Writing Higher History Essays

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Writing Higher History Essays
Writing essays is a major part of your Higher History course.
The assessments for Unit I (Britain) and Unit II (Germany) are all essays.
 Your NAB assessments for Units I and II are essays that you have I hour to
write. You have to pass these assessments, but they do not make up part of your
final mark.
 Your exam assessment for Units I and II is Paper I. In this paper you have 1 hour
and 20 minutes to write two essays – so that’s 40 minutes per essay. (around
800-1000 words) This will be 40% of your overall mark.
 In addition, you will be writing an Extended Essay, on a topic of your choice, in
2 hours in exam conditions. (around 2,000 words) This will be 30% of your
overall mark.
The basic rules for writing these essays are the same, regardless of how much time you
have.
 All essays should have an introduction, several paragraphs and a conclusion.
 All introductions should SEAF:
S – Start Date – explain significance.
E – End Date – Explain significance
A –Argument - outline
F – Factors to be developed
 An essay is NOT a story. It is an argument. You should use the facts to
support your argument.
 For all essays you should begin with a plan.
 Your conclusion should answer the question in a non-superficial way.
 You should not write in the first-person (i.e. don’t say ‘I’)
 You should try to show awareness of historiography (historical writing) and
historical debate in your answers.
 Most essay titles will suggest one reason for something – e.g. ‘How important
was the Great depression to the rise of the Nazis?’ or ‘How important was the
First World War to the enfranchisement of women?’ This is what we call an
isolated factor question. You are expected to discuss the factor in the question
and all the other relevant factors.
 In isolated factor questions you should write about the factor in the question
first.
Essays are marked out of 20.
14+ = A
12 – 13 = B
10 – 11 = C
9 or fewer = Fail
KNOWLEDGE –Up to 6 marks can be awarded
These are for substantive points and points further developed which are
relevant and accurate.
STRUCTURE – Up to 4 marks can be awarded
0 marks
There is no identifiable attempt to establish context or relevant factor.
The development is unstructured or random.
There is no attempt to provide an answer in the terms of the question.
1 mark
There is some attempt to establish context or relevant factors.
There is an attempt to develop an answer, though there may be some
significant omissions.
The conclusion may be implicit.
2 marks
The introduction establishes the context and indicates relevant factors.
There is an identifiable development of the answer.
The conclusion is a summary linked to the question.
3 marks
The introduction establishes the context, indicates relevant factors and
outlines a line of argument.
There is a coherent development directly related to the question.
The conclusion is clearly based on the evidence presented, and is directly
linked to the question.
4 marks
The introduction clearly sets the issue in its wider context, indicates
relevant factors and demonstrates a solid line of argument.
There is a coherent development directly focused on the question.
The conclusion is balanced, summarising the arguments and coming to an
overall judgement directly related to the question.
ARGUMENT – Up to 10 marks can be awarded:
0-1 marks
The style is narrative and descriptive
There is little or no clear attempt to answer the question.
2-3 marks
The style is mainly narrative and descriptive.
There are some brief attempts to answer the question.
4-5 marks
The style demonstrates some analysis, though there may still be some
narrative.
There is use of evidence to answer the question.
6-7 marks
The style is analytical, with the evidence used to develop and support a
line of argument.
The line of argument is focused directly on the question.
8-10 marks
The evidence is integrated into a sustained analysis.
The argument is sustained and balanced, with some awareness of
alternative interpretations and/or historical debate