JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - How to revise for A Level History

How to revise for A Level History?

How to study for A Level History?
The study of A Level History requires carefully planning and execution to make significant progress in your preparation for the examinations. Apart from the identification of common errors, development of SBQ answering techniques and essay writing skills, it is imperative that you have organised your study materials and practice questions. Therefore, in this issue, we will focusing on various aspects of revision to guide you through this meaningful journey that leads you to the goal of attaining A at the A Level History examination.

Step 1. Arrange your materials
Start your revision by arranging your learning materials that you have received. By organising your own notes, essays and SBQs, you are also de-cluttering your mind. This approach is important as it ensures that you are clear on where to source for the relevant information should the need arises.

One useful way is to separate your materials by Themes or Topics. For example, the Topic on Cold War, which features a three-part series [Emergence of Bipolarity, World divided by the Cold War and End of Bipolarity], can be organised as one individual set of materials. You can consider using a file divider or even a colored A4 paper as a make-shift divider.

Within each set of materials, make sure that you have separated them into the following: (i) Notes (ii) Questions [Essays/SBQs]. For Notes, you are encouraged to include a summary cover page to list down the areas of study (which will be elaborated later below). As for Questions, you can organise them into ‘Basic’ and ‘Challenging’ types.

Step 2. Plan your timetable
Now that you have organised your learning materials, the second step involves the development of a personal timetable. A timetable is important as it helps you to set priorities on your daily tasks, be it academic, recreational or personal matters. As quoted by many, ‘Fail to plan, plan to fail’. Getting your priorities right will ensure that you stay committed and focused on the ultimate aim of acing the A Level History examinations.

To get started, you can use a physical or online daily planner to organise your time. For example, you can use an Excel Spreadsheet that display the monthly calendar. First, fill in the time-slots that you are certain of, like the classes at school. Second, include time-slots that you want to revise for History, as well as other subjects. Personally, I am of the opinion that one day’s worth of revision should not exceed two subjects. For instance, your revision in one full day can be as such: History from morning till mid-afternoon; General Paper from mid-afternoon till late evening.

Step 3. Take notes during revision
In the context of A Level History, it is understandable that some students may dread the revision process as it requires thorough reading and comprehension of facts and figures. However, that is only partially true as students are not expected to regurgitate every single piece of information that they have access to. The third step involves the process of taking notes. This means that you take a given set of materials, then re-organise and summarise the essential parts that can be used for the examination questions.

There are many ways to take notes while reading the materials. One of the most common practices is writing out the points on a separate piece of paper. For some students, they have the preference of creating ‘mind-maps’ to form mental images of the information. Others may have the inclination to type the points out in soft copy and compile the pointers by topics or themes. Try out different approaches to determine your preference for note-taking.

Here are some useful pointers to guide you in your note-taking experience:
– List down the key events that took place. Include a brief description of the incident with the following considerations, like ‘what happened’, ‘why did it happen’ and ‘how does it relate to the topic of study’
– Create a timeline to obtain a clearer picture of the events that occurred in relation to the topic of study [For example, set a timeline of what happened before the Cold War began] 
– Leave out the intricate details in your personalised set of notes. Remember, you can always refer to your original copy of learning materials, like the additional readings or even online sources, if the need arises. Focus on the idea of preparing a condensed version of your notes  

Step 4. Attempt and review practice questions
After the note-taking process has concluded, assess its applicability by answering essay or source-based case study questions. By attempting questions, you can find out whether the information listed in your condensed notes are of relevance to the examination. If it is your first time preparing a personalised set of notes, do not be discouraged if you have left out any information. Revisit the original set of study materials and add the relevant parts into your notes.

Typically, the original set of notes should contain the examples and supplementary information to back up a common argument to a historical perspective. However, the notes may lack elaboration that provides direction in the discussion of the examination questions. Therefore, you can consider using a ‘basic’ question to organise your materials more effectively. For example, in the Paper 1 topic of United Nations, set a generic question, like the ‘Factors affecting the political effectiveness of the United Nations in the Cold War period’ to arrange your notes. Clearly, it would make more sense to re-organise your content from separate Case Studies into specific factors, since examination questions tend to focuses on the reasons why the UN was successful in certain cases.

