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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 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.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - What is the Cuban Missile Crisis - JC History SBQ Skills

What caused the Cuban Missile Crisis?

What is the Cuban Missile Crisis?
Following the stalemate in Europe, the two superpowers shifted their gaze towards Asia and other parts of the world. This development led to the spread of Cold War influences to other conflicts and wars, like the Korean War (1950-53), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) and the Vietnam War (1955-75).

The Cuban Missile Crisis refers to a military and political confrontation between USA and USSR due to the Soviet deployment of ballistic missiles on Cuba, which is 90 miles (140 km) from Florida, USA.

To understand the Cuban Missile Crisis, it is important to examine the key incidents and factors that contributed to the historical developments, which will be covered in the following sections.

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 2: A World Divided by the Cold War – Manifestations of the global Cold War: Cuban Missile Crisis (1962) 

1. Economic Aggression 
Before USSR was involved in the shipment of nuclear-armed missiles on Cuba, there was strained diplomatic relations between USA and Cuba. This was attributed to the antagonistic actions of the communist revolutionary, Fidel Castro, who overthrew the former Cuban President, Fulgencio Batista and led the Cuban Revolution. As Cuba’s Prime Minister, Castro nationalized American assets on Cuba, particularly the sugar mills. Consequently, his struggle for economic control in Cuba prompted USA to retaliate with an economic embargo.

Following USA’s response to sever diplomatic ties with Cuba, Castro turned to USSR, which offered both economic and military aid. This development sowed the seeds of destruction that brought the world closer to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

2. Political Aggression 
Given that both USA and Cuba ended diplomatic relations with one another, the incoming American President, John F. Kennedy, initiated a covert operation to invade Cuba and overthrow Cuba. This plan was known as the Bay of Pigs Invasion (Apr 1961). However, the invasion was a failure and the attackers were captured by Castro.

After the Bay of Pigs Invasion, Castro declared himself a Marxist-Leninist publicly (Dec 1961), which antagonized USA further due to ideological differences that shaped the Cold War rivalry against USSR. Therefore, Cuba aligned itself ideologically with the Soviet Union, which bore ulterior motives that led up to the Cuban Missile Crisis.

3. Military Aggression 
From the Soviet perspective, Nikita Khrushchev held the perception that USA had the military advantage in the arms race aspect of the Cold War. His concerns were supported by the deployment of American Jupiter ballistic missiles in Turkey and Italy that posed a clear national security threat to the Soviet Union. Furthermore, the Soviet ballistic missiles were fewer in numbers and less capable than the American’s. Therefore, to close the ‘missile gap’, Khrushchev placed nuclear missiles in Cuba (Oct 1962), which was 90 miles off Florida coast.

However, USA discovered the Soviet nuclear missiles via aerial surveillance on Cuba, which sparked fears of a possible nuclear threat to national security. Following thorough deliberation, Kennedy announced the imposition of an American ‘naval blockade’ to prevent the shipment of Soviet ballistic missiles to Cuba.

4. Outcome of the Cuban Missile Crisis 
This ‘blockade’ could have been interpreted by the Soviets as a threatening military provocation that justified nuclear retaliation. Fortunately, the blockade ended peacefully and both superpowers agreed to stand down. This was seen in terms of the mutual agreement to remove the American missiles in Turkey and Italy and Soviet missiles in Cuba in secret.

What’s Next?
By understanding the key incidents and factors that contributed to the developments of the Cuban Missile Crisis, you can reinforce your study of this topic by answering the following questions:
– How did Castro’s actions lead to the start of the Cuban Missile Crisis?
– Why was the Cuban Missile Crisis interpreted as a Cold War conflict?
– In comparison to the Korean War (1950-53), identify the similarities and differences of the Cuban Missile Crisis in shaping the Cold War developments beyond Europe [to be discussed in our lessons]

As it can be a daunting challenge for some students to meander through the vast historical content covered in A Level History, you can sign up for our JC History Tuition programme, which is open to JC1 and JC2 students that are studying either H2 or H1 History. Throughout the programme, we will conduct class discussions to broaden and deepen your understanding of different issues in a thematic format. You will receive our very own summary notes that have been refined over the years (and match the latest syllabus as of 2017) to prepare you adequately for the examinations.

