• General A level History help

I decided to write a mini guide for those of you studying A level History and in particular, the Edexcel examination board for History I've written this in mind of my own experiences and the other posts I've helped with.

You don't have to follow this. In fact there are many other ways of achieving your full potential. Finally, the full page is here

Additionally, watch out for the History superthread coming out soon!


How to Revise for A level History

The revision should be broken into -

  • Knowledge of the topic
  • Exam technique

Knowledge of the topic

In terms of the exam, nothing will be more important than knowing your topic back to front for the exam.

The following are helpful

  • Bulletpointing chapters, or sections of chapters in books
  • Creating cue cards in order to improve on-the-spot recollection of knowledge
  • End of topic questions in your textbook
  • Past papers

If you have more time on your hands

  • Try reading some historiography on your subject. e.g. Germany responsible for pursuing a campaign of aggression and conquest [Fischer]
  • Read articles from credible sources to deepen your knowledge.
  • Have discussions with other people doing the same unit as you, about particular events.

Exam technique

At every stage you want to balance your argument against counter arguments. Always argue extent - which factor was most important, and why? You're working with balancing the various influences.

Historiography fits in here, too. Different historians and schools of history have different weights on different aspects. Compare the evidentiary support for their conclusions and situate your own argument within their work. One way to do this is to qualify their arguments, to extend their conclusions to a different period, region, or aspect of history than they worked in, or to synthesise different approaches.

More help here

A more general revision technique can be found here

Exam lengths and UMS breakdown


Unit 1 – 1 hour 20mins (80 mins)
Unit 2 - 1 hour 20mins (80 mins)
Unit 3 – 2 hours (120 mins)

Breakdown of units maximum scores

Unit 1 - 100 UMS – 50% of AS and 25% of total A level
Unit 2 - 100 UMS - 50% of AS and 25% of total A level

AS = 200 UMS

Unit 3 - 120 UMS - 60% of A2 and 30% of total A level
Unit 4 (coursework/historical investigation) - 80 UMS - 40% of A2 and 20% of total A level

A Level = 400 UMS Max –

How is each exam paper broken down into, mark wise?

Unit 1
  • Two questions – 30 marks each
  • 60 marks in total
  • I recommend spending 5 mins max planning the answer to the question and 40 mins of solid writing per question.
  • Even of you run out of time for one question, conclude it and move on.
Unit 2
  • Two questions – Section a) 20 marks. Section b) 40 marks
  • 60 Marks in total
  • No more than 25-30 minutes should be spent on Section A
  • You should aim to spend 50-55 minutes on Section B
  • Section A is a source-based answer and does not require an own knowledge based response apart from provenance
  • Section B is a combined source and own knowledge based response and the source should guide your answer. Aim for 50/50 ratio of own knowledge and Source based answering But don’t make them separate. Make sure they’re weaved in together to show you can use both skills at once.
Unit 3
  • Two questions – Section a) 30 marks. Section b) 40 marks
  • 70 marks in total
  • 50-55 minutes, including planning should be spent on Section A
  • 65-70 minutes, including planning should be spent on Section B
  • Both units assume you have a understanding of the different historical perspectives relating to the question. Therefore historiography, not provenance is the most important aspect to understand when evaluating different perspectives.


Unit 1

  • Written Paper, 1 hour 15 minutes
  • 50% of total AS marks, 25% of total A Level marks
  • Written paper chosen from one of 13 options. Two questions to be answered from a choice of three two-part questions.
  • Tests Understanding of change over time

Unit 2

  • Written Paper, 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 50% of total AS marks, 25% of total A Level marks
  • Written paper chosen from one of 18 options. One compulsory two-part, source-based question + one structured two-part question from a choice of two.

Unit 3

  • Written Paper, 1 hour 30 minutes
  • 30% of total A Level marks
  • Written paper chosen from one of 13 options. Two essay questions to be answered from a choice of three.
  • Tests understanding both in depth and breadth
  • Tests understanding of a significant period of history in depth

Unit 4

  • 20% of total A Level marks
  • Coursework
  • 3500 words
  • Analysis of historical issue
  • Understanding change over 100 years
  • Choice of topics – from range provided by AQA or devised by centre
  • Internally assessed by centre and moderated by AQA





So what how well do I need to score to get the grade?

Grades A-C , it is standard in terms of UMS.


Total UMS = 200

A = 160 - 200 UMS (80% and above)
B = 140 - 159 UMS (70% and above
C = 120 - 139 UMS (60% and above)
D = 100 - 119 UMS (50% and above)
E = 80 - 99 UMS (40% and above)
U = 0 - 79 UMS (0% and above)


Total UMS = 400

A = 320/400
B = 280/400
C = 240/400
D = 200/400
E = 180/400

How to get A* in A level History?


You need to average 80% (A grade) in the A level and 90% average in A2. For example -

Unit 1 - 80 %
Unit 2 - 80 %

Unit 3 - 90 %
Unit 4 - 90 %
Average - 85% (A grade)

Grade - A*


Revision Sites

History Revision

Past paper sites - External

bank - covers all options
AQA bank
OCR A bank
OCR B bank
WJEC bank
CIE bank

Past Paper links - on TSR

Russia in revolution (edexcel) practice question bank
Stalin's Russia (edexcel) practice question bank



Examiners reports


Specimen papers


Try Learn together, TSR's study area

revision notes




a study planner

of discussions

Does your body insecurities make you avoid PE or exercise?
Study resources

The Student Room, Get Revising and Marked by Teachers are trading names of The Student Room Group Ltd.

Register Number: 04666380 (England and Wales), VAT No. 806 8067 22 Registered Office: International House, Queens Road, Brighton, BN1 3XE