays can be done anytime because most essays are related to one or two topics so just study the topic then write the essay (or study the topic by writing an incredible open book essay)
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transient life
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(Original post by han1234678)
Hey!!

So I haven't got an A* and I'm not on the same board as you but I've been getting A* in mocks since the beginning of year so here is what I reccomend!!

1) learn the content at the same time as you are writing the essays. For my exam board (and from what I've seen almost every other exam board at A level) the exam is pure essays and so really knowledge comes secondary to your ability to write a well structured essay. I would reccomend that you consider potential questions whilst studying (often this is the same as the title of the chapter) and focus your notes around the argument not a description of what happened.
2) in the front of my folder I have a note saying "if you can't dazzle them with brilliance then baffle them with bullsht". Essentially, yes you need to have a good understanding of the historical period but when in an exam don't be afraid to make things up that sound reasonable because most examiners don't care enough to be entirely sure
3) if you can't remember the year, don't guess but try giving a reasonable sort of time period (e.g. Mid 1930s). Do try to remember dates though because if an exam question asks for between certain periods then you will not get marks for information outside of this time period.
4) learn to fit what the mark scheme wants. For example, the edexcel mark scheme for every essay likes you to define a key word in the essay title and to consider this throughout the essay (e.g. To what extent did /all British/ people benefit from Thatcherism). Essentially if you know the mark scheme you know what the examiners are looking for- they are only trying to fit you into a band and if they see you do lots of the things the top band says then you're in!!
5) Make sure that you make judgements throughout!!! History is all about arguments and judgements and so it is so essential that you are discussing a well balanced argument. An easy to way to do this is by adding the words "fundamentally", "crucially", "significantly" and "turning point/catalyst". These words tell the examiner that you are making an argument!
6) cue cards are really helpful if you write out potential essay questions on one side and then one small line per paragraph on the other!!

Ultimately, good luck and I hope some of those are relevant to your exam board!! Start essays now!! History essays can be done anytime because most essays are related to one or two topics so just study the topic then write the essay (or study the topic by writing an incredible open book essay)
Thank you so much for the advice! That was great to read and honestly made me feel much for hopeful and really got me understanding what I should be doing right now, again I can't thank you enough!

So if you don't mind my asking what tips would you give in writing a really good history essay? I am self-taught and homeschooled so I don't have a teacher for advising me on such things so it's really down to myself being cirtical about my work so if you can pass me advice on that that'd be great!

Thank you again for the pointers above - I do often wonder how examiners decide whether an essay is at an A* level, grade A level or grade B level. I will definitely start using those key words!
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han1234678
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(Original post by transient life)
Thank you so much for the advice! That was great to read and honestly made me feel much for hopeful and really got me understanding what I should be doing right now, again I can't thank you enough!

So if you don't mind my asking what tips would you give in writing a really good history essay? I am self-taught and homeschooled so I don't have a teacher for advising me on such things so it's really down to myself being cirtical about my work so if you can pass me advice on that that'd be great!

Thank you again for the pointers above - I do often wonder how examiners decide whether an essay is at an A* level, grade A level or grade B level. I will definitely start using those key words!
Hey!!

I'm glad my advice was helpful!! In terms of writing history essays-
Mine are always 20 markers and have two styles;
Non source questions e.g. To what extent was ww2 a key catalyst to social reformation?

Okay so when considering this question the first thing that you would do in an exam is write a quick plan.

Below is the structure that I follow (intro, argument 1, argument 2, disagree 1, disagree 2 and conclusion) for a 20 mark question.

Introduction- this is where u talk about the context of the question- so in this question you might say things like "World War Two caused devastating impacts on the infrastructure of Great Britain and ultimately changed the way in which the country viewed itself and its future." The introduction should be short and sweet-my teacher reckons that you get very few marks from the introduction but u still need to make sure that it's catchy and sets the scene. I would recommend 3-4 sentences.

Yes I agree with the question - this is your strongest argument for agreeing with the question. This should be around 10 sentences at the minimum and should always end with a sentence that says something like "this means that ..... (eg- this fundamentally changed British values and led to an increased acceptance of government interference). The aim of this last sentence is to act as a mini conclusion to the argument

You should then do another supporting argument and two disagree arguments using the above formula

Finally, your conclusion is the most important part of the essay. This should be full of analytical words and phrases such as "crucial", "catalyst" "notably" and almost any other word which shows that you are making a judgement. Importantly, you need to reach a personal conclusion that is well founded and is well evidenced. You shouldn't do the whole "yes-but-no-but" argument but you can argue that multiple factors were involved.

