Pass History Exams

A Level History Essay Structure – A Guide

  • Post author By admin
  • Post date December 1, 2022
  • No Comments on A Level History Essay Structure – A Guide

Getting an A Level History essay structure right is by no means an easy task. In this post we will look at how we can build a structure from which our essay can develop.

A level History Essay Structure - Simple

Here you can see the most simplified essay structure for tackling A level History essays. All students should be familiar with this structure. We have broken the essay down into an introduction and conclusion as well as 3 separate parts of content. Running through the entire essay at the side is our line of argument. Whilst this may seem fairly simple, many students still fail to adequately follow this structure, when writing essay answers under exam conditions.

The reasons this structure works well is that it enables you to cover 3 different factors of content. These can be aligned 2-1 or 1-2 on either side of the argument. Your essay is now balanced (covering both sides of the argument), whilst at the same time being decisive in terms of your line of argument and judgement. It is also consistent with the amount you can write in the exam time given for (20-25) mark essay questions.

Expanded A level History Essay Structure

history essays a level

Let’s look at an expanded essay structure. Again, we have our introduction and conclusion as well as 3 separate parts of content. Now we can see that we have added whether or not each of our parts of content agrees or disagrees with the question premise. In order to have a balanced essay we can see on this example that; Content 1 agrees, Content 2 disagrees, and Content 3 can go either way. This overall A Level History essay structure ensures a balanced essay that also reaches judgement.

Furthermore, we have now broken down each individual part of Content/Factor. This can be seen as a mini essay in its own right. The Content/Factor is introduced and linked to the question as well as being concluded and linked to the question. Then we write 2 to 3 separate points within the body of the Content/Factor. We have 2 points that agree with the overall argument of this section of content. This strongly backs up our argument.

Then we can also potentially (this doesn’t have to be done always, but when done right creates a more nuanced analysis) add a third point that balances that particular section of content. However, it doesn’t detract from the overall argument of this factor/content. E.g. In the short term ‘point 3’ occurred but of much greater significance was ‘point 1’ and ‘point 2.’

How To Improve Further at A Level History

Pass A Level History – is our sister site, which shows you step by step, how to most effectively answer any A Level History extract, source or essay question. Please click the following link to visit the site and get access to your free preview lesson. www.passalevelhistory.co.uk

Previous and Next Blog Posts

Previous – A Level History Questions – Do and Avoid Guide – passhistoryexams.co.uk/a-level-history-questions-do-and-avoid-guide/

Next – A Level History Coursework Edexcel Guide – passhistoryexams.co.uk/a-level-history-coursework-edexcel/

Leave a Reply Cancel reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

history essays a level

How to structure AQA A-level History Essays

  • Dr Janet Rose
  • December 14, 2019

For AQA History , at both AS and A level, you need to know how to write two types of essay – a block essay and a point-by-point essay.  To be able to structure AQA history essays you’ll need to know these essay styles and where to use them.

Introductions

You don’t really need an introduction for the source questions.  In the exam you will be pressed for time so it is sensible to just start with your analysis of extract A.  However, for the essay questions you will need a short, clear introduction that references the question and states your line of argument.

The most helpful tip I can give you is this; write the introduction last .  Why do I advise this?  Because if you state your line of argument and what you intend to include, you then have to make sure your whole essay and conclusion matches your introduction.  Obviously you should have a plan to follow but it is far, far easier to write the body of your essay and your conclusion,  then make the introduction fit the essay you have just written.  It makes writing the introduction a breeze because you will know exactly what you have argued, which evidence you have used, the order you have presented your material and what you have concluded.

No Surprises

Remember there should be no surprises for your marker or examiner in history.  You are not writing a best seller where you build up the tension and then do a dramatic ‘ta da’ reveal.  That will only confuse your examiner and lose you marks – potentially a lot of marks.  What we want is a nice, clear format where we can see exactly what you are arguing, exactly what evidence you are using, and exactly what you have concluded.  Importantly, we want to know this at the start of the essay.  If you make your marker or examiner keep stopping, re-reading chunks, and going back and forth to try and understand your argument, you’ll just end up with an unhappy and frustrated reader.  And this is the person who is going to award your marks!  Be clear.  Be concise.  Get to the point quickly.  Give evidence to back up your points.  Reach a judgement.

History Essay: How to write an A-Grade Essay

Block Essays

For AQA you use these for the extract questions; the two sources for AS and the three sources for A level.  You write the essay in blocks of text which are focused on one area.

For the source questions you don’t need to get too clever with hopping back and forth between sources and points. Decide and plan what you need to say and then write it clearly, with a clear assessment of each source, in big chunks of work. Do not worry about an introduction– just get straight into the analysis. First address Source A in a block, then Source B in another block and (for A level) Source C in a final block.

Remember that you need to assess the sources.  Keep doing that all the way through.  Assess each source as you write the block and do a mini summary at the end of each section.   You can then bring the sources together in a very short conclusion at the end (no more than a couple of lines) where you can summarise your convincing/valuable assessment of the sources.  It is very important that you make a clear judgement for each source, as that is what the question asks you to do.

By the way, when we talk about blocks it does not mean you have to cram everything into one enormous paragraph. If you have plenty to say (and hopefully you will) you should use a sensible paragraph structure. The reason it is called a block essay is that you deal with one section completely, in this case each source, before moving on to the next section.

Point-by-point essays

Point-by-Point essays are much trickier to master but are well worth the effort as, done properly, they tend to achieve higher marks. For AQA you can use this style for everything that is not a source question. The key to an excellent point-by-point essay is all in the planning; it will only come out well in the writing if you know exactly what you are going to argue and the order in which you are going to introduce evidence and points. So it is crucial that you make yourself a good plan!

Essentially, all the AQA essay questions at both AS and A level ask you to argue ‘for or against’ a hypothesis. They will look something like this:

‘Victorian governments in the years 1867 to 1886 had little interest in social reform.’ Explain why you agree or disagree with this view.

‘Henry VII had successfully established monarchical authority by 1509.’ Assess the validity of this view.

Your job, therefore, is to find evidence from your course for both sides of the argument i.e. both ‘for’ and ‘against’ the hypothesis. You absolutely must have evidence for both sides – not just one side. The evidence goes down on your plan, divided into ‘for’ and ‘against’ the hypothesis. Whichever side you end with more evidence for, or more convincing evidence for, that is the side you will conclude is most persuasive.

History Exams – How to avoid being narrative

tennis

Imagine it like a tennis match

Imagine it like a tennis match, where the ball starts on one side of the tennis court, is played and then sails over to the opposing side.  A point-by-point argument is like this – it is oppositional, with two opposing sides. You should aim to bounce back and forth between the points and the two sides of the argument. Begin with one of the points from your plan, either for or against the hypothesis. Deal with the point in detail, using clear examples as evidence and linking it firmly to the question.  That’s your opening shot.

Next, pop straight over to the opposing view and deal with that point, again using clear examples and linking to the question. Repeat this ‘back and forth’ technique until you have covered all the points and evidence in your plan.

To do this really well it is usually better to put up the side of your argument that you will oppose first. You outline the ‘other’ side of the argument and show that you understand the opposing view. Then you switch over to the other side of the hypothesis, i.e. ‘your’ argument, and use powerful evidence to back it up. Remember this is all about argument and analysis.

Back to our tennis match analogy; the ball is your argument, which bounces back and forth between the players, but you need ‘your’ side to end each point with the big shot – the one that wins the game.

How to use Provenance in History Exams

The Conclusion

You must conclude in line with the most persuasive and convincing evidence you have included in your plan.   This sounds really obvious, but I have lost count of how many A-level history essays I have marked that argue effectively for one point of view, but then conclude in favour of the other side.  The most common reason for this happening is that the student has moved off their plan when writing up the essay.  Follow your plan!

At the end of the essay your conclusion should sum up all the main points of argument and then should reach a judgement.  Don’t sit on the fence, no matter how tempting it is.  You need to make a judgement.  The conclusion should mirror your introduction and the main points of argument in the body of the essay, so the work ends up as a coherent, clear argument from introduction to conclusion.

The point-by-point essay takes practice, so it will help if you can get some feedback from your teacher or tutor, or even a parent who will be able to tell you if your argument is clear and makes sense to the reader. Do persevere, however, because when you get the technique right it will gain you more marks in the end.

Do you need help with History Essays?

Our history team is ready to help you.  all our historians are graduates, experienced teachers, and skilled at getting our students the very best grades., you can contact a tutor here , or contact our friendly and knowledgeable office team to get a bespoke tutor match.

history essays a level

The Tutor Team Guarantee

How can we help you, share this post.

0333 987 4603

Enma Edu Beijing Logo

  • Privacy Policy
  • Handbook & Policies

Privacy Overview

Study Mind logo

  • UCAS Guide Home >
  • A-Level History

Revision Tips to Achieve A* in A Level History

Vintage books on a table, creating a timeless setting for studying A Level History.

Ever wondered about A-Level History success? Check this out: According to the Joint Council for Qualifications (JCQ) , in 2022, 87.8% aced it, but in 2019, only 81% made the grade. 

Understanding the A-Level History Exam

An open old book and reading glasses for A-Level History exam preparation.

Mastering the A-Level History exam begins with a clear comprehension of its structure and components. Let’s break it down:

Exam Structure:

The A-Level History exam typically comprises multiple components. Understand the weight each section carries to prioritise your focus.

Assessment Components:

  • Source Analysis : This section assesses your ability to critically evaluate historical sources. Practice interpreting documents , maps , and visuals .
  • Essay Writing: Essays demand in-depth historical knowledge, effective analysis, and a structured argument. Grasp the nuances of crafting compelling essays.

Key Focus Areas for Higher Grades:

  • Depth over Breadth : It’s not about covering every era; it’s about mastering select topics thoroughly.
  • Critical Thinking: Emphasise critical analysis of historical events, ideologies, and interpretations.
  • Historiography: Incorporate differing historical perspectives and theories into your responses.

Creating a Strategic Study Plan

A visual diagram illustrating strategic education plan for A Level History.

Crafting a focused study plan is the key to conquering your A-Level History exam. Here’s your roadmap:

Importance of Time Management:

  • Prioritise Topics : Identify high-priority areas based on exam weighting and personal strengths.
  • Allocate Study Time : Dedicate specific time slots to each topic, ensuring balanced coverage.

Personalised Study Schedule:

  • Daily Goals: Set achievable daily goals to maintain steady progress.
  • Variety in Study Sessions: Mix source analysis, essay writing, and note review for a well-rounded approach.

Balancing Content Coverage and Depth:

  • Thematic Approach: Group related topics to enhance understanding and retention.
  • Regular Review: Schedule periodic reviews to reinforce learned content.

Utilising Resources Wisely

To excel in A-Level History, harnessing the right resources is paramount. Here’s how to do it effectively:

Leveraging Textbooks, Databases, and Articles:

  • Textbooks: Choose authoritative texts that align with your syllabus for comprehensive coverage.
  • Online Databases: Utilise reputable databases like JSTOR or Google Scholar for in-depth research.
  • Scholarly Articles: Incorporate recent scholarly articles to stay updated on historical perspectives.

Incorporating Primary and Secondary Sources:

  • Primary Sources: Dive into firsthand accounts, documents, and artefacts for authentic insights.
  • Secondary Sources: Reference scholarly works that analyse and interpret historical events for depth.

Making the Most of Study Guides and Examiner’s Reports:

  • Study Guides: Supplement your notes with study guides tailored to your exam board for focused revision.
  • Examiner’s Reports: Learn from past exams’ feedback to understand common pitfalls and refine your approach.

By strategically navigating these resources, you equip yourself with a well-rounded understanding of historical events. 

Perfecting Exam Technique

Unlocking the secrets to flawless A-Level History exam performance involves mastering strategic techniques. Here’s your guide:

Understanding Mark Schemes and Assessment Criteria:

  • Detailed Review: Study past mark schemes to grasp how examiners evaluate responses.
  • Assessment Criteria: Align your writing with specific criteria, ensuring targeted and precise answers.