Bonus: Keep trying!
Now that you have identified the basic methods to revise for A Level History, what matters most is that you incorporate these tips into your revision programme. Grasping historical concepts and mastering the ‘Art of Writing’ do not happen overnight. Persistence and consistent application are the key ingredients to realise your goal. Besides, you can also consider joining our JC History Tuition classes, which will give you exclusive access to condensed summary notes and practice questions to prepare you for the complexities of the A Level History examinations.

Also, we offer GP Tuition and Economics Tuition programmes that are effective in nurturing the right set of thinking and writing skills that bring you closer to grade A. Know that you are not alone in this enriching journey. With the help of our experienced tutors, we are certain that you have all the required resources to realise this goal of doing well for the A Level examinations. What matters is that you have the will to act. Are you ready?

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What caused the end of the Cold War - JC History SBQ Skills

What caused the end of the Cold War?

Why did the Cold War come to an end? 
In this three-part series, we have learnt how the Cold War began and how it expanded beyond Europe [as seen in the Korean War, Cuban Missile Crisis and Vietnam War]. Lastly, we will be looking at how the Cold War ended.

Topic of Study [For H2 and H1 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Cold War (1945-1991)
Section A: Source-based Case Study
Theme I Chapter 3: End of Bipolarity

1. Economic collapse of the Soviet Union 
One of the leading arguments put forth by historians is that the Soviet Union was affected by a sluggish economy that hindered its efforts to keep up with the arms race aspect of the Cold War. From 1964 to 1982, Gorbachev’s predecessors had expended vast amounts of state funds and resources to achieve nuclear parity with USA. Given that military arms accumulation had negligible benefits to the economic prosperity of the country, its people had to bear the consequences, such as the fall in production of consumer goods and decline in living standards.

2. Ineffective economic, social and political reforms 
Under the leadership of Mikhail Gorbachev (1985-1991), the Soviet Union had undergone a drastic reform that affected its political, economic and social developments.

One such policy is Glasnost, which implies ‘openness’. This policy demonstrated Gorbachev’s willingness to accept new (and Western) ideas into the Soviet Union. Also, the people were allowed to state their views towards the government’s policies openly. However, this seemingly-democratic approach gave rise to unintended open criticisms that damaged the government’s credibility. For instance, the disastrous Chernobyl incident (Apr 1986) was exposed.

The second policy is Perestroika, which refers to ‘restructuring’. This approach involved the political and economic reforms that sought to blend both capitalist and central planning concepts into the domestic markets. For example, state enterprises were allowed to decide the level of production to meet consumer demand. At the same time, the government had full control over the means of production for these enterprises, thus restricting the latter’s ability to manage the cost of production. Eventually, the policy backfired. By early 1990s, Gross National Product (GNP) decreased by 2%. Many households suffered from food shortages as the country experienced high inflation rates and a devaluation of the Soviet Ruble against the US Dollar. Therefore, poor policy implementation contributed to the growing anti-government resentments that led up to the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

3. The Sinatra Doctrine [Oct 1989] 
The aptly-named ‘Sinatra Doctrine‘ was a stark contrast to the Brezhnev Doctrine, as the former hinted at the notion that the Soviet government allowed more political autonomy to be granted to the satellite states (which formed the Warsaw Pact states). Initially, these satellites were ruled with an iron fist, as exemplified by the authoritarian responses to act on potential dissent and challenge to Moscow (e.g. end of the Hungarian Revolution in 1956).

On 7 December 1988, Gorbachev addressed the United Nations General Assembly. He supported the “principle of freedom of choice” by acknowledging it as a “universal principle to which there should be exceptions”. As a result, the satellite states interpreted Gorbachev’s statement as a clear indication that the Soviet Union would not intervene should they choose to form independent governments.

