How to Write the Perfect History Essay

If you’re reading this in the UK and you are 16 or older, you will probably know by know that there is a big jump in complexity between GCSEs and AS level exams in history. In this series of articles, I am going to try to address some of the most fundamental issues that you are likely to face in the course of your A level.

Firstly, let’s talk about essays and how to effectively write them; if you are anything like I was when I was 17, you might be finding this aspect of learning extremely frustrating.

I believed that by simply writing as much as possible on a given topic, the examiner would see that I knew all about it and give me a good mark. Examiners set the questions that they do in order to give you an opportunity to demonstrate your ability to think, argue and judge, so your first principal should always be to focus of argument over storytelling.

So a strong line of argument involves you being a little bit opinionated, and being well read enough to sustain your opinions (it is no use being opinionated and arguing unsustainable positions because of a lack of knowledge).

This is the point of your introduction, it is the place where announce your argument, where you respond to the question and tell the examiner what you think (and show off the skills you will be marked on).

In the next article I will show you how to write an introduction to a history essay, then we’ll look at the main body of your writing.

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