Time Management During the Exam:

  • Practise Time Trials: Simulate exam conditions to refine your pacing and allocate time wisely.
  • Prioritise Questions: Tackle questions based on marks allocated; focus on high-value questions first.

Practising with Past Papers and Mock Exams:

  • Realistic Simulations: Mimic exam conditions with past papers to enhance familiarity.
  • Learn from Mistakes: Analyse errors in mock exams to fine-tune your approach and improve.

Embracing Continuous Improvement

Achieving A* excellence in A-Level History is an ongoing journey. Here’s how to ensure continuous improvement:

Regular Self-Assessment and Reflection:

  • Review Progress: Regularly assess your understanding and identify areas for improvement.
  • Reflect on Strategies: Evaluate the effectiveness of your study techniques and adjust as needed.

Setting Realistic Goals for Improvement:

  • Identify Weaknesses: Pinpoint specific weaknesses and set realistic goals to address them.
  • Measurable Objectives: Establish clear , measurable objectives for steady progress.

Adjusting Study Strategies Based on Performance Feedback:

Feedback Analysis: Analyse feedback from teachers and exams to refine your study strategies.

Adaptation : Be flexible; adjust your approach based on what works and what needs improvement.

Mastering A-Level History demands more than knowledge—it requires strategy . By understanding the exam, crafting a precise study plan , utilising resources wisely, perfecting exam techniques, and embracing continuous improvement, you’re primed for A* success. 

Stay committed, adapt, and triumph. Need personalised guidance? Connect with a top-notch A Levels History tutor at Study Mind. Contact us today!

How can I balance covering all historical periods without feeling overwhelmed?

Prioritise depth over breadth. Focus on key themes and events within each period, allowing for a more comprehensive understanding. This targeted approach ensures a deeper grasp of the material without overwhelming yourself with excessive details.

What’s the best strategy for managing time during the A-Level History exam?

Practise time trials with past papers to refine your pacing. Prioritise questions based on allocated marks, ensuring you allocate time wisely. This strategic approach maximises your efficiency and enhances overall exam performance.

Are study guides really beneficial, or can I rely solely on textbooks?

Study guides are invaluable supplements. While textbooks offer comprehensive content, study guides provide condensed, exam-focused insights. Combining both resources enhances your understanding, offering a well-rounded preparation for the A-Level History exam.

How can I stay updated on recent historical perspectives and interpretations?

Incorporate scholarly articles from reputable databases like JSTOR and Google Scholar. These sources offer insights into evolving historical perspectives, keeping your knowledge base current and demonstrating a nuanced understanding in your responses.

Is memorisation the key to success in the A-Level History exam?

Memorisation is crucial but not enough. Emphasise understanding, critical analysis, and the ability to apply knowledge to different contexts. A balanced approach ensures you not only recall facts but also demonstrate a higher-order understanding in your exam responses.

How do I overcome stress and anxiety during the A-Level History exam?

Implement stress-management techniques, such as deep breathing and mindfulness, to stay calm. Prioritise self-care in the days leading up to the exam, ensuring adequate rest and relaxation. Remember, a clear mind enhances your ability to recall and articulate historical knowledge effectively.

Still got a question? Leave a comment

Leave a comment, cancel reply.

Save my name, email, and website in this browser for the next time I comment.

history essays a level

Let's get acquainted ? What is your name?

Nice to meet you, {{name}} what is your preferred e-mail address, nice to meet you, {{name}} what is your preferred phone number, what is your preferred phone number, just to check, what are you interested in, when should we call you.

It would be great to have a 15m chat to discuss a personalised plan and answer any questions

What time works best for you? (UK Time)

Pick a time-slot that works best for you ?

How many hours of 1-1 tutoring are you looking for?

My whatsapp number is..., for our safeguarding policy, please confirm....

Please provide the mobile number of a guardian/parent

Which online course are you interested in?

What is your query, you can apply for a bursary by clicking this link, sure, what is your query, thank you for your response. we will aim to get back to you within 12-24 hours., lock in a 2 hour 1-1 tutoring lesson now.

If you're ready and keen to get started click the button below to book your first 2 hour 1-1 tutoring lesson with us. Connect with a tutor from a university of your choice in minutes. (Use FAST5 to get 5% Off!)

Programmes & Qualifications

Cambridge international as & a level history (9489).

  • Syllabus overview

Cambridge International AS and A Level History is a flexible and wide-ranging syllabus covering modern history in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The syllabus builds upon skills gained at Cambridge IGCSE or Cambridge O Level and develops lifelong skills including understanding issues and themes within a historical period.

The emphasis is again on both historical knowledge and on the skills required for historical research. Learners develop an understanding of cause and effect, continuity and change, similarity and difference, and use historical evidence as part of their studies. Both at AS and A Level learners can select from topics on European, American or International history.

Teachers choose which periods to focus on, allowing them to build a course that reflects their learners' interests and staff specialisms, or which is relevant to the local or regional context.

The syllabus year refers to the year in which the examination will be taken.

  • -->2021 - 2023 Syllabus update (PDF, 114KB)
  • -->2021 Legacy Notice (PDF, 102KB)
  • -->2024 - 2025 Syllabus (PDF, 774KB)
  • -->2026 - 2027 Syllabus (PDF, 880KB)

Syllabus support

  • -->Support for History (PDF, 1MB)

Syllabus updates

We have reviewed Cambridge International AS & A Level History as part of our rolling review programme to make sure it reflects the latest trends in this subject and developments in education. We have made some changes to meet the needs of students, teachers and higher education institutions around the world. The following changes are for assessment in 2021, 2022 and 2023.

How has the syllabus changed?

  • We have refreshed the content and reviewed the amount of optionality within question papers to make sure candidates continue to benefit from having a range of options to choose from.
  • cause & consequence
  • change & continuity
  • similarity & difference
  • significance
  • interpretations.
  • We have added a list of command words and their meanings to help learners know what’s expected of them in the exam.
  • The syllabus code will change to 9489.

How has the assessment changed?

  • Papers 1 and 2 will share the same content and learners will continue to study one of three options: European, American or International.
  • Each option will consist of 4 topics, which will rotate year-on-year. The topic which is the focus of Paper 1 in June and November of any given year is not used to set the questions for Paper 2. There will be a table in the syllabus clarifying when each topic will be used for which papers.
  • Paper 3 Topic 1 The Causes and Impact of British Imperialism will be replaced by The Origins of the First World War.
  • Paper 4: Depth study 4: African History, 1945–91, and Depth study 5: Southeast Asian History, 1945–90s (available in November only) have been removed.

When do these changes take place?

The updated syllabus is for examination in June and November 2021, 2022 and 2023. Please see the 2021-2023 syllabus above for full details.

Coming soon

We are developing a wide range of support to help you plan and teach the 2021-2023 syllabus.

Look out for a range of support including a Scheme of work, Example candidate responses, Teacher and Learner guides. These materials will be available before first teaching from April 2019 onwards through our School Support Hub .

Endorsed resources

AS History International 1840-1945

Increased depth of coverage and closely mapped to the new Cambridge syllabus, this series provides a wide range of source material and language support. Builds confidence in the skills of language, essay writing and evaluation.

Read more on the Cambridge University Press website

AS & AS Level History

Develop knowledge and analytical skills with engaging and comprehensive coverage of the Cambridge International AS Level History syllabuses for examination from 2021.

Read more on the Hodder website

Important notices

We are withdrawing Cambridge International AS & A Level History (9489) from the March exam series. The last March series for this syllabus will be March 2025. 

From 2026, we will only offer this syllabus in the June and November exam series.

We communicated this change to schools in September 2022.

For some subjects, we publish grade descriptions to help understand the level of performance candidates’ grades represent.

We paused the publication of grade descriptions in response to the Covid-19 pandemic and the temporary changes to the awarding standard in 2020, 2021 and 2022.

As the awarding standard has now returned to the pre-pandemic standard, we are working to produce up-to-date grade descriptions for most of our general qualifications. These will be based on the awarding standards in place from June 2023 onwards.

School Support Hub

Teachers at registered Cambridge schools can unlock over 30 000 teaching and learning resources to help plan and deliver Cambridge programmes and qualifications, including Schemes of work, Example candidate responses, Past papers, Specimen paper answers, as well as digital and multimedia resources.

Schemes of work

Example responses, past papers, specimen paper answers.

Register your interest in becoming a Cambridge School

Email icon

Stay up to date

Sign up for updates about changes to the syllabuses you teach

  • Past papers, examiner reports and specimen papers
  • Published resources

This website works best with JavaScript switched on. Please enable JavaScript

  • Centre Services
  • Associate Extranet
  • All About Maths

AS and A-level History

  • Specification
  • Planning resources
  • Teaching resources

Assessment resources

  • Answers and commentaries (102)
  • Approval forms (2)
  • Candidate record forms (4)
  • Centre declaration sheets (4)
  • Examiner reports (37)
  • Mark schemes (179)
  • Notes and guidance (5)
  • Question papers (286)
  • Component 1 (239)
  • Component 2 (366)
  • Component 3 NEA (10)
  • Option A (43)
  • Option B (36)
  • Option C (33)
  • Option D (37)
  • Option E (34)
  • Option F (33)
  • Option G (37)
  • Option H (40)
  • Option J (38)
  • Option K (33)
  • Option L (37)
  • Option M (17)
  • Option N (22)
  • Option O (23)
  • Option P (20)
  • Option Q (19)
  • Option R (23)
  • Option S (24)
  • Option T (10)
  • June 2022 (207)
  • November 2020 (121)
  • November 2021 (54)
  • Sample set 1 (108)
  • Sample set 2 (93)
  • A-level (505)
  • Applied General (4)
  • Technical Award (2)

Showing 619 results

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1E Russia in the Age of Absolutism and Englightenment, 1682-1796 - Sample set 1 New

Published 14 Mar 2024 | PDF | 1.4 MB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2D Religious conflict and the Church in England, c1529-1570 - Sample set 1

Published 9 Feb 2024 | PDF | 823 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1L The quest for political stability: Germany, 1871-1991 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 2.3 MB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1G Challenge and transformation: Britain, c1851-1964 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 3.5 MB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2H France in Revolution, 1774-1815 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 4.7 MB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2J America: A Nation Divided, c1845-1877 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 5.7 MB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2A Royal Authority and the Angevin Kings, 1154-1216 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 215 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1F Industrialisation and the people: Britain, c1783-1885 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 244 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1B Spain in the Age of Discovery, 1469-1598 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 217 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1A The Age of the Crusades, c1071-1204 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 262 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2R The Cold War, c1945-1991 - Sample set 1

Published 1 Feb 2024 | PDF | 250 KB

Question approval form (A-level): Component 3 NEA Historical investigation 2025

Published 10 Nov 2023 | DOCX | 81 KB

Candidate record form (A-level): Component 3 NEA Historical investigation 2025

Published 10 Nov 2023 | PDF | 96 KB

Centre declaration sheet 2025

Published 10 Nov 2023 | PDF | 74 KB

Published 10 Nov 2023 | DOC | 520 KB

Published 10 Nov 2023 | DOCX | 399 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1H Tsarist and Communist Russia, 1855-1964 - Sample set 1

Published 19 Oct 2023 | PDF | 244 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2Q The American Dream: reality and illusion, 1945-1980 - Sample set 1

Published 27 Sep 2023 | PDF | 249 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1D Stuart Britain and the Crisis of Monarchy, 1603-1702 - Sample set 1

Published 27 Sep 2023 | PDF | 253 KB

Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2S The Making of Modern Britain, 1951-2007 - Sample set 1

Published 27 Sep 2023 | PDF | 236 KB

TutorChase

A-Level History: A Complete Guide

Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Starting your A-Level journey and thinking if History is the choice for you? You're in good company. A-Level History is a captivating subject, giving you a deep look into the past and its impact on today. Why choose History, you might ask? It's not just about dates and events; it’s about understanding the why and how behind major global happenances. Can it open doors for your future? Absolutely. In our guide, we'll explore everything from the difficulty level to the best resources, ensuring you have all the information to make an informed decision.