1989 was a significant year as the world witnessed a series of revolutions in Eastern Europe. The disintegration of the satellite states began in Poland, followed by other neighbouring countries, like Hungary, Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. This process culminated in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, which symbolised the reunification of Germany in 1990.

4. Dissolution of the Soviet Union (Dec 1991)
After observing the disintegration of the satellite states in Eastern Europe, many Soviet hardliners began to doubt Gorbachev’s intentions to address the challenges of the Soviet Union. Following the ineffective political and economic reforms of Glasnost and Perestroika, Gorbachev turned to a last-ditch effort to salvage the situation by proposing the Union Treaty that sought to create a voluntary federation in an increasingly democratised Soviet Union. However, Gorbachev was met with strong rejection by the hardliners. The country experienced a period of political instability.

During the attempted coup in August 1991, Gorbachev was placed under house arrest. Clearly, he had lost political influence. As such, Gorbachev resigned as the General Secretary and requested to dissolve all communist-related groups in the Soviet Union. Hence, Soviet Communism was no more. On 26 December 1991, the dissolution of the Soviet Union led to the creation of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).

Therefore, the decline of the Soviet Union meant that the Cold War was no longer relevant.

What’s Next?
Now that you have covered the entire spectrum of the Cold War study, it is important to take note of the following considerations to reinforce your learning of this theme:
– How did USA contribute to the end of the Cold War?  
– Did Gorbachev play the most important role in causing the end of the Cold War? [class discussion]

Improve your study of A Level History topics by attending our JC History Tuition programmes that are available for both JC1 and JC2 students. We conduct regular tuition classes for students who are taking either H1 or H2 History. These lessons include content re-teaching and skills-based development for SBQ and essay writing skills. Additionally, engage in class discussions to broaden your understanding of these historical issues, such that you can comprehend the significance of factors and form the arguments more logically and thoroughly.

On the other hand, join our GP Tuition classes to explore different current affairs issues and acquire proficient writing skills to answer A Level Comprehension and Essay questions. Our experienced JC GP Tutors will guide you through the analysis of thematic topics and impart you with the skills to ace the A Level General Paper examinations.

Besides, register for the Economics Tuition classes to examine economics issues in this complex day and age. Learn how to apply the concepts of Microeconomics and Macroeconomics to the analysis of CSQs (case study questions) and essay questions. Under the guidance of our JC Economics Tutors, rest assured that you will be ready for the A Level Economics examinations.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What caused the end of the Golden Age of Capitalism - JC History SBQ Skills

What caused the end of the Golden Age of Capitalism?

What led to the end of the Golden Age of Capitalism?
As the world observed a sustained period of phenomenal growth that accelerated the pace of economic development in many countries, problems began to emerge. The feasibility of existing international financial systems and frameworks, such as the Bretton Woods System, began to exhibit flaws that hindered growth. Eventually, the Golden Age of Capitalism came to an end.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 2: Reasons for problems of the global economy 

In the following section, we will focus on the key factors that have contributed to the decline in the global economy.

1. Collapse of the Bretton Woods System [15 Aug 1971]
Initially, the Bretton Woods System was essential in creating financial stability through the fixed exchange rate system that pegged the U.S. dollar against gold [USD 35 per ounce of gold]. However, excessive domestic spending [Great Society program] and military expenditure in foreign campaigns [Vietnam War] caused the American dollar to be overvalued. This meant that USA was unable to provide adequate gold to match the vast volume of dollars in international circulation.

As a result, speculators foresaw the U.S government seeking to devalue USD, creating a widespread panic to sell the currency. Market pessimism was pervasive. Eventually, it culminated in the historic moment in August 1971, when American President, Richard Nixon, declared the suspension of the dollar-to-gold convertibility, signalling the end of the fixed exchange rate system. As such, many countries were given the choice to adopt fixed or flexible exchange rates, resulting in declining stock prices, rising oil prices and bank failures.

