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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Is Tess in ‘Tess of the d'Urbervilles' portrayed as being responsible for her own demise? [pdf 40 KB]
Yours is a beautifully clear essay. You write very well, and your prose is delightful to read. You've also done your research and it shows. There is a remarkable lack of vagary about society or feminism in your piece, and you've picked canny quotes from your secondary sources that elucidate and situate your arguments.
You've also located some wonderfully specific quotations from your primary source to support your argument that Hardy's narrator sympathises with Tess. Some of your close readings are wonderfully astute, as when you point out that Tess implores Angel, rather than commanding him. Slightly less persuasive is your assertion that Tess is the victim of Alec's eyes; I suspect you might have found better quotations, descriptions, or incidents denouncing Alec's gaze.
You are clearly very good at pursuing and proving an argument. I encourage you to be a bit more experimental in your next essay; perhaps choose a less straightforward topic and see where it takes you.
Please see penciled notes throughout on shortening sentences and watching for comma splices (please look this term up in a style manual if it is unfamiliar).