Is History a good A-Level to do?

Choosing A-Level History is a decision that many students ponder over. Its value isn't just academic; it equips you with skills highly regarded by universities and employers alike. According to a survey by the Russell Group universities , History is listed among the 'facilitating subjects' recommended for entry into a wide range of university courses. But what makes it such a commendable choice?

  • Critical Thinking : History teaches you to analyse sources and arguments, fostering a critical approach to information.
  • Communication Skills : You'll learn to articulate complex ideas clearly, both in writing and orally.
  • Research Abilities : Tackling historical questions requires effective research, a skill that's invaluable in any career.
  • Understanding of Contemporary Issues : By studying the past, you gain insights into current global issues, making you more informed about the world around you.

Here is what an expert A-Level History tutor has to say:

"Many of my students who've taken A-Level History have exceled in careers like law, education, journalism, and public policy. Their deep understanding of history enhanced their critical thinking, and helped their professional contributions by enabling them to solve complex issues with insight from past events."

Experts in education and career development often highlight the versatility of History A-Level. It opens doors to careers in law, journalism, politics, and education, to name a few. The analytical and evaluative skills gained are what set History students apart in the competitive job market.

Number of students who took A-Level History exams in the past 10 years

Graph showing number of students who took A-Level History exams in the past 10 years in the UK

Is it hard to pass A-level History?

A-level History is perceived by many as a challenging subject due to its in-depth analysis and extensive content and is ranked as the 7th hardest A-Level subject . However, the notion of difficulty is subjective and can vary based on a student's interests and strengths. The pass rate for A-level History has been relatively stable, indicating that with the right preparation and study habits, passing is certainly achievable. Key points to consider include:

  • Pass Rates : Data from Ofqual shows a consistent pass rate for A-level History, with recent years reporting pass rates of 98.7% in 2023, 99.2% in 2022, and 99.6% in 2021. These statistics suggest that while achieving top grades may be challenging, passing the subject is within reach for the majority of students.
  • Achieving High Grades : Obtaining an A* in A-level History is challenging and requires extensive subject knowledge, sophisticated argumentation, and a coherent writing style. The proportion of students achieving an A* has varied, with a decrease observed from 16% in 2021 to 5.5% in 2023.
  • Content Volume : A-level History is considered one of the most content-intensive A-level subjects. This means that students should be prepared for a significant amount of reading, research, and memorisation.
  • Exam Structure and Skills : Success in A-level History exams requires not only knowledge of historical facts but also the ability to critically analyse sources, construct coherent arguments, and write clearly under timed conditions.

Table showing A-level History grades distribution

While A-level History presents certain challenges, careful preparation, consistent effort, and effective study strategies can greatly increase the likelihood of not only passing but excelling in this subject.

Get help with A-Level History

The world's leading online A-Level History tutors trusted by students, parents, and schools globally.

4.92 /5 based on 480 reviews

What topics are in History A-level?

A-Level History covers a broad and diverse range of topics, offering students the opportunity to explore various periods and events in depth. The subject matter spans across centuries and continents, ensuring a comprehensive understanding of the world's history. Key areas of study typically include:

  • Modern History : Focusing on the 19th and 20th centuries, topics often cover significant global events, revolutions, and the development of modern nations.
  • British History : An essential component, with studies ranging from mediaeval times to the present day, reflecting on the social, political, and economic evolution of Britain.
  • European and World History : Encompassing a wide array of subjects such as the rise and fall of empires, the World Wars, and the Cold War era.
  • Thematic Studies : These might explore specific themes like migration, trade, religion, or science and technology across different periods and locations.

The AQA exam board, for example, offers topics such as the British Empire c1857–1967, the making of a Superpower: USA, 1865–1975, and the quest for political stability: Germany, 1871–1991. The OCR board provides over 50 topics including British period studies and non-British history, encouraging critical thinking and reflection.

CIE A-Level History Syllabus

The CIE A-Level History syllabus offers an extensive study of key historical events and figures, fostering critical analysis and evaluation skills. It prepares students to understand and interpret complex narratives, crucial for navigating today’s information-rich world.

Table showing CIE A-Level History syllabus

Note : AS Level topics rotate between papers 1 and 2 year-on-year. The prescribed topic for Paper 1 in any given year is not used for Paper 2.

AQA A-Level History Syllabus

The AQA A-Level History syllabus delves into diverse historical themes and periods, enhancing students' ability to critically evaluate sources and arguments. It sharpens analytical skills, preparing them to tackle complex issues and understand their historical context in today’s world.

Table showing AQA A-Level History syllabus

Further instructions are provided by AQA for the A-Level History exam:

Prohibited Combinations

Students must study a British history option for either Component 1 or Component 2. If a British history option is chosen for Component 1, it must be combined with a non-British option for Component 2. If a British history option is chosen for Component 2, it must be combined with a non-British option for Component 1. Any British option may be combined with any non-British option, other than the following:

  • 1C The Tudors may not be combined with 2C The Reformation in Europe
  • 1D Stuart Britain and the Crisis of Monarchy may not be combined with 2F The Sun King: Louis XIV, France and Europe

This is because there is a strong conceptual emphasis which runs across both breadth and depth options which would result in a narrowing of the student’s experience.

The following are designated British history options:

Component 1

  • 1C The Tudors: England, 1485–1603
  • 1D Stuart Britain and the Crisis of Monarchy, 1603–1702
  • 1F Industrialisation and the People: Britain, c1783–1885
  • 1G Challenge and Transformation: Britain, c1851–1964
  • 1J The British Empire, c1857–1967

Component 2

  • 2A Royal Authority and the Angevin Kings, 1154–1216
  • 2B The Wars of the Roses, 1450–1499
  • 2D Religious Conflict and the Church in England, c1529–c1570
  • 2E The English Revolution, 1625–1660
  • 2M Wars and Welfare: Britain in Transition, 1906–1957
  • 2S The Making of Modern Britain, 1951–2007

Edexcel A-Level History Syllabus

The Edexcel A-Level History syllabus emphasizes detailed studies of specific eras, cultivating students' abilities to analyse and debate historical evidence and perspectives. This prepares them for informed critical thinking and engagement with current and historical debates.

Table showing Edexcel A-Level History syllabus

Note : Students take one option each from the following:

  • 2A.1 to 2H.2

This sums up to be a total of 3 for 3 papers. It is discussed in depth in the exam structure section.

OCR A-Level History Syllabus

The OCR A-Level History syllabus enhances critical thinking through deep analysis of historical events and interpretations, equipping students with the skills to evaluate evidence and construct coherent arguments, vital for academic and professional success.

Table showing OCR A-Level History syllabus

Each exam board has its own set of modules and topics, allowing schools to choose those most relevant or interesting to their students. This flexibility means that students can engage with a variety of historical perspectives and methodologies, preparing them for further education or careers where analytical and evaluative skills are essential.

What is the A-Level History exam structure?

The A-Level History exam structure is designed to assess students' understanding, analytical skills, and ability to engage with historical evidence and debates. While the specific format of key questions can vary between exam boards, the general structure across AQA, OCR, and Edexcel includes:

  • Written Examinations : These form the core of the assessment and are typically divided into several papers, focusing on different periods or themes.
  • Breadth Study : Examines a broad period of history, assessing understanding of long-term changes and continuities.
  • Depth Study : Focuses on a shorter, more detailed timeframe, requiring in-depth knowledge and analysis.
  • Historical Investigation : A component that involves coursework or a written project on a chosen topic, contributing to the final grade for some exam boards.

Key features include:

  • Essay Questions : Require students to construct coherent arguments, supported by historical evidence.
  • Source Analysis : Students analyse primary and secondary sources to interpret perspectives and biases.
  • Comparative Questions : Involve comparing different historical periods, events, or figures.

The exams are typically held at the end of the two-year A-Level course. The exact duration and number of questions can differ, but exams usually last between 1.5 to 3 hours. The coursework element, where applicable, allows students to explore a historical topic of their choice in depth, demonstrating research skills and critical analysis.

CIE A-Level History Exam Structure

The CIE A-Level History exam structure includes detailed essays, source analysis, and thematic studies, designed to test students' knowledge, analytical abilities, and understanding of historical context and perspectives, ensuring a comprehensive assessment of their grasp of the subject.

Table showing CIE A-Level History exam structure

AQA A-Level History Exam Structure

The AQA A-Level History exam structure features a mix of source-based questions and essay writing, assessing students' ability to critically evaluate evidence and present coherent arguments. It includes breadth and depth studies, ensuring a well-rounded evaluation of students' historical understanding and analytical skills.

Table showing AQA A-Level History exam structure

Note : Through the topics studied in Components 1, 2 and 3 (Historical investigation), A-level students must cover a chronological range of at least 200 years.

Edexcel A-Level History Exam Structure

The Edexcel A-Level History exam consists of thematic studies and breadth with source evaluations, focusing on depth studies and historical interpretations. This structure assesses students’ comprehension, analytical skills, and ability to engage critically with historical themes and evidence, fostering a detailed understanding of specific periods.

Table showing Edexcel A-Level History exam structure

OCR A-Level History Exam Structure

The OCR A-Level History exam structure combines thematic studies, source evaluations, and period studies to assess students' analytical skills, understanding of historical context, and ability to construct well-supported arguments. It's designed to test a comprehensive range of historical knowledge and critical thinking abilities.

Table showing OCR A-Level History exam structure

*Learners who are retaking a qualification can choose either to retake the non exam assessment unit or to carry forward their mark for that unit. See Section 4d of OCR A-Level History specification for more details.

*Also includes synoptic assessment.

This structured approach ensures that students not only memorise historical facts but also develop the ability to critically evaluate information and present reasoned arguments, skills that are valuable in many fields beyond history.

Choosing the Right Exam Board

Selecting the appropriate exam board for A-Level History is crucial as it can influence the topics studied, the exam format, and the assessment criteria. In the UK, the main exam boards offering A-Level History are CIE , AQA , Edexcel and OCR . Each has its own focus and approach to history, making the choice significant for teachers and students alike. Key considerations include:

  • CIE : Known for its international perspective, CIE attracts the most applicants globally, offering a wide range of historical themes with a global outlook.
  • AQA : With 20,964 candidates in the UK in 2023, AQA is popular for its comprehensive coverage of British and modern European history.
  • Edexcel : Attracting 13,272 applicants in the UK in 2023, Edexcel is favoured for its structured approach and detailed study options, including coursework.
  • OCR : With 10,388 candidates in the UK in 2023, OCR offers unique topics that often include British history, making it a choice for those interested in a deep dive into the history of the UK.

When choosing an exam board, consider:

  • Content and Topics : Which periods or themes are you most interested in?
  • Assessment Method : Do you prefer coursework or solely exam-based assessment?
  • Resources and Support : Which exam board offers the best resources and support for your learning style?

Deciding on an exam board is a decision that should be based on your interests, strengths, and future aspirations. Discussing with teachers and researching each board's specifications can help make an informed choice that aligns with your academic goals.

How do you get an A* in A-Level History?

Achieving an A* in A-Level History requires a combination of depth of knowledge, analytical skills, and effective revision and examination strategies. Given the rigorous nature of the subject, students need to go beyond the basic requirements to stand out. Key strategies include:

  • Comprehensive Understanding : Master the breadth and depth of your chosen topics, ensuring you have a thorough grasp of the key events, figures, and trends.
  • Critical Analysis : Develop the ability to critically evaluate historical sources and arguments. This involves recognising bias, analysing different interpretations, and forming your own reasoned conclusions.
  • Essay Writing Skills : Practise structuring coherent and persuasive essays that are well-supported with evidence. High marks are awarded for clear, analytical writing that directly addresses the question.
  • Effective Revision : Utilise a variety of revision techniques, including study notes, mind maps, and flashcards to reinforce your memory and understanding of complex topics.
  • Tutoring : Consider engaging with an A-Level tutor who can provide personalised feedback, help refine your exam technique, and deepen your understanding of challenging material.
  • Utilisation of Past Papers : Regularly practise with past exam papers and questions to familiarise yourself with the exam format and improve your time management skills.