2. Twin Oil Shocks [1973 and 1979] 
In addition to collapse of the Bretton Woods System, there were two disastrous events that led to skyrocketing oil prices and declining economies, also known as the Twin Oil Shocks of the 1970s.

The first oil shock took place in 1973-1974, which was attributed to the actions of the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC, in short). The OPEC sought to undermine USA for its provision of support to Israel in the Yom Kippur War [part of the longstanding Arab-Israeli War] by imposing an oil embargo. As a result of the sudden artificial shortage of oil, oil prices surged from $3 per barrel to $12 per barrel in one year. Consequently, the increase in oil prices had devastating impacts on the affected economies. Given that oil was an essential resource for production, many businesses declined. In contrast, OPEC benefited from the gains in revenue due to the sale of oil at artificially high prices.

The second oil shock occurred in 1979 due to the Iranian Revolution. Oil production was once again cut, causing an increase in price of oil. This had a severe impact on the developed economies, especially USA. Firms in oil-dependent industries, like car manufacturers, were undermined by this development. Furthermore, consumers had difficulty coping with the increase in price of fuel for domestic usage.

3. Third World Debt Crisis [1980s]
The Third World Debt Crisis was a regional economic challenge that plagued developing nations in the early 1980s. Countries, such as Mexico, were unable to finance the external debts. Although international financial institutions, like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) extended loans and aid to these countries, their efforts were inadequate to resolve the persistent debts.

Furthermore, the twin oil shocks of the 1970s had worsened the government deficits, causing many Third World countries to suffer from the longstanding debt issue. For example, the Mexican government’s budget deficit was at 16.3% of its Gross National Product (GNP). Consequently, economic activities declined in these countries, causing growth rates to slow down.

4. Advent of Trade Protectionism
Although the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) was the reason for the economic boom that started the Golden Age of Capitalism, liberalisation of world trade did not benefit all countries evenly. In particular, developing countries were incurring losses, while developed nations gained from the freer movement of labour, commodities and capital.

Besides, the U.S. economic slowdown in the 1970s and emergence of developed countries, like Germany and Japan, as well as the ‘Four Asian Tigers’, influenced the shift in economic stance by the American government. As such, trade protectionism was imposed to insulate the domestic economy from the adverse effects of economic competition. For example, the American government introduced a Voluntary Restraint Agreement (VRA) that forced Japan to cut down its exports of automobiles into USA. Developed countries, like UK, raised tariffs.

As such, this artificial trade barriers began to undo the beneficial impacts of the free trade agreements, causing a decline in global output and the subsequent slowdown in economic development.

What’s Next?
Given this understanding of the devastating impacts that caused the decline in the global economy, you should examine the following questions and think about the significance of the above-mentioned factors to reinforce your knowledge comprehension to better apply them to your SBQ answers:
– Why was the Golden Age of Capitalism not sustainable? 
– What were the internal and external factors that contributed to the decline in the global economy? [class discussion]

In preparation for the examination, sign up for our JC History Tuition to be ready for the complexities of the essay and source based case study questions. We provide many useful revision materials and additional practice questions to supplement your school lessons. Furthermore, we make learning enjoyable and enriching, incorporating online resources and videos that can synergise your knowledge of past issues with the present.

Besides, you can consider signing up for our GP Tuition and Economics Tuition programmes, which are conducted by experienced tutors who will guide you through the study of different issues and conceptual analysis. Most importantly, our programmes will impart you with the critical thinking and problem solving skills to approach issues from multiple perspectives. Be ready.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What caused the Golden Age of Capitalism - JC History SBQ Skills

What caused the Golden Age of Capitalism?

What is the Golden Age of Capitalism?
The ‘Golden Age of Capitalism’ refers to a momentous period of economic growth that lasted from the end of World War Two in 1945 to the early 1970s. The economic recovery of Western Europe and East Asia had accelerated growth and expansion of the global economy. In this topic, we will find out what were the contributing factors that gave rise to this remarkable period of economic prosperity that improved the living standards of many countries.

