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How to structure A-level History Edexcel Question?

I’m taking Paper 1: America Dream
Paper 2: India’s road to independence (structure I mostly struggle with especially with source questions)
Paper 3: British Empire.
And how do we use criteria!! It’s the one thing that frustrates me along with source questions.
I did different topics to you (Germany and West Germany, Liberal and Fascist Italy, British experience of Warfare), but I did the same exam board, so I’ll see if I can help, as I somehow got an A* at a level.

Criteria is a weird concept, but think of it as “how would I measure success/change/significance etc?”

Let’s say you are trying to measure the success of an economy. How would you do this? Well, you’d think about for how long it was successful for perhaps, the types of people it positively impacted, the number of people it positively impacted, the number of areas it positively impacted, e.g education, business etc. And that’s your criteria; Long term, scope, scale ( and scope again for the last one)These were the criteria I used for success questions. I usually picked two out of these for each essay.

Introduce the criteria in your introduction, telling the reader how you will eventually come to your conclusion. Then make 3 points in 3 paragraphs.

For each paragraph:
Point, evidence, explain, link back to question, judgement (where you bring in criteria) At the end of each paragraph, refer to your criteria, saying whether the facts you have stated in the paragraphs match your criteria. For example, if you find that the economy ( in my instance, Germany) positively impacted a large scale of people, a large scope of people, and had a positive long term impact, you’d say this economy was successful. And vice versa, if it was unsuccessful, it may have only benefited the upper classes for instance (limited scope)

Then in your conclusion once again bring in your criteria.

For source questions, I used scale or scope. Does the source address a significant scale of time? I also used nature, origin and purpose of the source (which are also criteria). This was my criteria for source questions. (I know each source question is different however).

Paper 1: my interps were different to yours, but ours was always about why WW2 began, and the most convincing interpretation. Follow same structure as above, don’t use the provenance. 2 paras on each extract.
Paper 2: how can the sources be used together? E.g Do they both address the same period of time? this may be a limitation, limited understanding of the whole time period for example. If they address different perspectives, may be better used together, offer 2 differing viewpoints gives us a wider scope of understanding. It’s really up to you how you structure the question overall, but I’d say 2 paras, and a similar structure to the one mentioned above. Do use provenance.

Paper 3: which enquiry does the source best answer? Use same criteria as paper 2 source, use provenance. 2 paras, one on each source.

If you need more help, please don’t hesitate to ask :smile:
Thank you so so much for this answer!! You’ve helped me understand what criteria is faster than my teacher telling me it’s just “judgement” at the end of every paragraph! I also love how you structure each paragraph I will forever use this.

I just wanted to ask a few questions just to clear things up for myself. I kinda struggle with the basic stuff but understand the content really well.

For the introduction, how would you thread the criteria into it? Something I find sorta difficult. You said introduce 3 points of each paragraph. Does that also mean each point should have a criteria? (This would make sense because I would have to refer back to it as you’ve said)

Now the source question part is confusing 😵*💫 Mostly because we did different time periods. Could you explain more about the scale and scope method within source questions?

One thing you suggested for Paper 1 was write 2 paragraphs on each extract. I was taught to write 3 paragraphs (2 debating paragraphs and 1 just talking about provenance) unlike in Paper 2 & 3 we follow the same structure you’ve recommended. Should I keep it to that? Or change it to your structure? I must say, I do struggle with writing a paragraph with just provenance alone.

So sorry if I asked too many questions, I’m just trying to push my B into an A/A* so every little detail helps. Thank you so much again!
Original post by RevisionisKey1
Thank you so so much for this answer!! You’ve helped me understand what criteria is faster than my teacher telling me it’s just “judgement” at the end of every paragraph! I also love how you structure each paragraph I will forever use this.

I just wanted to ask a few questions just to clear things up for myself. I kinda struggle with the basic stuff but understand the content really well.