Grades distribution of A-Level History in UK 2021-2023

Graph showing grades distribution of A-Level History in UK 2021-2023

Consistent effort and utilisation of available resources is very important. This can include school-provided materials, online resources, and study groups, alongside tutoring. Balancing broad factual knowledge with sharp analytical acumen and refined exam strategies is key to achieving the top grade in A-Level History.

Have a look at our comprehensive set of A-Level History Study Notes developed by expert A-Level teachers and examiners!

How do you write A-Level History essays?

Writing an A-Level History essay involves several key steps to ensure it is well-structured, insightful, and evidently supported:

1. Understand the Question : Identify key terms and what the question is asking you to do (e.g., analyse, compare, review, evaluate).

2. Plan Your Answer : Organise your thoughts and structure your essay into a clear introduction, body paragraphs, and a conclusion. Each body paragraph should focus on a single point or argument.

3. Use Evidence : Support your arguments with relevant historical evidence, including primary and secondary sources. Be sure to analyse the evidence, not just describe it.

4. Critical Analysis : Evaluate the significance of the evidence and different historians' interpretations. Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these viewpoints.

5. Conclusion : Summarise your main points and clearly state your conclusion, ensuring it directly answers the specific question above.

6. Proofread : Check for clarity, coherence, and any grammatical or spelling errors.

Focus on presenting a coherent argument supported by evidence, demonstrating your understanding of the topic and your ability to critically engage with historical material.

What are the best A-Levels to take with History?

Selecting A levels that complement History can enhance your understanding, offer interdisciplinary skills, and broaden your future academic and career options. The best A levels to take with History are those that develop critical thinking, analytical skills, and written communication. Complementary A levels include:

  • A-Level English Literature : Enhances your ability to analyse texts and understand historical contexts, improving essay-writing skills.
  • A-Level Politics : Offers insights into governmental systems and political theories, relevant to historical study.
  • A-Level Geography : Provides knowledge of how historical events have shaped landscapes and human societies.
  • A-Level Modern Foreign Languages : Improves understanding of other cultures, which can be beneficial for studying international history.
  • A-Level Economics : Gives an understanding of economic principles and historical economic trends.

Experts recommend choosing subjects that not only complement History but also match your interests and career aspirations. Universities often value the combination of History with subjects that demonstrate strong literacy skills and the ability to critically analyse information. This combination can prepare students for a range of degrees and career paths in law, journalism, education, and beyond.

Best A-Level History Resources

Identifying top-quality resources is essential for excelling in A-Level History. The right materials can deepen your understanding of complex historical events and themes, enhancing your ability to analyse and evaluate sources critically. Here are some of the best resources for A-Level History students, tailored to various exam boards:

  • Official Textbooks: Textbooks from official exam board sources provide the best study material required to ace the exam. Such can be found at the CIE resources page .
  • Tutoring : Personalised support can help clarify complex topics and refine exam techniques.
  • Study Notes : Customised study notes, particularly from services like TutorChase , are invaluable for revision.
  • Online Resources : Platforms such as BBC Bitesize , History Learning Site , and the Khan Academy offer a wealth of free content, including articles, video lessons, and quizzes.
  • Past Papers and Mark Schemes : Engaging with past exam papers and understanding mark schemes are crucial for exam success, providing insights into the types of questions asked and how to structure high-scoring answers.

Combining these resources with dedicated study can significantly enhance your performance in A-Level History, providing a solid foundation for both exams and coursework.

Common Challenges and How to Overcome Them

A-Level History students often face several challenges throughout their course, but with effective strategies and practice, these obstacles can be overcome.

  • Vast Amount of Content : The comprehensive syllabus can seem daunting. To manage this, create a structured revision timetable that breaks down the content into manageable segments, ensuring all topics are covered systematically.
  • Analysing Sources : Interpreting a variety of sources is essential but can be complex. Improve this skill by practising with a wide range of source materials and seeking feedback on your analyses to understand different perspectives and biases.
  • Essay Writing : The ability to write cohesive, argument-driven essays under exam conditions is critical. Enhance this skill by practising essay planning under timed conditions, focusing on structuring your arguments clearly and supporting them with relevant evidence.
  • Retention of Information : Remembering key dates, figures, and events is challenging. Employ active recall techniques such as flashcards, mind maps, and quiz-based revision apps to aid memory retention and make revising more interactive and engaging.

Employing these strategies can significantly alleviate the common hurdles faced by A-Level History students, leading to a more comprehensive understanding and better performance in exams.

Past Papers and Practise Questions

Utilising past papers and practise questions is a proven method for improving exam performance in A-Level History. These resources are invaluable for understanding the exam format, the types of test questions asked, and for honing your time management skills during the exam. Benefits include:

  • Familiarity with Exam Format : Regular practise with past papers helps students become accustomed to the structure and timing of the actual exam.
  • Identification of Weak Areas : Engaging with a wide range of questions allows students to identify areas where they need further study or understanding.
  • Application of Knowledge : Practise questions provide an opportunity to apply knowledge in an exam context, reinforcing learning and improving recall under pressure.
  • Improvement of Essay Writing Skills : Writing timed essays in response to past paper questions can significantly enhance the ability to construct coherent and persuasive arguments quickly.

Experts recommend beginning to work with past papers and practise questions well before the exam period. This should be integrated into your revision plan, with time set aside for reviewing answers and understanding mark schemes. Resources are available through exam board websites, educational platforms, and tutoring services, offering a wealth of questions for practise across all topics covered in the A-Level History syllabus.

Opportunities with A-Level History

A-Level History opens a wide array of opportunities, laying a strong foundation for further education and a variety of career paths. This qualification not only deepens understanding of historical events and processes but also hones analytical, research, and writing skills that are highly valued in many fields.

Gender distribution across A-Level History

Pie chart showing gender distribution across A-Level History

Majors in Higher Education:

  • History and Related Disciplines : Direct progression to degrees in history, politics, archaeology, and international relations.
  • Law : Equips students with critical thinking and analytical skills necessary for legal studies.
  • Journalism and Media : Develops skills in research, analysis, and communication, essential for careers in writing, reporting, and broadcasting.

Career Paths:

  • Historian : Engaging with archives, museums, and educational institutions to research, interpret, and present history.
  • Lawyer or Barrister : Utilising analytical skills and an understanding of historical contexts in legal practice.
  • Journalist or Writer : Crafting compelling narratives based on thorough research and analysis.
  • Education : Teaching history or social sciences at various levels, from secondary education to university professorship.
  • Public Sector and Policy Making : Analysing historical data to inform policy decisions and government strategies.

Skills Development:

  • Critical Analysis : The ability to evaluate sources and arguments critically.
  • Research Skills : Proficiency in conducting thorough and effective research.
  • Communication : Articulating complex ideas clearly and persuasively in both written and oral form.
  • Problem-Solving : Approaching challenges with a strategic and analytical mindset.

Pursuing A-Level History not only paves the way for academic pursuits in a range of humanities and social science subjects but also equips students with a versatile skill set applicable in numerous professional sectors, including education, law, public administration, and the media. This breadth of opportunities highlights the value of history in fostering a well-rounded and adaptable skill set.

Conclusion on A-Level History

A-Level History stands out as a rigorous and enriching subject that offers students a profound understanding of the past and its impact on the present and future. Through the study of a wide range of periods and themes, students develop a comprehensive skill set, including critical analysis, research, and communication, which are highly valued in both higher education and the workplace. It is a subject that challenges students to think critically about the past, understand its complexities, and apply these insights to the challenges of the modern world.

Can I study A-Level History without a GCSE in History?

Yes, you can study A-Level History without having a GCSE in the subject . Many schools and colleges understand that students may develop an interest in history later on or may not have had the opportunity to study it at GCSE level. However, it's important to demonstrate strong reading and writing skills, as these are crucial for success in A-Level History. It would be beneficial to discuss your interest and academic background with your teachers, as they can provide guidance and support to help bridge any knowledge gaps.

How many hours should I study for A-Level History weekly?

For A-Level History, aiming for around 4-5 hours of independent study per week , in addition to your class time, is a good guideline. This allows you to thoroughly cover the syllabus content, develop your essay-writing skills, and engage with primary and secondary sources. Remember, quality over quantity is key; focused, uninterrupted study sessions are more effective than longer, less productive ones. Tailor your study time to suit your learning pace and adjust as needed, especially before exams or when working on coursework.

Are there any recommended documentaries for A-Level History students?

Certainly! Documentaries can offer engaging insights into historical events, figures, and periods, complementing your A-Level History studies. Here are a few recommendations:

  • "The World at War" - An in-depth series on World War II.
  • "The Civil War" by Ken Burns - A comprehensive look at the American Civil War.
  • "The Vietnam War" also by Ken Burns - Explores the Vietnam War from multiple perspectives.
  • "The Ascent of Civilisations" - Examines the history of civilisations around the globe.
  • "Russia's History Revealed" - Delves into the complex history of Russia.

These documentaries can provide a broader historical context for the specific topics you're studying, making historical events more relatable and easier to understand.

Can A-Level History be combined with Science A-Levels?

Absolutely, A-Level History can be effectively combined with Science A-Levels . This combination offers a well-rounded education, enhancing both your analytical and empirical skills. History develops critical thinking, argumentation, and essay-writing abilities, which complement the logical, problem-solving skills fostered by Science subjects. This interdisciplinary approach can open up diverse pathways for higher education and careers, ranging from law and journalism to science and engineering. It demonstrates to universities and employers that you have a broad skill set and are adaptable to various challenges.

What is AO2 in history A-level?

In A-Level History, AO2 refers to the assessment objective focused on "Analysis and Evaluation." This objective assesses your ability to analyse historical events, periods, and concepts critically. It involves evaluating different interpretations of history, including contrasting opinions and historiographies, and making informed judgments. Excelling in AO2 requires you to not only present facts but also to engage with them critically, discussing their significance, the reliability of sources, and the perspectives of historians. This skill is vital for constructing well-argued essays and achieving high marks.

What are the most popular history topics?

The most popular history topics at A-Level often include those that cover significant events, periods, and movements that have shaped the modern world. These typically involve:

  • The World Wars : Examining the causes, major battles, and consequences of World Wars I and II.
  • The Cold War : Exploring the geopolitical tension between the Eastern and Western blocs.
  • The Tudors : Delving into the reigns and impacts of Tudor monarchs on England.
  • The Civil Rights Movement in the USA : Studying the struggle for racial equality in the 20th century.
  • The French Revolution : Understanding the causes, key events, and outcomes of the revolution.

These topics are popular due to their profound impact on contemporary society and politics, offering students a deep insight into the complexities of historical change and continuity.

What are easy history topics?

While "easy" can be subjective, depending on individual interests and strengths, some history topics are considered more accessible due to their straightforward narrative and abundance of resources. These might include:

  • The Industrial Revolution : Focused on technological advancements and their societal impacts, with clear cause-and-effect relationships.
  • The Elizabethan Era : Centred around Queen Elizabeth I's reign, this period is well-documented, making it easier to study.
  • The American Revolution : Offers a clear storyline of the struggle for independence from Britain, with defined events and figures.
  • Ancient Civilisations : Such as Ancient Egypt or Rome, where the focus is often on culture, society, and innovations, which can be more straightforward to understand.
  • The Suffragette Movement : A specific social change movement with a wealth of sources and a clear narrative of progress and impact.

These topics often have extensive resources available, including textbooks, documentaries, and online materials, making them more accessible for students.

