Hey, I agree with sickofthis's great advice here, but just wanted to add a few things:
When you say a 'thematic' essay, I would actually say there are two different types of thematic essay for Russia A-level:
1) a factor essay, e.g. 'Liberal discontent was the main reason for the February 1917 Revolution. Assess the validity of this view in the years 1894-1917.' In this case, your essay needs to analyse how 3 (max 4) factors, including liberal discontent, contributed to the Feb Rev, and come to a judgement on whether liberal discontent was the most important reason or whether it was a different factor. I would personally structure this kind of essay like:
-Intro: 1 brief sentence setting the context (and often you don't even need this)
1 sentence setting out the factors, e.g. 'The discontent of liberals, poor living and working conditions, and the First World War all contributed to the outbreak of the February Revolution in 1917'
1 sentence giving a judgement on which factor was the most important in causing the event, e.g. 'However, it was the cumulative effect of poor living and working conditions that was the most significant factor in causing the Revolution.'
-First paragraph (write about the GIVEN factor here, i.e. liberal discontent):
*Give a signpost sentence/snappy point on how this factor contributed to the Revolution. E.g. 'Liberal discontent was partially responsible for causing the February Revolution, since dissatisfied Kadets both created a revolutionary atmosphere and provided a viable alternative to autocracy.'
*Then give relevant examples that show the point, and which span most of the time period given. Analyse how these examples show that liberal discontent helped cause the February Revolution- don't just give examples showing liberals were discontent, but rather do this AND show how this led them to e.g. make revolutionary speeches or start discussions with the Military High Command to put pressure on the Tsar to resign. That way, you're analysing and linking back to the question.
*Then give a snappy judgement at the end of the paragraph too, that again summarises how that factor helped cause the event given.
-Basically, repeat the above for two other factors (your first paragraph should always be the given factor, and your last one should be the factor you think was the most important if you don't think it was the given factor).
-Ideally, do brief counter-arguments for the two factors you don't think were the most important. These can just be literally a sentence or two after those two paragraphs, making a point about why they weren't the most important factor.
-Conclusion: Summarise how each of the factors contributed, but come to a clear judgement on which one was the most important and why.
2) an non-factor essay like 'The Russian economy was transformed in the years 1881-1914. To what extent do you agree with this view?'
-In this case, although it would be tempting to use a yes/no approach as you might on the other side of the History course, that tends not to get the higher marks, and it's instead better to consider the question through 3 different themes or lenses.
I would structure it like this:
-Intro: 1 brief context sentence if necessary
1 sentence setting out the 3 themes and giving a judgement, e.g. 'While Russian agriculture, industrial exports, and size of workforce all increased sinificantly in this period, overall the Russian economy did not see enough progress to be able to call it a transformation.
-First para: Signpost sentence makin a judgement about the extent of change/transformation in agriculture
Relevant examples showing/evidencing this
SPS summing up the overall extent of change in agriculture
-Then repeat with the 2 other themes, again showing to what extent each did or didnt show a transformation.
-Conclusion summing up what your themes show about the question, and making a judgement on to what extent the overall Russian economy saw a transformation, based on wat youve argued and shown in each of your themes.
Finally, in either essay, you MUST also analyse continuity and change, i.e. how each factor changed over time, which is essential for the Russia part of the course. I.e., did industry start off improvin at a really fast pace in the 1880s, but then slow down and therefore cant be seen as a transformation? Or for example, did liberal discontent start off at low levels in 1894, but by 1917 the cumulative effect of disappointment after dissapointment at Nicolas II lead the liberals to become revolutionary and thus contribute to the Feb Rev?
Apologies for writing such a long response, and I am by no means an expert on this so there are ofc loads of other potential structures etc that would work. This is just what my teacher recommended! hope it is helpful in some way