Source question

Source questions are difficult because they are very much dependant on how many sources and of what kind. If you are asked to compare multiple sources then you should follow the above outline but in each paragraph discuss how the sources agree with each other and disagree but importantly you also need to include your own knowledge - this could be by saying "this is supported by my own knowledge of so and so" or "source A importantly draws into the discussion of.... when it argues that..." and the most successful but sometimes hardest "source A crucially ignores (insert important factor) which fundamentally reduces the usefulness of this source."

If you are just looking at one source then I recommend following a similar structure but there should be slightly more focus on your own knowledge. The key words discussed above are still hugely important and should be used throughout. My teacher recommends 8 quotations for a 20 mark source essay which should be thouroughly evaluated and discussed.

Another point to mention is that with source questions you should evaluate the source in terms of its origin and its intentions. This should be a seperate paragraph so that this easy for the markers to find it but also integrate some into the essay just to show that you can. This should include a consideration of whether it is a primary or secondary source, when it was published, who the intended readers were and what the purpose was. You could also consider the factuality of it based upon who wrote it eg a captain in the army is likely to have a reasonable idea of what is going on in the Crimea. Use this to support you in reaching a conclusion.

It can be really confusing getting to grips with mark schemes but I would recommend that you look into the exam board an specimen/past papers and look for the general mark schemes which will show you the marking bands and what they contain.- I attached a CIE A level history level band but there are others too!! Don't bother looking at the lower bands, just make sure u remember to do the upper bands and then you will make it extremely easy for examiners to say "yes this is definitely a smart kid". Also make sure that the quality of your writing is good, including key terminology and a good set of vocabulary. It is helpful to spend a few minutes after an exam checking through it

I hope this was helpful!! Please remember though that this is from my experience of Edexcel (2015) A level history spec and so I cannot guarantee the relevance of everything!! If you have any more questions then don't hesitate to ask!! I could send you some of my previous essays that are marked if that would help as well??
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_Hafsa
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(Original post by han1234678)
Hey!!

I'm glad my advice was helpful!! In terms of writing history essays-
Mine are always 20 markers and have two styles;
Non source questions e.g. To what extent was ww2 a key catalyst to social reformation?

Okay so when considering this question the first thing that you would do in an exam is write a quick plan.

Below is the structure that I follow (intro, argument 1, argument 2, disagree 1, disagree 2 and conclusion) for a 20 mark question.

Introduction- this is where u talk about the context of the question- so in this question you might say things like "World War Two caused devastating impacts on the infrastructure of Great Britain and ultimately changed the way in which the country viewed itself and its future." The introduction should be short and sweet-my teacher reckons that you get very few marks from the introduction but u still need to make sure that it's catchy and sets the scene. I would recommend 3-4 sentences.

Yes I agree with the question - this is your strongest argument for agreeing with the question. This should be around 10 sentences at the minimum and should always end with a sentence that says something like "this means that ..... (eg- this fundamentally changed British values and led to an increased acceptance of government interference). The aim of this last sentence is to act as a mini conclusion to the argument

You should then do another supporting argument and two disagree arguments using the above formula

Finally, your conclusion is the most important part of the essay. This should be full of analytical words and phrases such as "crucial", "catalyst" "notably" and almost any other word which shows that you are making a judgement. Importantly, you need to reach a personal conclusion that is well founded and is well evidenced. You shouldn't do the whole "yes-but-no-but" argument but you can argue that multiple factors were involved.

Source question

Source questions are difficult because they are very much dependant on how many sources and of what kind. If you are asked to compare multiple sources then you should follow the above outline but in each paragraph discuss how the sources agree with each other and disagree but importantly you also need to include your own knowledge - this could be by saying "this is supported by my own knowledge of so and so" or "source A importantly draws into the discussion of.... when it argues that..." and the most successful but sometimes hardest "source A crucially ignores (insert important factor) which fundamentally reduces the usefulness of this source."

If you are just looking at one source then I reccomend following a similar structure but there should be slightly more focus on your own knowledge. The key words discussed above are still hugely important and should be used throughout. My teacher recommends 8 quotations for a 20 mark source essay which should be thouroughly evaluated and discussed.

Another point to mention is that with source questions you should evaluate the source in terms of its origin and its intentions. This should be a seperate paragraph so that this easy for the markers to find it but also integrate some into the essay just to show that you can. This should include a consideration of whether it is a primary or secondary source, when it was published, who the intended readers were and what the purpose was. You could also consider the factuality of it based upon who wrote it eg a captain in the army is likely to have a reasonable idea of what is going on in the Crimea. Use this to support you in reaching a conclusion.

