How to Write A Great History Essay

The first thing we should do is to askourselves: What makes an outstanding historical essay? There is a good chance that no two readers will all agree, even if it’s because it is true that the quality of a piece can be seen in the eyes and shows the intellectual condition that the reader. This article goes beyond philosophical debates and provides practical tips on how to write an essay to get top marks.


Witnesses in court vow to tell the truth with the whole truth and nothing else. Every history student should take the same oath. answer each question with completeness question , and not just the question. This is the most important rule. You can write brilliantly and make a convincing case using an abundance of evidence however if you’re not relevant, you may as well just be tinkering with a drum. In other words, you must think deeply about the question you’re being asked to respond to. Be sure to avoid the fatal error of poorer students who are unable to in the end, fail to answer the test the examiners should have set – but failed to do so. Make sure you take your time, study carefully at the words of the question, and then be sure in your mind the fact that you’ve clearly understood each of its terms.

If, for instance there is a question about why Hitler came to power in the first place, you must clarify what the process of his rise to power was made up of. Are there specific events that was the catalyst for his rise to the power? If you are quick to jump on the appointment of Chancellor, take your time and consider what exactly the powers this position conferred on about it from Our Articles Was the passing of the Enabling Act more important? What was the date when the rise to power actually start? Will you need to mention Hitler’s birth and early childhood, or the high inflation of the early 1920s? If you determine what years are relevant and , therefore, irrelevant the you’ve made the right choice. Next, you’ll have to consider the various reasons behind his rise.

If you’re called upon to present the accomplishments of a particular individual Avoid writing the first idea that pops to mind. Take a look at the possibility of success. As you do this, are likely to be faced with the issue of how to define’success’. What is it that it means? Does it refer to the accomplishment of one’s objectives? Is it objective (a reality) in nature or an opinion (a subject of opinion)? Do we have to consider short-term and long-term successes? If the person enjoys unusual luck, is it still considered a success? That battling with the issue of definition will help you write a detailed list that includes successes. You can then explain how they came about, trace their roots and determining how and why they happened. Are there any basis for the success? If so, it may be the central point of your reply.

One of the key words in the above passages of text is consider. This should be distinguished from daydreaming in the morning, forgetting and idle speculation. Thinking is never a pleasant exercise, which is why most people try to avoid it all the time. But there’s no way around it in order to score the very best marks. So think as hard and as long as you are able to about significance of this question. Think the issues that it raises, and how you can address it. Think and be a bit shrewd – then consider rethinking your thoughts trying to find holes in your thinking. Eventually you will almost certainly become confused. It’s okay, confusion is typically a crucial step in the achievement of clarity. If you’re completely confused stop for a moment. If you come back at the same question it might be that you have solved your problems. If not then, you can give yourself more time. It’s possible that good ideas pop up in your head at unintentional moments.

the Vital First Paragraph

Each aspect of an essay is vital, but your first paragraph is of paramount importance. It is the first opportunity you have to impress – or disappoint an examiner, and your first impressions can be very decisive. Try to create a captivating first sentence. (‘Start with an earthquake , and then build to a point of climax, said the film maker Cecil B. De Mille.) More important is that you show your understanding of the questions. This is where you write your carefully constructed definitions for the main terms, and then you identify the pertinent timeframe and issues – which is to say, the guidelines of the questions. Furthermore, you separate the larger question into feasible sub-divisions, or even smaller-sized questions, on the basis of which you will subsequently write an entire paragraph. You develop an argument, or maybe you can speak about alternative ideas, which you’ll prove later on in the essay. This is why the first paragraph or you may spread this opening section over two paragraphs – is the primary to writing a strong essay.

On reading a good first sentence, readers are reassured to know that its author is on the right track. He is authentic with rigor, analysis and rigor. They’ll probably be breathing in relief that there is a student that is at least avoiding the two most commonly encountered pitfalls. One is to simply ignore the question completely. The second is to write an account of what happened – typically starting with the birth of the person with a shaky attempt at answering that question in the end paragraph.

Middle Paragraphs

Philip Larkin once said that the modern novel has an beginning, a muddleand an ending. It’s, alas often the case in many essays on history. If you’ve done an excellent opening paragraph, with the ability to divide the entire question into distinct areas that are manageable your essay won’t be muddled; it will be clear and coherent.

It should be obvious, from the middle paragraphs, what question you are answering. It’s actually a great test of an essay that the reader should be able to identify the question, even if you don’t mention it. You should therefore consider starting each middle paragraph with a generalization relevant to the query. After that, you can expand on this idea and support it with evidence. You should provide a well-considered selection of facts (i.e. quotes and facts) to back up the argument you’re making. You only have a limited amount of space or time take your time deciding how much detail to give. A few minor background questions can be outlined with generalizations; however, your principal areas require more exaggeration. (Do not become one of those naive applicants who unintentionally « go overboard » on small-scale issues and overlook important issues.)

The rules usually stipulate that, during the A2 year, students should be familiar with the principal interpretative theories of historians. Don’t ignore this recommendation. But, on the other hand it is important not to push historiography to the extreme, so that the history itself is basically ignored. In particular, avoid falling into the false impression the only thing you need is collections of historians’ views. Most often, when writing essays, students make a generalisation, and then back it with an opinion of an historian – and as they’ve developed their generalisations based on their opinions that the historian has given, their argument is completely incomplete, meaningless and inconclusive. The argument is also preposterous in that it presumes historians are perfect and omniscient gods. If you do not present evidence in support of your beliefs in the manner that historians do, the generalisation is just an assertion. The middle paragraphs provide the space to present the main idea of an essay, and you neglect this at your peril.

End Paragraph

If you’ve had to argue against a particular point within the body of an essay, you should hammer on the point in the final paragraph. If you’ve been considering a range of possible arguments, now’s the right time to state which is the correct one. In the middle, you look like a barrister making a case. Now, in the final paragraph, you play the judge summarizing your verdict.

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