How to write a History Essay?
In general, essay writing involves the organization of arguments to support or challenge a given view in the question statement. In the context of A Level History essay writing, it is important to adopt an argumentative style of writing to convince your reader that your stand is sound and well-analyzed. However, it is insufficient to weave a continuous line of arguments and submit your script with the expectation that you have just aced the examination. In this article, we will examine some key considerations that will support your efforts to create a good essay.
1: Read the question carefully
The first step to do well for A Level History essay is to read the question. Some students are eager to skip the reading process and attempt the writing immediately, which can lead to fatal errors. It is imperative that you read the question and pick out the keywords. Pay attention to the command words, like “assess”. Also, identify the given view in the question statement to find out what is the opposing view, in order to take a clear stand in your introduction. During our JC History Tuition, we conduct class discussions to guide students through the reading process, by using example essay questions. Through proper reading and annotation setting, you will realise the importance of careful reading, such as the identification of possible arguments to support your essay writing.
2: Set your essay outline
Once you have analyzed the essay question, plan your essay outline. By deriving a rough guideline on how you can arrange your ideas in the essay, this approach minimizes the potential error in which you arrive at a stumbling block and you are unable to decide on the direction of your subsequent paragraphs. The outline should be written in five minutes or less. Focus your efforts on the listing of key arguments that support your stand and those that challenge it. Under each argument, you can list down examples that come to your mind. Now, you are ready to write.
3: Acknowledge the given view in the question
Similar to how individuals engage in intellectual debates, it is important that you acknowledge the view stated in the question. Failure to do so, you may risk being marked down for the ‘inability to answer the question’. To do this, you should explain how the given view answers the question.
Example Question: “The effectiveness of the United Nations (UN) peacekeeping efforts depended solely on the Security Council.” How far do you agree with this view in the period of 1945 to 1991?
With reference to the above example question, you should acknowledge and explain the given view of how the Security Council played a part in contributing to the successes of the United Nation peacekeeping efforts in the first paragraph of your ‘Main Body’.
4: Align the arguments to your stand
This alignment of argument depends on the direction stated in your stand (which should be stated in your ‘Introduction’. With reference to the above question, if your stand is that you disagree and argue that the effectiveness of the UN did not depend on the Security Council, but rather the General Assembly, then your second paragraph should provide an analysis of the limitations of the Security Council’s role.
Bear in mind that the analysis of factors in every essay question cannot be memorised and stored piecewise in your own revision notes. It is a misleading approach that limits your thinking ability. Instead, our JC History Tuition will feature numerous question practices to widen the scope of assessments, such that you will be familiar with the possible perspectives in a given topic.
Practice makes perfect! I strongly encourage you to attempt more essays. Once you start, you will realise that this perceived sense of hesitation and reluctance can be overcome. Furthermore, your worries (Can I complete my essays on time? How do I remember so many examples?) will dissipate as you practice more often. I do not deny that writing can be a frictional process at the start. Do not give up. Your determination will bring you closer to your goal.
You can also consider joining our related JC tuition programmes, such as our Economics Tuition and GP Tuition classes to improve your writing skills. The knowledge and skills acquired over time are applicable in all three subjects (History included). Besides, you can gain broader perspectives that help you to answer the History essay questions effectively.