Furthermore, you can attend the JC History Essay Writing and Source Based Case Study questions (SBQ) answering skills workshops that are held at our centres in Bishan, Bedok and Tampines. You will learn to analyze questions carefully and form persuasive arguments logically, such that the pursuit of excellence at the A Level History examinations is within your grasp.

On a separate but related note, our centres conduct GP Tuition and Economics Tuition classes for JC1 and JC2 students. These programmes will no doubt be beneficial in your study of A Level subjects. Be inspired by experienced tutors, like JC Economics and GP Tutor Simon Ng, who will guide you through the study of different real world issues. We teach you to think reflectively, write persuasively and analyze critically.

JC History Tuition Bishan Bedok Tampines Singapore - How to write a History essay

How to write an A Level History essay?

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.

What’s Next?
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.

JC History Tuition Singapore Bishan Bedok Tampines - Myths and Errors of History

Common errors and myths of JC History

How to learn History?
For students who have selected A Level History as one of the subjects to learn at schools, some hold the perception that it is a challenging subject due to the vast content to remember and understand. As such, these students feel a sense of apprehension and anxiety as they are concerned over the inability to recall relevant information during examinations. While it is undeniable that A Level History is indeed a subject that covers a wide range of themes, topics and issues, I believe that it is a feasible and achievable task to grasp the essential knowledge and ace the examinations. In this issue, we will examine the common myths and errors that students that may have with regards to JC History.

Myth #1: The content is too much for me to remember!
Based on conventional views, some argue that A Level History is a tough subject to grasp as there is too much to remember. Let’s refer to the syllabus requirements set by the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB):

For H2 History students, there are two overarching areas to learn, namely ‘Shaping the International Order (1945-2000)’ and ‘Making of Independent Southeast Asia (Independence-2000)’. For the former, there are three main themes that cover the Cold War, Global Economy and the United Nations. Similarly, the latter features three themes that cover Political Development, Economic Development and Regional Conflicts and Cooperation in ASEAN.

Given this understanding, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that it is an uphill task to learn these topics and be competent in applying the knowledge to A Level History examinations at the end of the two-year journey.

In fact, this misconceived perception is the result of ineffective strategies. The absence of an organized revision plan, a proper process to analyze historical issues and development of proficient writing methods are some of the critical components to create a productive revision plan. On a related note, students who have attended our JC History Tuition programme benefited from our exam-driven class activities and developed the capabilities to address the above-mentioned challenges.

Myth #2: I should provide as many examples as possible to attain higher marks for my JC History Essays.
In addition, some students may bear the notion that they should include many examples to support their arguments in their History essays to obtain higher grades. As such, these students tend to spend much of their revision time reading through notes and additional readings to remember specific case studies and country-based examples. Then, the ‘regurgitation’ of information is evidenced by the disproportionate weight of writing on the use of examples in each ‘Main Body’ paragraph.

By applying this strategy, there is one fatal flaw. Students who lack the awareness may lose track of their arguments and deviate from the discussion, giving rise to the problem of ‘not answering the question’. For example, the essay writing may contain irrelevant information, like specific dates and quotes mentioned by Historians. Consequently, examiners are likely to penalise the students.

This error is the result of the inability to identify the question requirements. Students should pay attention to the command words and given statement (if any). By analyzing the question, students will know what to write and how much to write. By joining our JC History Tuition programme, we will guide students through this learning process and review their answers to minimise this error.

Do I have enough time to rectify my errors?
Yes, there is! Although A Level History may appear intimidating to students, especially JC1s, it is possible to grasp the content well and attain grade A for the examinations. You can learn the ‘art of writing’ by focusing your efforts on reading reflectively, write logically and answer systematically. We provide GP Tuition classes for our History students to cultivate proficiency in answering essay and source-based case study questions.