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History Gcse Essay Writing

GCSE history essays follow a general fromula so once you get the hand of it you should be able to write any essay.

A short and precise introduction is necessary, the introduction should include both sides of the arguement and then your judgement (basically which side you are going to argue for). 

Next you have the main body of your essay, there is no correct amount of paragraphs you should write, as it will depend on how it many it takes to get your argument across (or how quick you can write). However, for a GCSE essay I would suggest doing 6 paragraphs 3 for the argument and 3 against the argument. 

When structuring a paragraph I would use PEAL, this stands for: point; explain; analyse and then link to question. This means that you should hit the marking criteria. The last one 'link' is very important and is often forgotten. It is particualrly important as it means you are still thinking and focusing on the question and not going off topic - this also shows a good structure if you are reiterating why that particular point is important at the end of the paragraph (examiners love it!). 

You should be careful not to tell the story, but instead to analyse the events, as this will get you the higher ,marks, as it shows the examiner that you understand the content and have your own judgement of it.

Once you have weighed up the argument, you need a precise conclusion to end the essay. It is important that this should not just be a repetition of what you have written in the body of the essay. Instead it should be clear which side of the argument you believe is better and why the evidence shows this. Furthermore, no new evidence or points should be brought in.

Clearly, everyone's style of essay writing will be different, but sometimes sticking to a formula is easier until you have figured out the way you like to write an essay. 

GCSE History essays are difficult. For many students taking GCSE History, how to structure your GCSE History essays and source responses are often the most challenging parts of the course. Learning core facts and remembering key dates for the GCSE History course are relatively straightforward. Analysing and evaluating the importance of various factors, reasons and causes are a lot more difficult and these skills take time to develop.

Below are some templates of how to structure your GCSE History essays and source based questions (N.B. the suggested timings may vary between exam boards, but the structure will remain the same).

What can you learn from source X about…..?

You need to make two inferences, explained and supported with quotes if a written source or select details if it is a picture. Spend about 6 minutes on this 4 mark question

Describe how…..This is a describe / key features question

You need to make at least two statements that are well supported by own knowledge and presented in separate paragraphs. Say “Firstly….” then “Secondly…” Spend about 8 minutes on this 6 mark question

“Explain the effects of…” This is a consequence question

You need to clearly explain two or more consequences that are set out in separate paragraphs and are supported by well selected and relevant own knowledge. Show links between the consequences for full marks and assess the extent of change. How much of an impact did it have? Spend about 12 minutes on this 8 mark question

“How did X change between….” This is a change or development question.

You need to explain two or more changes that developed something or affected something, showing how one led to the other for full marks. You need to support your answer by bringing in your own knowledge and that you put each change in a separate paragraph. It is crucial that in your answer you refer to what the situation was like before to make it clear to the examiner that you understand what changed. Spend about 12 minutes on this 8 mark question

Look out for our next blog post on how to structure the 30 mark “mini essay” question

For further details about GCSE preparation, GCSE History essays, GCSE mock exams, GCSE Revision Booster courses or private tuition bespoke to your requirements, please contact [email protected]

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