How To Write a Good History Essay

The first thing we should do is be asking ourselves, what is an excellent history essay? Most likely, no two people will completely agree, if only because they believe that the quality of a piece is determined by the eyes – and speaks to the intellect – of the reader. The following article, therefore, is not philosophical, but instead offers practical guidance on how to create an essay that will score top marks.


In court, witnesses are required to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Students of all subjects in history should swear similar oaths: to answer to the question, in the entirety of the of the question. This is the most important rule. You could write beautifully and present your case with plenty of convincing evidence and yet if not relevant, you could be as if you were tinking on a cymbal. That’s why you have to think very attentively about the question you’re asked to answer. Be certain to avoid the grave error committed by weaker students that, in the end answered the question that examiners ought to have asked – but unfortunately didn’t. Consider your time, pay attention carefully at the words used in the question, and make certain that you’ve fully comprehended each of its terms.

If, for instance, there is a question about why Hitler took over power, you must define what this means of attaining power was made up of. Did any particular event occur that is the reason he was able to attain authority? If you immediately take notice of his appointment as Chancellor take your time and consider what actual powers this position was conferred to link history essay writer website Was the passage of the Enabling Act more important? And when did the rise to power actually begin? Do you have to talk about Hitler’s birth , childhood and the hyperinflation that occurred in the early 1920s? If you can identify what years are relevant and consequently which ones aren’t the you’ve made a very good start. In the next step, you’ll need to figure out the different factors that explain his rise.

When you’re required to provide an explanation of the success of a certain person, again avoid writing the first thing that pops to mind. Make a list of possible achievements. While doing this, you will automatically be presented with the issue of how to define’success’. What is it that it means? What is the definition of an individual’s goal? Is it objective (a subject of fact) as opposed to subjective (a personal opinion)? Are we required to take into account whether there are long-term or short-term gains? If an individual is fortunate enough to enjoy exceptional luck, is that still a success? That battling with the issue of definition can help identify a list that includes successes. You can then elaborate on how they came about, trace their roots as well as identifying how and when they happened. Is there a basis for the success? If so, it may form the main premise of your discussion.

The key word used in the preceding phrases can be described as consider. This should be distinguished from daydreaming, remembering and contemplating in silence. Thinking is never a pleasurable endeavor, so most of us strive to avoid it the majority of the time. However, there’s nothing you can do if you want to get the highest marks. Therefore, think as deeply as you can about the meaning and meaning of the questions, about the issues raised by it and the possible ways to tackle it. The key is to be a bit shrewd – then you must reconsider your thought process, trying to find weaknesses in your reasoning. In the end, you’ll probably be confused. It’s okay, confusion is typically a crucial step in getting clarity. When you’re overwhelmed Take a break. If you come back on the subject it is possible that the issue has been resolved. If not then, you can give yourself the time to think about it. You might find that nice ideas pop up into the mind of your subconscious at unplanned moments.

It is the Vital First Paragraph

Every single part of an essay is vital, but that first paragraph is particularly important. This is the very first chance you’ll get to impress or disappoint an examiner, and your first impressions can be decisive. Therefore, you should try to create a captivating first sentence. (‘Start with an earthquake , and then build to a high point, was the advice of the filmmaker Cecil B. De Mille.) Most important is that you demonstrate your understanding of questions. In this section, you provide your well deliberate definitions of the principal terms. In addition, you define the appropriate time frame and issues – in other words, your parameters of the question. You also divide the overall question into more feasible sub-divisions, or even smaller questions, for each subsequent write one sentence. You create an argument or possibly, you will use alternative points of view, which you’ll build upon later in your essay. Hence the first paragraph – or you may spread the beginning section over two paragraphs – is the primary to writing an effective essay.

After reading a great beginning paragraph, examiners will be reassured the writer is on the proper track. It is pertinent analytic and rigorous. They’ll likely sigh with relief knowing that there is one student at least who has avoided one of two common traps. First, it is to forget the question entirely. The second is writing an account of the events that occurred – usually starting with the creation of an individual with a half-hearted attempt at answering the question in the final paragraph.

Middle Paragraphs

Philip Larkin once said that the modern novel consists of two parts: a beginning mixand an end. This is, unfortunately often the case in the majority of history essays. However, if you’ve put together an effective opening section in which you’ve subdivided the entire question into distinct areas that are manageable your essay won’t be confused; it will be clear and coherent.

It should be clear, from your middle paragraphs what the topic you’re discussing. In reality, it’s a very good test of an essay that the reader is able to determine the topic even if the title is obscured. Thus, it is recommended to start every middle paragraph with a generalization relevant to the query. After that, you can expand on this idea , and then support it with evidence. You should present a balanced selection of evidence (i.e. facts and quotations) to support the argument you’re making. It is only a short amount of space or time, so think about the amount of detail you can provide. Minor background issues can be summarised with the broad brush, however your primary areas require greater detail. (Do not be one of those applicants who unintentionally „go on the offensive” with marginal areas while glossing over critical areas.)

The regulations typically state that during the A2 year, students should be well-versed in the principal interpretative theories of historians. You should not disregard this advice. On the other hand be careful not to take historiography to the extreme, so that the past itself is nearly ignored. Be careful not to fall into the assumption that all you require are an array of historians’ opinions. In many essays, students give a generalisation and back them up with the viewpoint of an historian . However, since they have formulated an opinion based on the generalisation this argument is circumscribed, meaningless and uninspiring. Also, it implores that historians are infallible and omniscient gods. If you do not present evidence in support of your beliefs – as historians do – generalisations are just an assertion. The middle paragraphs can be the ideal place for the real substance of an essay, and you ignore this at your peril.

Final Paragraph

If you’ve been debating your case within the body of your essay, make sure to drive home that case in the last paragraph. If you’ve been looking at several possibilities, now’s the time to say which one is right. In the middle, you are akin to a barrister in a courtroom. Then, in the last paragraph, you’re the judge summarizing and declaring the verdict.

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