It can be really confusing getting to grips with mark schemes but I would recommend that you look into the exam board an specimen/past papers and look for the general mark schemes which will show you the marking bands and what they contain.- I attached a CIE A level history level band but there are others too!! Don't bother looking at the lower bands, just make sure u remember to do the upper bands and then you will make it extremely easy for examiners to say "yes this is definitely a smart kid". Also make sure that the quality of your writing is good, including key terminology and a good set of vocabulary. It is helpful to spend a few minutes after an exam checking through it

I hope this was helpful!! Please remember though that this is from my experience of Edexcel (2015) A level history spec and so I cannot guarantee the relevance of everything!! If you have any more questions then don't hesitate to ask!! I could send you some of my previous essays that are marked if that would help as well??

Hii
I'd just like to say that your advice was so useful, I'm currently in my AS year doing History with Edexcel, but since we sit all our exams at the end of the two years, we're working at A2 level, so this was very helpful!

Thank you
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han1234678
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Hii
I'd just like to say that your advice was so useful, I'm currently in my AS year doing History with Edexcel, but since we sit all our exams at the end of the two years, we're working at A2 level, so this was very helpful!

Thank you
You're welcome!! Edexcel are a really good exam board in my opinion!! They're very straight forward with their marking and so looking at level bands is soooo helpful lol

Good luck with your exams next year!!
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#16
(Original post by han1234678)
You're welcome!! Edexcel are a really good exam board in my opinion!! They're very straight forward with their marking and so looking at level bands is soooo helpful lol

Good luck with your exams next year!!
I was with Edexel during my GCSE History and I've had a good experience so far. Thank you !
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transient life
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#17
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#17
(Original post by han1234678)
Hey!!

I'm glad my advice was helpful!! In terms of writing history essays-
Mine are always 20 markers and have two styles;
Non source questions e.g. To what extent was ww2 a key catalyst to social reformation?

Okay so when considering this question the first thing that you would do in an exam is write a quick plan.

Below is the structure that I follow (intro, argument 1, argument 2, disagree 1, disagree 2 and conclusion) for a 20 mark question.

Introduction- this is where u talk about the context of the question- so in this question you might say things like "World War Two caused devastating impacts on the infrastructure of Great Britain and ultimately changed the way in which the country viewed itself and its future." The introduction should be short and sweet-my teacher reckons that you get very few marks from the introduction but u still need to make sure that it's catchy and sets the scene. I would recommend 3-4 sentences.

Yes I agree with the question - this is your strongest argument for agreeing with the question. This should be around 10 sentences at the minimum and should always end with a sentence that says something like "this means that ..... (eg- this fundamentally changed British values and led to an increased acceptance of government interference). The aim of this last sentence is to act as a mini conclusion to the argument

You should then do another supporting argument and two disagree arguments using the above formula

Finally, your conclusion is the most important part of the essay. This should be full of analytical words and phrases such as "crucial", "catalyst" "notably" and almost any other word which shows that you are making a judgement. Importantly, you need to reach a personal conclusion that is well founded and is well evidenced. You shouldn't do the whole "yes-but-no-but" argument but you can argue that multiple factors were involved.

Source question

Source questions are difficult because they are very much dependant on how many sources and of what kind. If you are asked to compare multiple sources then you should follow the above outline but in each paragraph discuss how the sources agree with each other and disagree but importantly you also need to include your own knowledge - this could be by saying "this is supported by my own knowledge of so and so" or "source A importantly draws into the discussion of.... when it argues that..." and the most successful but sometimes hardest "source A crucially ignores (insert important factor) which fundamentally reduces the usefulness of this source."

If you are just looking at one source then I recommend following a similar structure but there should be slightly more focus on your own knowledge. The key words discussed above are still hugely important and should be used throughout. My teacher recommends 8 quotations for a 20 mark source essay which should be thouroughly evaluated and discussed.

Another point to mention is that with source questions you should evaluate the source in terms of its origin and its intentions. This should be a seperate paragraph so that this easy for the markers to find it but also integrate some into the essay just to show that you can. This should include a consideration of whether it is a primary or secondary source, when it was published, who the intended readers were and what the purpose was. You could also consider the factuality of it based upon who wrote it eg a captain in the army is likely to have a reasonable idea of what is going on in the Crimea. Use this to support you in reaching a conclusion.