How many paragraphs are in a level history?

An A-Level History essay typically consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The number of body paragraphs depends on the essay's length and complexity but usually ranges from three to six . Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea or argument, supported by evidence and analysis. This structure ensures a clear and logical progression of ideas, helping to articulate a coherent response to the essay question. The key is to ensure each paragraph contributes effectively to your overall argument.

Need help from an expert?

The world’s top online tutoring provider trusted by students, parents, and schools globally.

Study and Practice for Free

Trusted by 100,000+ Students Worldwide

Achieve Top Grades in Your Exams with our Free Resources:

STUDY NOTES

Expert-crafted notes designed to make learning the material engaging and clear.

PRACTICE QUESTIONS

Comprehensive questions to boost your revision and exam preparedness.

PAST EXAM PAPERS

Extensive collection of previous exam papers for effective revision.

Need Expert Help?

If you’re looking for assistance with your A-Levels, get in touch with the TutorChase team and we’ll be able to provide you with an expert A-Level History tutor . We’ll be there every step of the way!

Charlie

Professional tutor and Cambridge University researcher

Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Written by: Dr Rahil Sachak-Patwa

Rahil spent ten years working as private tutor, teaching students for GCSEs, A-Levels, and university admissions. During his PhD he published papers on modelling infectious disease epidemics and was a tutor to undergraduate and masters students for mathematics courses.

Related Posts

Top 10 Hardest A-Levels

Top 10 Hardest A-Levels

Top A-Level Revision Websites

Top A-Level Revision Websites

A-Levels: A Complete Guide

A-Levels: A Complete Guide

background image

Hire a tutor

Please fill out the form and we'll find a tutor for you

  • Select your country
  • Afghanistan
  • Åland Islands
  • American Samoa
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Bouvet Island
  • British Indian Ocean Territory
  • Brunei Darussalam
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cayman Islands
  • Central African Republic
  • Christmas Island
  • Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Congo, The Democratic Republic of the
  • Cook Islands
  • Cote D'Ivoire
  • Czech Republic
  • Dominican Republic
  • El Salvador
  • Equatorial Guinea
  • Falkland Islands (Malvinas)
  • Faroe Islands
  • French Guiana
  • French Polynesia
  • French Southern Territories
  • Guinea-Bissau
  • Heard Island and Mcdonald Islands
  • Holy See (Vatican City State)
  • Iran, Islamic Republic Of
  • Isle of Man
  • Korea, Democratic People'S Republic of
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Lao People'S Democratic Republic
  • Libyan Arab Jamahiriya
  • Liechtenstein
  • Macedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic of
  • Marshall Islands
  • Micronesia, Federated States of
  • Moldova, Republic of
  • Netherlands
  • Netherlands Antilles
  • New Caledonia
  • New Zealand
  • Norfolk Island
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • Palestinian Territory, Occupied
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Philippines
  • Puerto Rico
  • Russian Federation
  • Saint Helena
  • Saint Kitts and Nevis
  • Saint Lucia
  • Saint Pierre and Miquelon
  • Saint Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Saudi Arabia
  • Serbia and Montenegro
  • Sierra Leone
  • Solomon Islands
  • South Africa
  • South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands
  • Svalbard and Jan Mayen
  • Switzerland
  • Syrian Arab Republic
  • Taiwan, Province of China
  • Tanzania, United Republic of
  • Timor-Leste
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Turkmenistan
  • Turks and Caicos Islands
  • United Arab Emirates
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
  • United States Minor Outlying Islands
  • Virgin Islands, British
  • Virgin Islands, U.S.
  • Wallis and Futuna
  • Western Sahara

background

Still have questions? Let’s get in touch.

history essays a level

How to write an introduction for a history essay

Facade of the Ara Pacis

Every essay needs to begin with an introductory paragraph. It needs to be the first paragraph the marker reads.

While your introduction paragraph might be the first of the paragraphs you write, this is not the only way to do it.

You can choose to write your introduction after you have written the rest of your essay.

This way, you will know what you have argued, and this might make writing the introduction easier.

Either approach is fine. If you do write your introduction first, ensure that you go back and refine it once you have completed your essay. 

What is an ‘introduction paragraph’?

An introductory paragraph is a single paragraph at the start of your essay that prepares your reader for the argument you are going to make in your body paragraphs .

It should provide all of the necessary historical information about your topic and clearly state your argument so that by the end of the paragraph, the marker knows how you are going to structure the rest of your essay.

In general, you should never use quotes from sources in your introduction.

Introduction paragraph structure

While your introduction paragraph does not have to be as long as your body paragraphs , it does have a specific purpose, which you must fulfil.

A well-written introduction paragraph has the following four-part structure (summarised by the acronym BHES).

B – Background sentences

H – Hypothesis

E – Elaboration sentences

S - Signpost sentence

Each of these elements are explained in further detail, with examples, below:

1. Background sentences

The first two or three sentences of your introduction should provide a general introduction to the historical topic which your essay is about. This is done so that when you state your hypothesis , your reader understands the specific point you are arguing about.

Background sentences explain the important historical period, dates, people, places, events and concepts that will be mentioned later in your essay. This information should be drawn from your background research . 

Example background sentences:

Middle Ages (Year 8 Level)

Castles were an important component of Medieval Britain from the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 until they were phased out in the 15 th and 16 th centuries. Initially introduced as wooden motte and bailey structures on geographical strongpoints, they were rapidly replaced by stone fortresses which incorporated sophisticated defensive designs to improve the defenders’ chances of surviving prolonged sieges.

WWI (Year 9 Level)

The First World War began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The subsequent declarations of war from most of Europe drew other countries into the conflict, including Australia. The Australian Imperial Force joined the war as part of Britain’s armed forces and were dispatched to locations in the Middle East and Western Europe.

Civil Rights (Year 10 Level)

The 1967 Referendum sought to amend the Australian Constitution in order to change the legal standing of the indigenous people in Australia. The fact that 90% of Australians voted in favour of the proposed amendments has been attributed to a series of significant events and people who were dedicated to the referendum’s success.

Ancient Rome (Year 11/12 Level)  

In the late second century BC, the Roman novus homo Gaius Marius became one of the most influential men in the Roman Republic. Marius gained this authority through his victory in the Jugurthine War, with his defeat of Jugurtha in 106 BC, and his triumph over the invading Germanic tribes in 101 BC, when he crushed the Teutones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae (102 BC) and the Cimbri at the Battle of Vercellae (101 BC). Marius also gained great fame through his election to the consulship seven times.

2. Hypothesis

Once you have provided historical context for your essay in your background sentences, you need to state your hypothesis .

A hypothesis is a single sentence that clearly states the argument that your essay will be proving in your body paragraphs .

A good hypothesis contains both the argument and the reasons in support of your argument. 

Example hypotheses:

Medieval castles were designed with features that nullified the superior numbers of besieging armies but were ultimately made obsolete by the development of gunpowder artillery.

Australian soldiers’ opinion of the First World War changed from naïve enthusiasm to pessimistic realism as a result of the harsh realities of modern industrial warfare.

The success of the 1967 Referendum was a direct result of the efforts of First Nations leaders such as Charles Perkins, Faith Bandler and the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders.

Gaius Marius was the most one of the most significant personalities in the 1 st century BC due to his effect on the political, military and social structures of the Roman state.

3. Elaboration sentences

Once you have stated your argument in your hypothesis , you need to provide particular information about how you’re going to prove your argument.

Your elaboration sentences should be one or two sentences that provide specific details about how you’re going to cover the argument in your three body paragraphs.

You might also briefly summarise two or three of your main points.

Finally, explain any important key words, phrases or concepts that you’ve used in your hypothesis, you’ll need to do this in your elaboration sentences.

Example elaboration sentences:

By the height of the Middle Ages, feudal lords were investing significant sums of money by incorporating concentric walls and guard towers to maximise their defensive potential. These developments were so successful that many medieval armies avoided sieges in the late period.

Following Britain's official declaration of war on Germany, young Australian men voluntarily enlisted into the army, which was further encouraged by government propaganda about the moral justifications for the conflict. However, following the initial engagements on the Gallipoli peninsula, enthusiasm declined.

The political activity of key indigenous figures and the formation of activism organisations focused on indigenous resulted in a wider spread of messages to the general Australian public. The generation of powerful images and speeches has been frequently cited by modern historians as crucial to the referendum results.

While Marius is best known for his military reforms, it is the subsequent impacts of this reform on the way other Romans approached the attainment of magistracies and how public expectations of military leaders changed that had the longest impacts on the late republican period.

4. Signpost sentence

The final sentence of your introduction should prepare the reader for the topic of your first body paragraph. The main purpose of this sentence is to provide cohesion between your introductory paragraph and you first body paragraph .

Therefore, a signpost sentence indicates where you will begin proving the argument that you set out in your hypothesis and usually states the importance of the first point that you’re about to make. 

Example signpost sentences:

The early development of castles is best understood when examining their military purpose.

The naïve attitudes of those who volunteered in 1914 can be clearly seen in the personal letters and diaries that they themselves wrote.

The significance of these people is evident when examining the lack of political representation the indigenous people experience in the early half of the 20 th century.

The origin of Marius’ later achievements was his military reform in 107 BC, which occurred when he was first elected as consul.

Putting it all together

Once you have written all four parts of the BHES structure, you should have a completed introduction paragraph. In the examples above, we have shown each part separately. Below you will see the completed paragraphs so that you can appreciate what an introduction should look like.

Example introduction paragraphs: 

Castles were an important component of Medieval Britain from the time of the Norman conquest in 1066 until they were phased out in the 15th and 16th centuries. Initially introduced as wooden motte and bailey structures on geographical strongpoints, they were rapidly replaced by stone fortresses which incorporated sophisticated defensive designs to improve the defenders’ chances of surviving prolonged sieges. Medieval castles were designed with features that nullified the superior numbers of besieging armies, but were ultimately made obsolete by the development of gunpowder artillery. By the height of the Middle Ages, feudal lords were investing significant sums of money by incorporating concentric walls and guard towers to maximise their defensive potential. These developments were so successful that many medieval armies avoided sieges in the late period. The early development of castles is best understood when examining their military purpose.

The First World War began in 1914 following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. The subsequent declarations of war from most of Europe drew other countries into the conflict, including Australia. The Australian Imperial Force joined the war as part of Britain’s armed forces and were dispatched to locations in the Middle East and Western Europe. Australian soldiers’ opinion of the First World War changed from naïve enthusiasm to pessimistic realism as a result of the harsh realities of modern industrial warfare. Following Britain's official declaration of war on Germany, young Australian men voluntarily enlisted into the army, which was further encouraged by government propaganda about the moral justifications for the conflict. However, following the initial engagements on the Gallipoli peninsula, enthusiasm declined. The naïve attitudes of those who volunteered in 1914 can be clearly seen in the personal letters and diaries that they themselves wrote.

The 1967 Referendum sought to amend the Australian Constitution in order to change the legal standing of the indigenous people in Australia. The fact that 90% of Australians voted in favour of the proposed amendments has been attributed to a series of significant events and people who were dedicated to the referendum’s success. The success of the 1967 Referendum was a direct result of the efforts of First Nations leaders such as Charles Perkins, Faith Bandler and the Federal Council for the Advancement of Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders. The political activity of key indigenous figures and the formation of activism organisations focused on indigenous resulted in a wider spread of messages to the general Australian public. The generation of powerful images and speeches has been frequently cited by modern historians as crucial to the referendum results. The significance of these people is evident when examining the lack of political representation the indigenous people experience in the early half of the 20th century.