For the introduction, how would you thread the criteria into it? Something I find sorta difficult. You said introduce 3 points of each paragraph. Does that also mean each point should have a criteria? (This would make sense because I would have to refer back to it as you’ve said)

Now the source question part is confusing 😵*💫 Mostly because we did different time periods. Could you explain more about the scale and scope method within source questions?

One thing you suggested for Paper 1 was write 2 paragraphs on each extract. I was taught to write 3 paragraphs (2 debating paragraphs and 1 just talking about provenance) unlike in Paper 2 & 3 we follow the same structure you’ve recommended. Should I keep it to that? Or change it to your structure? I must say, I do struggle with writing a paragraph with just provenance alone.

So sorry if I asked too many questions, I’m just trying to push my B into an A/A* so every little detail helps. Thank you so much again!

No worries!

For the intro, this is what I always used, in every A level essay. This example uses the FRG economy as an example.

It could certainly be argued that the economy of the FRG was in fact successful. For instance, Brandts social reforms, and how the government dealt with the 1973 oil crisis. Yet it must be addressed, that the post war destruction caused by the allies did have a detrimental impact on the economy itself (my 3 points). To come to a sustained judgement, a greater analysis of the scope of people positively effected by the FRG economy, and whether this success was long term will be discussed. Yet, ultimately, it will be argued that to a a large extent the FRG economy was in fact successful.

Here I have outlined my criteria: scale and scope. These same criteria are used for every one of the three points I have made. I am measuring them all against the same criteria. I have also concluded in the intro, which is also important.

Here is a sample para including criteria.

It could certainly be argued that Brandts social reforms etc… [insert evidence]. However it could be contended [add a mini counterargument which directly contradicts this point you’ve made. This is A* level with the mini counterargument. DISPUTE this mini counterargument if you want to argue in favour of the point you’ve made, using criteria] however, the scope of Brandts social policies was significant with both the middle and working classes benefiting from their implementation. Moreover, they were long term, and his economic policies survived until the late 1980s. Comprehensively therefore, it would be a strong argument to suggest the FRG economy was in fact successful [link back to q, v important]

Do this 3 times, using your same criteria- scope, Long term.

You don’t talk about provenance in paper 1 with the interpretations. But you do in papers 2+3.

For the source questions. It is really up to you if you do 3 paras. The reality is, in the exam you may not have time. That’s why I threaded mine through each paragraph in the exam. I always felt like I had to mention provenance when I was writing the rest of the paras. At A-level do what works for you, maybe try an essay threading it throughout and get a teacher to mark it, see what they think.

scale and scope in source questions
It does have a different meaning in source questions to the regular essays. Scope in the source scenario means, how far does the source reach? Does it talk about many elements of something, or just one? If the source only addresses one time period, it is limited in scope. If it talks about many time periods, it’s scope is large, so it is useful alone. You only need this for paper 2 and 3, not the interps q in paper 1.

paper 1 interps
In the paper 1 interps q: in your intro, “characterise your causes”. Outline in your intro, what each historian is arguing. This is where more criteria comes in. Criteria that I haven’t yet mentioned. Each interp should outline a cause of something (idk what yours is however). What sort of cause is it? See below…


There are different criteria for different types of questions.

causation questions:
was the factor a trigger, underlying cause, root cause?

significance questions:
scale, scope, long term/short term

Paper 2 source
how far can the sources be used together?

let’s say source 1 is limited in scope, and so is source 2. The sources being used together may be useful. However, if one source is very limited in scope, and the other is not limited in scope, then the source not limited in scope may be more useful alone.

Regarding paper 2 and 3: nature, origin and purpose (your provenance) are basically your criteria. Scope is also your criteria, which could be part of provenance too. That’s why I’d thread provenance throughout the essay.

I would really like to send you a sample essay so I can explain this better. I’m not really sure how the SR works, but would direct message on the student room work? Hope this helps :smile:
(edited 3 months ago)
Thank you so much again! Reading your answer is making me feel like I can write an A* essay confidently now!

I would love to direct message, I’m new to SR too so I’ll hit you up. And sort something out.

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