It can be really confusing getting to grips with mark schemes but I would recommend that you look into the exam board an specimen/past papers and look for the general mark schemes which will show you the marking bands and what they contain.- I attached a CIE A level history level band but there are others too!! Don't bother looking at the lower bands, just make sure u remember to do the upper bands and then you will make it extremely easy for examiners to say "yes this is definitely a smart kid". Also make sure that the quality of your writing is good, including key terminology and a good set of vocabulary. It is helpful to spend a few minutes after an exam checking through it

I hope this was helpful!! Please remember though that this is from my experience of Edexcel (2015) A level history spec and so I cannot guarantee the relevance of everything!! If you have any more questions then don't hesitate to ask!! I could send you some of my previous essays that are marked if that would help as well??
Hiya
Once again, thank you so much for another yet massively helpful post! I am saving all these because they're just so good advice! Looking at my mark scheme it is quite similar in that they want us to analyse everything so thank you especially for reminding me the examiners don't really have time to check everything 100% so as long as you've got those key words and things, and it reads well, you score the marks since they are trying to put you in that band as you explained.

It would be great if you did attach you essays for reference although what topics are you doing? Also are you doing your AS this year or A2?
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octoberrain
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#18
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#18
THANK GOD SOMEONE ELSE ON HERE!!!!
I'm doing my AS with CIE and I'm freaking outttt
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octoberrain
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#19
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#19
(Original post by Dorothee)
Hi!
Thank youu for all the nice things you said- it swells my heart hahaha. So I did not take the same options as you did- I took the international option for both papers. Search for international peace and security for paper 1 and for paper 2 I took international relations.
I am really just an average student though but you have to put in the work if you want to see good grades. And you're really fine if you are going to begin reading now- it will give you ample time. I actually began reading for AS in April and it was such a crazy roller-coaster that I would never make that mistake again so starting now is pretty much perfect!
Okay so there's something tricky with A2s. One, they are A LOT more tougher than AS and the reading just has to be gosh, on a scale of one to ten, read at 11 and do past papers at 15. Literally. Also, they made amends to the syllabus (2nd page of the syllabus) and this is really important. I actually had overlooked it until my IGCSE History teacher who is also our coach now (God bless that lady) mentioned it. So if you have done an international module at AS, at A2, you will have to take up a different area i.e. Europe. For your case, since you're taking Liberalism and Nationalism of Italy and Germany for paper 1 and The French Revolution and Industrial Revolution for paper 2, you will have to take The Holocaust or Origins of the Cold War for paper 3 and History of the US or International History for Paper 4- you will have to step outside Europe since you have done it at AS level.
Oh and my codes for paper 3 and 4 are 32 and 42. What are yours?
And the scheme of work is not the mark scheme. Cambridge basically just has it lying around on their website for the teachers (so inconsiderate to self-taught students) but since I have my IGCSE teacher, she saves our lives by getting them for us.I would have passed on my AS ones via email but I only have the international options and also my A2 options.
Regardless though, you should be fine. You'll have to do more past papers and read extra extra hard.
I wish you all the best and I hope you do manage to finish reading on time because reading for 4 papers is a little bit intense. But stay positive, get your sleep and try to have fun while you're at it hahaha I know it sounds impossible but try. Also, if there's anything else you need, let me know!!
Goodluck!
Congrats on your A in AS, that's what I'm aiming for as well! What techniques did you use to revise? Just past papers and reading?
What exactly is the scheme of work and why is it helpful?
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Dorothee
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#20
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#20
(Original post by octoberrain)
Congrats on your A in AS, that's what I'm aiming for as well! What techniques did you use to revise? Just past papers and reading?
What exactly is the scheme of work and why is it helpful?
Hiii! Thank youu!
Yes, I did papers and reading. But really if it comes down to it, it's not just papers and reading. The reading is a loooot. I mean when I read, I could not just rely on my textbook; I went online to look for articles and googled Historians like a maniac hahaha. It was worth it. I'd do it all over again. For an A, read a topic extensively; get all the information you need an then choose a question based on what you read from past papers. Really, this is simply the key. Getting used to answering the questions with the allocated time and making sure you can replicate that in an examination condition.
The scheme of work is the teachers guide. It's the manual for what teachers should focus on and what they should not focus on. It is extremely handy if you're one of the students (AKA me) who one does not have a teacher and two needs extra extra essays to get it. Also, these extra extra essays are mostly the ones that come in examination questions; just phrased differently so in reality, you're killing two birds with one stone!!
Good luck
Hope you get the A you're aiming for!
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