In the late second century BC, the Roman novus homo Gaius Marius became one of the most influential men in the Roman Republic. Marius gained this authority through his victory in the Jugurthine War, with his defeat of Jugurtha in 106 BC, and his triumph over the invading Germanic tribes in 101 BC, when he crushed the Teutones at the Battle of Aquae Sextiae (102 BC) and the Cimbri at the Battle of Vercellae (101 BC). Marius also gained great fame through his election to the consulship seven times. Gaius Marius was the most one of the most significant personalities in the 1st century BC due to his effect on the political, military and social structures of the Roman state. While Marius is best known for his military reforms, it is the subsequent impacts of this reform on the way other Romans approached the attainment of magistracies and how public expectations of military leaders changed that had the longest impacts on the late republican period. The origin of Marius’ later achievements was his military reform in 107 BC, which occurred when he was first elected as consul.

Additional resources

history essays a level

What do you need help with?

Download ready-to-use digital learning resources.

history essays a level

Copyright © History Skills 2014-2024.

Contact  via email

The UK National Charity for History

Password Sign In

Become a Member | Register for free

Essay Writing

Student Guides

history essays a level

  • Add to My HA Add to folder Default Folder [New Folder] Add

History is not just about writing lots of essays! It is also about discussion, debate and evidence. However, there will be, as with many other subjects at A-Level, some essays to write - but it is not as tough as it looks. Essay writing is a skill that you will get better at over time, but you might find the guide below useful to help you along.

How to Write a History Essay

  • Are you new to the 6th form?
  • Are you already in the 6th form but worried about your essay writing skills?
  • Are you moving on to study history at university?

Then this could be just what you need! This guide will not help you to get outstanding grades - that is up to you, but it will prepare you with the skills that you need to produce that masterpiece!

Key Features: The Must Haves

A-Level/Undergraduate essays should contain the following features; although it depends on the type of essay you are writing as to how far you go; for example, a personal study or dissertation will require a great deal of historiography and referencing, whereas class essays may require less. If you are unsure as to how much your teacher will expect, it is best to ask! 

A well considered argument - This is VERY important to get right. It means that you will need to make sure that you clearly state your line of argument and do it convincingly. At the same time, you will also need to give full coverage to other factors/opinions/arguments that are at play - even if it is to rubbish them!

Reference to the question

An introduction

A middle -  the substantive part of the essay, where you present the evidence and arguments

A conclusion

Footnotes and bibliography

Before You Start...

The key to success in any history essay is preparation. This not only includes focussed and wide reading around the topic, but also your preparation of your thoughts and arguments. Richard Harris, experienced history teacher and now lecturer in education at Southampton University provides a very good starting point for essay writing. His plan is designed to get you thinking and planning your structure before you write. You can find a copy of this planning sheet at the end of the guide. 

1) Considered Argument

The key to providing a considered argument is to read widely! What is the historiography (views of different historians) surrounding the topic? What evidence is there to support different lines of argument? Your job is firstly to present these lines of argument.

Secondly, you should critically evaluate these views and evidence as you explain them. Is there evidence to counteract? By providing a considered argument - what we don't mean is that you sit on the fence! Every essay MUST have an argument, but by considered, we simply mean that you should be prepared to consider other arguments/factors, other than your own view, even if it is to critically evaluate them and dismiss their importance! But you must be convincing and be prepared to examine them fully.

At A level, the mark-schemes tend to be stepped into 5 different levels; you cannot progress beyond level 2/3 if you do not provide a well considered argument! The examiner wants to see what your opinion is, but they also want to know that you have not just "plucked" this opinion from nowhere - they want to see that you have considered the topic fully, taken account of all of the views and arguments before making your judgement. Therefore, you should stick to your line of argument throughout, but you should clearly evaluate other points of view, showing your reader how and why they are less valuable arguments than your own. 

2) Reference to the question

Where possible you should show how the evidence you are presenting links back to the question. You should refer back to the question wherever a link or piece of evidence provides some clues to help formulate an answer. This should help you to avoid going off track. Always think as you are writing "does this paragraph help to present the evidence to support my line of argument or help me to answer the question?" 

3) The Introduction

The introduction should set the scene. It should be short and snappy, no more than a few lines, but they are very important as you need to hook your reader in. There should be some very brief background detail to the question. You should also include some brief historiography - what is the main debate among historians about this issue? Who is saying what? You should also at this point wish to state what YOUR argument is going to be.

You should then refer back to the question by stating how you are going to measure/argue your case; a good way to do this is by referring back to the question itself. It should help you to get the question straight in your own mind too and give you some direction. For example, if you have a question asking you how significant an event was, you need to explain what is meant by significance and how you will measure this.

E.g. 'How significant was the Reichstag Fire in the Nazi revolution?'

When this question is analysed, bit by bit it helps us to explain to our reader what the essay intends to cover. 

4) The Middle

This is the substantive part of the essay. This is the bit where you have to present the evidence and arguments. It should predominantly contain your analysis/argument but you must also look at the counter-arguments and the views of historians.

  • Present evidence in a balanced way: You should present your argument/response to the question clearly and effectively, using the views of historians and other evidence to back up the points you make. On the other side, you should also consider the arguments against your own and critically evaluate them in order to show why they are less important/plausible than your own.
  • Present your evidence in a logical order : Try to avoid jumping around. Make a plan before you write that organizes your evidence logically. This could either be in themes or in chronological order.
  • Include analysis: You must make sure that you don't just fall into the trap of presenting evidence without analysis. This reads more like a list! When presenting a piece of evidence or the view of a historian, don't forget to critically analyse. Is the evidence reliable? Is the view of the historian reliable or are they writing from a specific viewpoint? Are there different interpretations? What do you think? Is it a valid point?
  • Refer often to the title: Don't forget to link your points back to the question where possible. It will help your essay and your reader stay focused on the answer to the question!

How to Structure Paragraphs:

It is important to structure your points within the scaffolding of the paragraph well. A good way to do this is to PEE all over your paragraphs!!!

Of course, don't take this literally and ruin your essay - what we mean is to use the PEE formula:

E - Example

E - Explanation.

This is a good habit to get into and a good way to provide structure. Simply make your point, give an example or piece of evidence to back it up, then explain it. What is the context? How or why is it significant/insignificant? How does it fit into the topic? How does it help to answer the question? 

Test yourself:

See if you can spot the PEE on this paragraph which forms part of an answer to the question "Was Edward IV a new monarch?"

"Edward's power did not increase at the expense of the nobility; a key criteria for new monarch status. Edward continued the tradition of letting powerful magnates rule the peripheral regions of the country, such as the North and Wales. This resulted in the creation of a number of large power bases including the Herberts in Wales, Gloucester in the North, the Percys in the eastern marshes and the Woodvilles in London. This was largely due to the small number of noble creations in his reign - he only made nine promotions to high nobility. On the one hand this shows that he was in form control as he had sufficient power and stability without having to make lots of noble creations to gain support, yet on the other hand he was creating a volatile situation as rivalries built up between powerful factions and Edward was cresting a potentially explosive situation which only he could control." 

5) Conclusion

This is the end of the essay. This is the bit where you are expected to answer the question! Here you should sum up in a couple of sentences what your argument is, and why it is the most plausible explanation, being careful to remind the reader of supportive evidence. Finally, you should put the essay in context. Explain the wider context to the question. It might be that there are longer-term or under the surface issues that need further exploration, or it may be that there is a bigger picture in play. By putting your answer in context, we don't mean just adding some extra facts about the period at the end - your setting in context should display your broader understanding of the period. A good example of this is when a student was writing about the Golden Age of Spain:

"In conclusion, the extent to whether this period can be deemed as a "Golden Age" ultimately rests on the context of the time. Although it is true to say that Spain was making advances in several areas, in terms of power, unity, wealth, economy, culture, empire and discovery. The extent of religious and racial persecution however, could be deemed as less golden in terms of morality, even if both policies were successful in terms of strengthening Spain's power base. In the wider context of the time, Spain's achievements seem less golden than they may at first appear. We have to remember that this period saw the Renaissance. The Renaissance affected practically every area of life at the time, and was a new dawn of discovery and thinking -  Leonardo Da Vinci, William Harvey, Martin Luther, Copernicus and Galileo were but a few of the characters that shaped the time;  therefore, if Spain had a golden age, so too did many other countries." 

  • Re-state your argument using the key words from the title
  • Be confident in your argument
  • Hint at a broader context
  • What other issues would you explore, given more time? 

6) Footnotes and Bibliography

At A-Level and undergraduate level, you will be expected to footnote your essays. Because you are not expected to do this at GCSE, this may be a new skill for you, but it is very easy! 

What are footnotes?

When you quote evidence or the views of a historian from a book or periodical, you are expected to let your reader know where you got this evidence from, so that if they wished (very few would) they could go and check your evidence. You can do this by including citations or footnotes.       

How to Footnote

The process of footnoting is slightly different on different computer programs and may differ again if you are using a MAC, but the process is the same, even if you are handwriting.

Footnotes should be numbered and should either appear at the bottom of the page on which they are cited or in a list at the end of the essay. They should include the following information:

1.) Author's name (surname first)

2.) Date and place of publication (found on the first page of the book usually)

3.) Title of book (in italics)

4.) Page reference. 

How to footnote on the computer

If you have Microsoft Office, the simplest way to insert a footnote is by going to the references section on the tool-bar and then following the instructions above. If you are using an earlier version of Office, you should click on insert and then select footnote from the list.

Below is an example to illustrate what a footnote should look like:

"Leo, the holy pope in Rome, passed away; and in this year there was a great pestilence among cattle than man could remember for many years..." [1]   

Footnote extras

  • If the book is a collection of articles or a reproduction of primary source material, it will not have an author, but an editor instead. If the main name on the book is an editor, you need to write the letters (ed.) next to the name.
  • If your next footnote in the sequence is from the same book, but a different page, you do not need to write out all of the information again, you can simply write the word "Ibid" which means same source and then cite the page number. However, you should only do this once in any given sequence. If you have 3 quotes in a row from the same book, the third time, you should write out the information again. 

What is a bibliography?

A bibliography is the list of books that you have used to help you write your essay. This may include books that you have quoted from or used as part of your reading.

You should always include a bibliography at the end of your essay which lists the books that you have used. You can use the same format as you would for footnotes. Below is a sample to show you how it should look.

1.) Campbell, J (ed) Cambridge 1982 - The Anglo-Saxons

2.) Swanton, M (ed) J.M Dent 1997 - The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle                                                  

The Harvard Footnote System

Another option to make sure you have referenced correctly is to use the simpler Harvard system. This may be a preferred method for the writing of normal class essays, although for a personal study, the use of traditional footnoting is still recommended. Harvard referencing uses the author and the date of the work in the main body of the text, and then has a reference list at the end of the essay which contains the references cited in alphabetical order by author. The reference list contains the full details of the book or journal cited. Because you only refer to a shortened form of works in the main essay (author, date) your essay doesn't get filled with too much reference material. The use of the author/date shorthand does make it easy to locate works in the reference list.

An example from the main body of a text:

Within the last ten years, teachers who have attended INSET courses have reported that the courses have helped to increase their competence and confidence in using IT (see, for example, Higham and Morris, 1993; ESRC 1990), yet despite the fact that the passing years have presented opportunities for more teachers to increase their skills in IT, weaknesses identified by McCoy (1992) seem to be still evident (Gillmon, 1998; Goldstein 1997). This suggests that we need to look for explanations other than attendance at INSET courses for the reasons for the apparently poor state of teachers' competence and confidence in IT.

In this text the author is citing entire works by other researchers to support her argument. Notice the use of brackets and the author/s and dates of all works.

Another example from the main body of a text:

One resource provided in the secondary speech genre is the "posited author" (Bakhtin, 1981, p. 312).

Here the quotation is a direct one so a page number has been added. Quotations of no more than two sentences can be incorporated into the main text and marked off with quotation marks, but if you quote a longer passage it must be placed in a separate paragraph and indented from the left and right margins of the main text.

_______________ 

[1] Swanton, Michael (ed), J.M Dent 1997, The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, pg. 185

Attached files:

  • Essay Planning Sheet 54.5 KB Word document
  • How to write a synoptic essay
  • A-level 'how to' guides

School History

AQA A Level History Past Papers

A complete collection of aqa a level history past papers. perfect for preparation for upcoming exams. can be used at home for individual learning or within a classroom environment..

