GCSE History Essay Techniques


    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

    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 us.



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