Topic of Study [For H2 History Students]: 
Paper 1: Understanding the Global Economy (1945-2000)
Section B: Essay Writing
Theme II Chapter 1: Reasons for growth of the global economy 

In the following section, we will cover some of the key reasons for the growth and development of the world economy.

1. Post-War Economic Reconstruction [After 1945] 
Against the backdrop of a devastating war that left the affected countries in ruins, post-war economic reconstruction was of paramount importance to revive the industries. The emphasis on wartime production had affected the nature of industries [e.g. production of military supplies]. In particular, Western Europe and Japan were in poor shape due to the protracted military confrontations. As such, economic recovery was made possible through the provision of foreign aid, such as the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) and the Marshall Plan.

With the substantial economic relief, these recipient countries revive their industries quickly. For example, Western European countries only required three years to restore pre-war production levels. By 1947, global industrial production was back to pre-war levels. As a result, the robust growth of developed countries contributed to higher consumption of goods and services. This development was then reinforced by the liberalisation of world trade.

2. Liberalisation of World Trade [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, 1947]
During the Bretton Woods Conference of 1947, members of the United Nations (UN), including USA, deliberated on the creation of an international monetary system. This system was developed with the goal of ensuring financial stability at the global level. During the Conference, members planned to establish an International Trade Organisation (ITO) to set the rules and regulations for international trade. However, the plan failed to take shape. Nevertheless, a palatable alternative was formed, also known as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).

Before the World Trade Organisation was formed in 1955, the GATT played the primary role of pushing for periodic bargaining, in terms of the removal of trade barriers between member nations. The reduction in tariffs, for example, enabled freer flow of resources and commodities, raising world output and propelling growth of the global economy.

3. Establishment of an International Financial System [Bretton Woods System, 1944]
As mentioned earlier, the Bretton Woods Conference had the main aim of creating an international financial system to achieve financial stability. In the process, two financial international institutions were formed, namely the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.

Initially, the World Bank was named International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD). It was responsible for the provision of loans that supported post-war economic reconstruction, since the late 1940s. Subsequently, the World Bank aided developing countries in their goal of achieving economic and social progress.

As for the International Monetary Fund (IMF), its role was to provide financial support to member countries and correct temporary payment imbalances. Members could access the financial support only if they met the requirements set by the IMF Articles of Agreement, which stipulated conditions, like the need to disregard foreign exchange controls. As a result, the IMF contributed to the freer flow of currencies between countries, promoting growth.

The third notable feature of the Bretton Woods System was the gold exchange standard that facilitated foreign exchange convertibility. From 1944 (Year of the Bretton Woods Conference) to 1971, all foreign currencies were pegged to the U.S. Dollar (USD). The USD was pegged to gold, specifically 35 USD per ounce of gold. Consequently, this gold exchange standard gave rise to the creation of foreign exchange markets that led to exchange rate stability. Hence, stable currency values boosted market confidence and promoted greater trading and investment activities. As such, the Bretton Woods System contributed to the remarkable growth of the global economy.

What’s Next?
In view of the above-mentioned factors, it may appear that the seemingly-sustained period of economic prosperity could last indefinitely. However, from the 1970s onwards, the expansion and growth of the global economy began to slow down. In the next issue, we will discuss the problems of the global economy, such as the twin oil shocks of the 1970s. To support your revision, consider these questions:
– How did the United States contribute to the growth of the global economy?
– Which was more important: The Bretton Woods system or the liberalisation of world trade [to be discussed in class]

Do consider joining our JC History Tuition to create and adopt an exam-focused revision plan that will prepare you for the demands of the A Level History examinations. Rest assured, you will experience a progressive learning structure that builds up a strong foundation in the historical knowledge for the essential areas of learning. Furthermore, we conduct essay and SBQ skills development workshops that hone your answering technqiues.

On a separate but related note, our tuition centres offer GP Tuition and Economics Tuition classes as well. These programmes will be instrumental in the cultivation of reflective thinking, knowledge application and intellectual acumen. At the end of the way, our classes will prepare you for the complex but exciting future.