It’s time to start preparing for your exams and it’s never been easier with School History. We’ve got hundreds of past papers that are easy to use, come with mark schemes, and are specifically tailored to each specific examination board, so you can get the most from your revision time and enter your examination feeling confident and fully prepared.

Why use past exam papers?

The answer is simple: preparedness. As a A Level student, exams become an important part of your assessment criteria and preparation for A-levels. The use and importance of past papers, therefore, cannot be over-emphasised.

Fill in the blanks

Using past papers are an effective way to establish your strengths and weaknesses so you know where to focus your revision time. Don’t spend hours on a topic you’re familiar with while neglecting an area that needs more time and effort to familiarise yourself with.

Learn effective time management

Proper time management can quite literally mean the difference between passing and failing an exam, even if you know everything that’s required to pass. Your revision time and using past papers is an excellent way to start practicing how to properly manage the time in the exam setting. You’ll be given different styles of questions with different mark allocations, so it’s important to know what’s expected of you and how much time to dedicate to each question, whether its a multiple-choice question, short answer or an essay.

Walk into your exam with confidence

With proper preparation, it’s possible to walk into and out of your exam feeling confident. Confidence is key to performing well as doubt and anxiety can cloud your judgment and affect your ability to think clearly and make the proper decisions. Past papers are the most effective way to familiarise yourself with important terminology, vocabulary, and styles of questions so that you have a solid understanding of what is expected of you to excel in each and every style of question.

Get to know your questions

Remember, some questions will be assessing your knowledge and understanding of key features and characteristics of a period studied, others will require you to explain and analyse historic events, others will require you to compare and contrast source material and contextualise it in the historic environment, while thematic studies will require you to demonstrate knowledge clearly over centuries while following a particular theme. All of these questions require you to substantiate your answers using facts.

All these questions will be awarded marks in levels, i.e. basic, simple, developed and complex, and short answers and essay questions will also have marks awarded for spelling and grammar. By practicing with past papers you’ll have access to mark schemes, which examiners use to evaluate your responses and you’ll quickly learn how to achieve the most marks while striking the right balance with time management.

Where do I find past papers? Right here, of course! School History has hundreds of examination-style questions to help you practice for your history exams. By signing up, you’ll not only have access to past papers but thousands of resources related to what you’re studying, including notes, activities, quiz questions and more. Let’s dive in! Take a look below at the major examination boards we cover. Give yourself every advantage to excel in your exams and sign up today!

Marked by Teachers

  • TOP CATEGORIES
  • AS and A Level
  • University Degree
  • International Baccalaureate
  • Uncategorised
  • 5 Star Essays
  • Study Tools
  • Study Guides
  • Meet the Team

AS and A Level: History

"Explain why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin as ruler of the USSR"

"Explain why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin as ruler of the USSR"

The Succession of Lenin - Stalin or Trotsky 24th January 2004 "Explain why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin as ruler of the USSR" After Lenin's death in 1924, there was a struggle between the leading Bolsheviks to succeed Lenin as leader of the USSR. In the end, it emerged as a contest between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin. There were several reasons why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin, and it is these I shall be exploring in this essay. Trotsky seemed like the obvious successor, and consequently he became inactive. He was over-confident, arrogant, and failed to take any threat seriously, least of all the quiet Stalin and so did nothing to try to discredit Stalin or reverse the damage Stalin did to him. In late 1923, when Trotsky needed to be at his most active, he became ill with a malaria-like disease. He also failed to use his popularity in the Red Army to his advantage or to stop his removal from the Politburo or office of Commissar for War. Trotsky's inactiveness resulted in people thinking Stalin was better than him. Trotsky was unpopular in the party because of his inactiveness in increasing his popularity within the party. He couldn't rely on the vote from other party members as he regularly offended leading Bolsheviks like Zinoviev and Kamenev. A series of arguments with them heightened by Trotsky's 'The Lessons of

  • Word count: 795
  • Level: AS and A Level
  • Subject: History

"Foreign success; domestic failure." How fair is this summary of Bismarck's governance of Germany

"Foreign success; domestic failure." How fair is this summary of Bismarck's governance of Germany

"Foreign success; domestic failure." How fair is this summary of Bismarck's governance of Germany It is not fair to state that Bismarck failed domestically, however it is true to some extent that his foreign policies, in terms of success and to some extent importance, did overshadow his practically and theoretically limited domestic policies. It could be argued that these limitations were not because of Bismarck's political mismanagement but because of the social and political situation Germany held at the time. Bismarck was confronted by several impediments. The fact that Bismarck was faced with a religiously and socially disjointed federal state, holding several different political parties within the Reichstag, offered only hardship for domestic control. His position was further weakened due to his absence from Berlin, as a result of his poor health, reducing his control of the every day decision making. After 1871, Bismarck was persistently thwarted in his efforts to shape the domestic developments of the Reich. Bismarck's main domestic aim was to achieve unity within Germany. There was urgency for the need of legislation to establish an economic and legal framework for the Empire. Bismarck's influence over William gave him an immensely strong position, which he exploited. Bismarck ensured that other ministers were little more than senior clerks, carrying out his orders.

  • Word count: 3830

"Great-power politics rather than principles dominated the Vienna Settlement of 1915."  Discuss

"Great-power politics rather than principles dominated the Vienna Settlement of 1915." Discuss

"Great-power politics rather than principles dominated the Vienna Settlement of 1915." Discuss It is hardly surprising that the Settlement was dominated by the Great Powers for it was they who, at great cost, had defeated Napoleon and only they who had the strength to bring the turmoil that he had created to an end. So the most delicate negotiations and the key decisions took place, outside the formal sessions of the Conference, between the statesmen representing the victorious powers. The scheming of Talleyrand won France a place in the inner discussions but the representatives of the lesser nations were kept away from the decision-making. The Settlement is often studied through a survey of Great Power representatives, motives, tactics and rewards. At the end of this essay it will be argued that this situation does not necessarily mean that principles had no part to play in shaping the settlement of Europe. A lot may depend on how one defines a principle. The territorial arrangements arrived at offer a clear indication of the significant part played by Great Power politics. The Tsar Alexander pursued the traditional Russian policy of expansion westwards in order to provide deeper defences for the heart of his kingdom, securing both Finland and Poland for his pains. Hardenberg of Prussia had great ambitions to obtain all of Saxony... What the Great powers wanted in the

  • Word count: 917

"Guilty men" - how responsible were Chamberlain et.al for World War Two?

"Guilty men" - how responsible were Chamberlain et.al for World War Two?

Guilty men Neville Chamberlain was 68 years old when he succeeded Baldwin as PM on 28th May 1937. It was a post for which he would never fight a general election. As he was being groomed as future PM, he became more critical of policy decisions, sure that he could do better on foreign matters, and his diary recorded a constant lament. He felt that Hitler was the 'bully of Europe', and decided to hope for the best, and plan for the worst. Chamberlain embarked on a policy of deterrence and appeasement, searching for 'decency even in dictators'. Chamberlain saw war as the ultimate absurdity, and he desired peace at all costs. However, he believed in the principle of the 'vital cause', one which if you went to war for, and won you could say 'that cause is safe'. Chamberlain's view that Britain was 'a very rich and a very vulnerable empire' was supported by the idea that Europe was divided between two ideologies. He believed that it was up to Britain to defend itself, holding France and the league of nations in low regard, with similar views towards the US. He was always quick to refute support for certain ideologies, claiming total indifference to Nazism, Fascism and Bolshevism. Chamberlain believed that a nation should not make threats unless it can back them up with action, and that foreign policy is dictated by circumstances. The criticism of Chamberlain came strongly,

  • Word count: 854

"HITLER'S ECONOMIC POLICIES (1933-45) WERE ONLY CONCERNED WITH PREPARATION FOR WAR, AND THEN SUPPLYING THE NEEDS OF WAR."HOW FAR DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT?

"HITLER'S ECONOMIC POLICIES (1933-45) WERE ONLY CONCERNED WITH PREPARATION FOR WAR, AND THEN SUPPLYING THE NEEDS OF WAR."HOW FAR DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT?

"HITLER'S ECONOMIC POLICIES (1933-45) WERE ONLY CONCERNED WITH PREPARATION FOR WAR, AND THEN SUPPLYING THE NEEDS OF WAR."HOW FAR DO YOU AGREE WITH THIS STATEMENT? At the start of the period, Hitler had to deal with a number of problems-when the /Nazis came to power the German economy was not in a very good state and Hitler had this as his foremost concern. However, with the recovery of the economy came a clearer focus on preparation for war, and after the introduction of the 4-year plan in 1936, we can consider that there was a significant leaning towards this aim. In 1933, the German economy showed significant weaknesses in all its major areas. Although it was in fact at the end of the cycle of depression this was not yet clear and the recovery of the economy was of prime importance for Germany. Hitler himself also had little involvement at this stage- his interest was mainly ideological and he had limited economic understanding. Nazi economic policy in these early years revolved around traditional socialist principles; for example the nationalisation of industry, and focused on reducing unemployment and building up infrastructure. Schacht, who was in charge of running Germany's economy at the time, used deficit financing to encourage farming and small businesses with the aim of stimulating economic growth and promoting loyalty to the Nazis in a political twist to his

  • Word count: 1093

"How far do the sources suggest consistent aims in Mussolini's foreign policy 1922-39?"

"How far do the sources suggest consistent aims in Mussolini's foreign policy 1922-39?"

Will Taylor 12G1 HISTORY COURSEWORK ASSIGNMENT PART A "How far do the sources suggest consistent aims in Mussolini's foreign policy 1922-39?" Source 1 suggests that Mussolini has no consistent aim in his foreign policy, and that it was "optimistic and egotistic". Graham states that the foreign policy was "not based upon principles" but instead is a mercenary policy, doing anything that would benefit Mussolini's reputation within Italy. It suggests that Mussolini is taking an altruistic approach to foreign policy, and at the same time his foreign policy is purely "based on opportunism". There is a failure by Graham to perceive any coherence in Italian foreign policy, which may have been perfectly true in 1923. This source comes from the British ambassador of the time, and there would be little incentive to lie about current proceedings, and his information would need to be honest because it is being directed at the "His Majesty's Government". Despite the information in this source, it is clear in Source 3 that by 1939 Mussolini certainly does have a planned foreign policy. Source 3 is Mussolini stating his foreign policy aims to the Grand Council. His aims are clearly to gain control of the Mediterranean and gain passage to the oceans. It logically outlines considerations and how to achieve these aims. One of Mussolini's considerations is the resistance Italy would eb faced

  • Word count: 1096

"I was within the circle: so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear

"I was within the circle: so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear

"I was within the circle: so that I neither saw nor heard as those without might see and hear." (Frederick Douglass) What was the significance of the slave narratives and their authorship? Anti-slavery writings and slave narratives were undeniably significant and helpful in the abolitionists' fight against slavery. Many called them "the abolitionist movement's voice of reality." As they were first hand accounts of slavery from the African American slaves themselves. They depicted life as a slave and life after, and disproved the opinion that life as a slave was a happy one. They showed the "reality" of what was happening to slaves, and the mistreatment they were suffering at the hands of their masters. William Lloyd Garrison, David Walker, Harriet Jacobs and Frederick Douglass were some of the most important abolitionist writers. Each of these writers had different experiences with slavery, but they all had one thing in common: they tell of the abominable institution of slavery and how greatly it affected their lives. Frederick Douglass wrote his own slave narrative - Narrative in the life of Frederick Douglass, (which went on to become the biggest and best selling slave narrative still today) to give north Americans a closer account of slavery, it told about sexual, physical and mental abuse, the horrors of family separation and the inhuman workload at the hands of his

  • Word count: 2069

"In all that he did, his main aim was to secure himself in power." How far do you agree with this judgement on Napoleon's policies as First Consul?

