How to get an A/A* A-Level History
Updated: Sep 14
History as an A-Level gives you the chance to explore and gain deeper understanding of the past through political, social, economic and cultural perspectives. Learning about what came before us is fascinating but also requires the skills of perceptiveness and critical analysis in order to interpret what you are learning correctly, after all it's not like you can go back in time and ask questions!
Have a look at the tips below given to you by a really good friend to help you towards success!
1) Go over practice questions. The more questions you plan answers to, the better, as you'll soon cover all the kay parts of the course that the examiners are likely to ask you questions on. Get your teachers to look at your answers and give you feedback so you can improve you future responses. When you are given feedback, don't just leave it at that, re write parts of your essay and incorporate some of the ideas that you have learned, in order to make sure you really understand your areas of improvement.
2) When answering source questions, make sure to use specific phrases and quotes from the texts to show the examiner you have a good understanding of what each historian or source is trying to convey. Make sure to highlight at least 3 separate points you want to cover in your paragraph on each source or extract and link your contextual knowledge with the context of the text.
3) Only stick to the relevant information or facts in your answers to avoid waffling or straying from the point of the question! Include key dates and try to remember a few statistics as they appear throughout your study of each topic. Theres no need to remember every detail but having key facts demonstrates your understanding of the historical context and provides to with the evidence to support your points. It is important that you don't write anything that cannot be substantiated in your history essays as you will not pick up any marks. The examiners mark in a way that suggest they know nothing about what you are telling them about, explain everything thoroughly without waffling!
4) PLAN ALL YOUR ANSWERS. This cannot be stressed enough and its so tempting to go straight into answering a question when you see it in your exam. If you wont listen to a teacher say it at least listen to a student who has been through the exams. Taking 10 mins to write a semi-detailed plan gives you a frame of reference whenever you feel like you are losing track of the point you are trying to make when writing a response. It also means that when an examiner opens your paper and sees your plan, it gives them a positive impression of you from the get go as well as SPAG marks for a well structured answer. The clearer and more concise your answer, the better.
5) Finally, it's very beneficial to participate in class discussions or debates during lesson. Even taking notes of the perspectives of the people in your class or different approaches to exam questions can show a varied and balanced argument. Taking note of opposing arguments that people offer can help you compose counter arguments in your answer to show a more sophisticated response. To avoid confusion for the examiner always make sure to come to the same conclusion as stated in your thesis (intro) and show how other lines of argument on not as full proof as your own.
These tips are not here to guarantee you an A/A* in your exams but to help you structure your revision and just general A-level studies from the get go to help you work towards achieving those higher grades!
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