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Writing Gcse History Essay

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. 

 
  1. I really liked GCSE History and because I got an A* in it, I took it for AS Level. However, I haven't really been adjusting well to the essay writing. I don't entirely understand how to structure the essay in terms of what actually goes into each paragraph. I understand that you need to develop analytical responses whilst having explicit understanding with relevant evidence but it's really difficult to put this all into a paragraph. Also, I get really distracted and it normally takes me ages to write a history essay whereas everyone else completes it within 1 hour.

    Ah, I'm doing Edexcel AS History and the units are: Scramble for Africa and Britain and the American Colonies 1740-1769. Can anyone help me with the content in this as well?

    I know it's a lot to ask but thank you!

  2. I am also with Edexcel for A2 - however I'm doing Medieval History. I may be able to help on a few things.
    Firstly, the most important difference between GCSE and A Level History is that you are negatively marked for any irrelevant information - therefore try to make sure that your essay is tightly argued and is focused.
    Moreover, at the beginning of AS , I fell into the trap of trying to include everything related to the topic and many examples, this was a major pitfall- try and avoid this. Rather, you are better of including a few relevant examples and focusing on your analysis.
    A good structure to use is Point, Evidence, Explain and LINK. Linking your arguments will get you the higher grades.
    Finally make sure you always refer back to the question so you keep your essay cogent.
    With regards to timing issues, at this point of the year don't worry too much about spending more time. I too was like this. But, I promise with practice, it will become second nature! Perhaps you can slowly start setting yourself time limits when completing essays at home, and eventually build up to the time required for your exams.
    I hope this all helps ! And like I said, at this time of the year don't worry too much (assuming you don't have any January exams!!)

  3. Building up both sides of an argument then demolishing them through further points is pretty key to scoring top marks, my Hist teacher said.