"In all that he did, his main aim was to secure himself in power." How far do you agree with this judgement on Napoleon's policies as First Consul?

"In all that he did, his main aim was to secure himself in power." How far do you agree with this judgement on Napoleon's policies as First Consul? After the Coup of Brumaire in 1799, Napoleon emerged as the new leader of France and devised a system of government that gave him effective control over all aspects of life in France. He controlled religion, education, law-making, policing, legal reforms and the economic situation by putting in place a series of policies, designed both to comply with some principles of the Revolution whilst also giving Napoleon control and security in power. This essay looks to investigate how far each of these policies suggest that Napoleon's main aim was always to secure himself in power. Napoleons policy of police and propaganda is the most obviously repressive of all the policies. Many aspects of his heavy policing conform with dictatorial regimes, as does his policy of censorship and (often false or manipulated) propaganda. France became effectively a Police State, with Napoleon at the core. The Minister of Police, Joseph Fouché, who controlled National Security, established a network of informers who monitored public opinion and reported on any suspicious political activity. They also monitored everyday life in France: the education system; prisons; food supplies; conscription and public works. All findings were written in a daily report,

  • Word count: 2146

"In its intervention in South East Asia in the years 1950-1964, the USA was more concerned with defending its economic, than its ideological, interests"

"In its intervention in South East Asia in the years 1950-1964, the USA was more concerned with defending its economic, than its ideological, interests"

"In its intervention in South East Asia in the years 1950-1964, the USA was more concerned with defending its economic, than its ideological, interests" The Cold War is infamous as an ideological battle ground, in relation to American beliefs, the clashes of ideology could be seen to an extent as economic in nature; communism Vs capitalism and thus the two reasons are inextricably linked. Yet as America's longest war, it follows that the conflict was a complicated one. The contributing factors of American involvement changed as the war progressed. The initial reasons the U.S.A became involved were not the reasons that kept them there over 15 years later and thus the reasons America entered Vietnam changed over time. America primarily became involved out of fear of communism and the domino effect, having 'lost' china to communism, and observing the U.S.S.R as a monolithic threat, the U.S believed they could not afford to allow another area in the region to turn communist. It seems then that the intervention was ideologically motivated. However, interest in the region was not only due to the desire to protect 'freedom', it was also an economically important region. Japan has been described as the 'corner stone' of American involvement in South East Asia and thus it was important to protect it. The Vietnam War was based on assumptions by the U.S.A. The initial and most cited

  • Word count: 1031

"Italy Unified Itself". To what extent is this statement true?

"Italy Unified Itself". To what extent is this statement true?

Bianca Nardi History HL - Mr Nash "Italy Unified Itself". To what extent is this statement true? The end of Napoleonic Italy and the Risorgimento movements demonstrated that the dream of Italian Unity could be a reality. The unification can be seen as the inevitable end to any means which the Italian states could have undertaken politically. Victor Emmanuel's predecessor, Charles Albert, claimed in 1849 that "Italia farà da sò" (Italy will do itself)). To what extent was his prediction accurate? The Risorgimento movements in the Nineteenth Century are characterized by being a national revival which led to the creation of the Italian Kingdom. Revolutionary outbursts against the absolutist rule of restored monarchs were undertaken by different revolutionary groups who had little common aims and lacked organization. Thus, the sole means by which the Italian people could share their ideas was through the secret societies. Of these, the one which stood out was the Carbonari, who had their base in Naples. The secret societies had unclear aims and hadn't the competence to work towards and united Italy. The revolutionaries' main flaw was that they consisted almost entirely of the educated middle class and did not gain popular support which would have been crucial for their success. However, they

  • Word count: 1445

Other great essays

The Weakness of the Directory was the main reasons for Napoleons rise to Power. How far do you agree?

The Weakness of the Directory was the main reasons for Napoleons rise to Po...

How liberal were Gladstone's domestic reforms during his first ministry?

How liberal were Gladstone's domestic reforms during his first ministry?

To what extent is the oil crisis of 1973 a turning point in postwar economic development?

To what extent is the oil crisis of 1973 a turning point in postwar economi...

"Asses the successes and failures of Mao's domestic policies between 1949 and 1976."

"Asses the successes and failures of Mao's domestic policies between 1949 a...

Assess the role of the nobility in providing political stability in Tudor England

Assess the role of the nobility in providing political stability in Tudor E...

How significant was Chinas intervention in deciding the course and outcome of the Korean War?

How significant was Chinas intervention in deciding the course and outcome...

Using these four passages and your own knowledge, assess the view that Napoleons Empire in Europe after 1804 offered little benefit to its subjects.

Using these four passages and your own knowledge, assess the view that Napo...

Did Oliver Cromwell achieve his objectives from 1642 to 1658?

Did Oliver Cromwell achieve his objectives from 1642 to 1658?

Extended Essay: Bismarck and The Unification of Germany

Extended Essay: Bismarck and The Unification of Germany

How far was the Boer War, 1899-1902, a turning point in the history of the British Empire

How far was the Boer War, 1899-1902, a turning point in the history of the...

Explain how Ferdinand and Isabella dealt with the problems facing them before 1479.

Explain how Ferdinand and Isabella dealt with the problems facing them befo...

To what extent was the alliance system responsible for the outbreak of World War One in 1914

To what extent was the alliance system responsible for the outbreak of Worl...

Assess the successes and failures of Mussolini's domestic policy.

Assess the successes and failures of Mussolini's domestic policy.

Labour weakness was the most important reason for Conservative dominance from 1951 to 1964. How far do you agree?

Labour weakness was the most important reason for Conservative dominance fr...

Why did the Liberals lose the 1874 election?

Why did the Liberals lose the 1874 election?

  • British History: Monarchy & Politics 1394
  • History of the USA, 1840-1968 441
  • International History, 1945-1991 2511
  • Modern European History, 1789-1945 1800
  • Other Historical Periods 323
  • Fewer than 1000 2073
  • 1000-1999 2950
  • 2000-2999 938

Teacher Reviews

  • 1 review 102
  • 1 or more reviews 102

Peer Reviews

  • 1 review 30
  • 1 or more reviews 30

COMMENTS

  1. A Level History Essay Structure

    Here you can see the most simplified essay structure for tackling A level History essays. All students should be familiar with this structure. We have broken the essay down into an introduction and conclusion as well as 3 separate parts of content. Running through the entire essay at the side is our line of argument.

  2. How to structure AQA A-level History Essays

    Block Essays. For AQA you use these for the extract questions; the two sources for AS and the three sources for A level. You write the essay in blocks of text which are focused on one area. For the source questions you don't need to get too clever with hopping back and forth between sources and points. Decide and plan what you need to say and ...

  3. A Level History Essays: Understanding the Questions and ...

    This video goes through how to do A Level History essays. I start by looking at types of question (cause, consequence, change, continuity, similarity, differ...

  4. 7 key tips for A* History A Level essays

    A video giving tips on A* essay writing technique for A Level History - specifically for Edexcel A Level History Papers 1, 2 and 3 but useful for all History...

  5. How to write source-based history essays

    If you understand how each part works and fits into the overall essay, you are well on the way to creating a great assessment piece. Most essays will require you to write: 1 Introduction Paragraph. 3 Body Paragraphs. 1 Concluding Paragraph.

  6. How to write A Level History essays

    Find resources for A Level History: https://www.historyrevisionsuccess.co.uk/category/all-productsTo enquire about private tuition and resources go to: https...

  7. Revision Tips to Achieve A* in A Level History

    The A-Level History exam typically comprises multiple components. Understand the weight each section carries to prioritise your focus. Assessment Components: Source Analysis: This section assesses your ability to critically evaluate historical sources. Practice interpreting documents, maps, and visuals. Essay Writing: Essays demand in-depth ...

  8. How do I structure a History Essay?

    Make sure you create argument and discussion - persuade the examiner that you are correct. Now as to how to structure the paragraph itself: The first line of the paragraph should be a signpost sentence - it should summarise your argument for that paragraph. This gives the examiner a clear idea of what is coming in the next 300-400 words.

  9. Cambridge International AS & A Level History (9489)

    Cambridge International AS Level History (Cambridge University Press) Increased depth of coverage and closely mapped to the new Cambridge syllabus, this series provides a wide range of source material and language support. Builds confidence in the skills of language, essay writing and evaluation. Read more on the Cambridge University Press website

  10. AQA

    4. Showing 619 results. Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 1E Russia in the Age of Absolutism and Englightenment, 1682-1796 - Sample set 1 New. Published 14 Mar 2024 | PDF | 1.4 MB. Answers and commentary (A-level): Component 2D Religious conflict and the Church in England, c1529-1570 - Sample set 1.

  11. A-Level History: A Complete Guide

    An A-Level History essay typically consists of an introduction, several body paragraphs, and a conclusion. The number of body paragraphs depends on the essay's length and complexity but usually ranges from three to six. Each paragraph should focus on a single main idea or argument, supported by evidence and analysis.

  12. How to write an introduction for a history essay

    1. Background sentences. The first two or three sentences of your introduction should provide a general introduction to the historical topic which your essay is about. This is done so that when you state your hypothesis, your reader understands the specific point you are arguing about. Background sentences explain the important historical ...

  13. Essay Writing / Historical Association

    History is not just about writing lots of essays! It is also about discussion, debate and evidence. However, there will be, as with many other subjects at A-Level, some essays to write - but it is not as tough as it looks. Essay writing is a skill that you will get better at over time, but you might find the guide below useful to help you along.

  14. A Level History essay masterclass part one

    In this video, I discuss in detail the purpose of introductions in A Level History essays and give some examples of how to effectively write introductions at...

  15. AQA A Level History Past Papers

    AS History (7041/2G) - The Birth of the USA, 1760-1801 - Component 2G The origins the American Revolution, 1760-1776. Q A. AQA. June 2017 AQA A-Level History Past Papers (7041 and 7042) AS History (7041/2H) - France in Revolution, 1774-1815 - Component 2H The end of Absolutism and the French Revolution, 1774-1795. Q A.

  16. A Level History Past Papers & Questions by Topic

    A Level History. Our extensive collection of resources is the perfect tool for students aiming to ace their exams and for teachers seeking reliable resources to support their students' learning journey. Here, you'll find an array of revision notes, topic questions, fully explained model answers, past exam papers and more, meticulously organized ...

  17. History A-Level

    ALL Tudor Revision Notes. Class notes 100% (1) 46. AQA A Level Tudors Guide Elizabeth I. Class notes None. 36. Tudors Exam Questions 2023 Cohort. Practice materials 100% (7) 3.

  18. Edexcel A Level History Past Papers

    A Level Paper 2: Depth Study. Option 2A.1: Anglo-Saxon England and the Anglo-Norman Kingdom, c1053-1106. Option 2A.2: England and the Angevin Empire in the reign of Henry II, 1154-89. Mark Scheme. Option 2B.1: Luther and the German Reformation, c1515-55. Option 2B.2: The Dutch Revolt, c1563-1609. Mark Scheme.

  19. Top Tips to write an A* History Essay at A Level

    Find resources for A Level History: https://www.historyrevisionsuccess.co.uk/category/all-productsEaster Lecture Series on AQA Advanced Information: find out...

  20. A level AQA History essay structure

    With the A-Level History essays you either have a thematic or factor essay question. A thematic essay question would be something like "Henry VII successfully consolidated his power" assess the validity of this view. It's a yes or no question and so you should explore it in 3 big ideas/themes like propaganda, nobility, and Yorkist rivals.

  21. A-Level History

    The Succession of Lenin - Stalin or Trotsky 24th January 2004 "Explain why it was Stalin rather than Trotsky who succeeded Lenin as ruler of the USSR" After Lenin's death in 1924, there was a struggle between the leading Bolsheviks to succeed Lenin as leader of the USSR. In the end, it emerged as a contest between Leon Trotsky and Joseph Stalin ...