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Pass History Exams Blog

This blog is dedicated to you – the history student. My aim is to help as many of you as possible achieve your highest grades, whilst studying history. The regular blog posts, alongside additional resources, aim to make your life as a history student easier and more enjoyable, whilst at the same time ensuring that you are fully prepared for all your exams.

Don’t know where to start? – check out the links to our further resources below and don’t forget to grab your free essay checklist:

Pass History Exams – A Level History Resources

Want to look at some of our most useful blog posts? – check out the links below for definitive articles on key issues:

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General

A Level History Questions – A Do and Avoid Guide to Effective Answers


How To Answer Questions Effectively

A Level History Questions Tick

A Level History Questions – What to Do

  1. Do ensure that you are clear and concise with your points. Therefore, you need to eliminate unnecessary waffle from your writing. Try to explain things in a way that is easy to understand and gets straight to the point you are making. Furthermore, select the evidence that is most relevant to your point and answering the question that has been asked.
  2. Do back your points up with facts and figures wherever possible. Avoid generalisation and inadequately supported points. Instead, support your points with relevant evidence because this is the difference between C grade answers and A/B grade answers. Substantiated judgement will take you to the higher levels.
  3. Do use analytical language that makes judgement. Analysis and judgement is the key to answering questions well. By using analytical language that makes judgement like; ‘more importantly’, ‘less significantly’, your answer will show this.
A Level History Questions Cross

A Level History Questions – What to Avoid

  1. Avoid long passages of narrative. Narrative is simple description of events that have happened. A limited amount can be useful to introduce points and/or set the scene. However, most of your writing should concentrate on analysis, rather than narrative.
  2. Avoid terms like: firstly, secondly, finally. This is because these terms tend to make an answer read too much like a list. This hampers the flow of your answer and makes it less readable.
  3. Avoid using ambiguous terminology. Ambiguous terminology like, for example; ‘arguably’, signals that you are not clear and undecided. Use of the word ‘arguably’ does not make a judgement. Instead, make judgement on the issues and back your views with evidence.

How To Improve Further at A Level History

Pass History Exams offer a Free A Level History Essay Guide that provides a framework to answer any A Level History Essay Question. This is available at:

passhistoryexams.co.uk/free-essay-guide

Pass A level History is a complete online tuition course that contains video lessons, interactive quizzes and assessment materials. The content will show you step by step how to answer any A Level History question that could be part of your assessment. See the full list of lessons, from the course curriculum, by visiting our home page and scrolling down at:

www.passalevelhistory.co.uk

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General

A Level History Topics

The following list of A Level History topics will help you to understand exactly which topics you are studying and how your course is broken down in terms of assessment. This post covers all the three main exam boards of AQA, Edexcel and OCR.

No matter which exam board and modules you are studying in order to get your best result at A Level History you will need to learn and improve certain techniques.

Pass History Exams offer a Free A Level History Essay Guide that provides a framework to answer any A Level History Essay Question. This is available at:

passhistoryexams.co.uk/free-essay-guide

Pass A level History is a complete online tuition course that contains video lessons, interactive quizzes and assessment materials. The content will show you step by step how to answer any A Level History question that could be part of your assessment. See the full list of lessons, from the course curriculum, by visiting our home page and scrolling down at:

www.passalevelhistory.co.uk

AQA Assessment Breakdown

Historical Investigation (Coursework) – 20% of final grade

Breadth Study (Exam) – 40% of final grade

Depth Study (Exam) – 40% of final grade

AQA A Level History Topics

Component 1: Breadth study

1A The Age of the Crusades, c1071–1204

1B Spain in the Age of Discovery, 1469–1598

1C The Tudors: England, 1485–1603

1D Stuart Britain and the Crisis of Monarchy, 1603–1702

1E Russia in the Age of Absolutism and Enlightenment, 1682–1796

1F Industrialisation and the people: Britain, c1783–1885

1G Challenge and transformation: Britain, c1851–1964

1H Tsarist and Communist Russia, 1855–1964

1J The British Empire, c1857–1967

1K The making of a Superpower: USA, 1865–1975

1L The quest for political stability: Germany, 1871–1991

Component 2: Depth study

2A Royal Authority and the Angevin Kings, 1154–1216

2B The Wars of the Roses, 1450–1499

2C The Reformation in Europe, c1500–1564

2D Religious conflict and the Church in England, c1529–c1570

2E The English Revolution, 1625–1660

2F The Sun King: Louis XIV, France and Europe, 1643–1715

2G The Birth of the USA, 1760–1801

2H France in Revolution, 1774–1815

2J America: A Nation Divided, c1845–1877

2K International Relations and Global Conflict, c1890–1941

2L Italy and Fascism, c1900–1945

2M Wars and Welfare: Britain in Transition, 1906–1957


A Level History Topics - Edexcel

Edexcel Assessment Breakdown

Research Enquiry (Coursework) – 20% of grade

Breadth Study with Interpretations (Exam) – 30% of grade

Depth Study (Exam) – 20% of grade

Themes in Breadth + Aspects in Depth (Exam) 30% of grade

Ed Excel A Level History Topics

Breadth study with interpretations

1A: The crusades, c1095–1204

1B: England, 1509–1603: authority, nation and religion

1C: Britain, 1625–1701: conflict, revolution and settlement

1D: Britain, c1785–c1870: democracy, protest and reform

1E: Russia, 1917–91: from Lenin to Yeltsin

1F: In search of the American Dream: the USA, c1917–96

1G: Germany and West Germany, 1918–89

1H: Britain transformed, 1918–97

Depth study

2A.1: Anglo-Saxon England and the Anglo-Norman Kingdom, c1053–1106

2A.2: England and the Angevin Empire in the reign of Henry II, 1154–89

2B.1: Luther and the German Reformation, c1515–55

2B.2: The Dutch Revolt, c1563–1609

2C.1: France in revolution, 1774–99

2C.2: Russia in revolution, 1894–1924

2D.1: The unification of Italy, c1830–70

2D.2: The unification of Germany, c1840–71

2E.1: Mao’s China, 1949–76

2E.2: The German Democratic Republic, 1949–90

2F.1: India, c1914–48: the road to independence

2F.2: South Africa, 1948–94: from apartheid state to ‘rainbow nation’

2G.1: The rise and fall of fascism in Italy, c1911–46

2G.2: Spain, 1930–78: republicanism, Francoism and the re-establishment of democracy

2H.1: The USA, c1920–55: boom, bust and recovery

Themes in breadth with aspects in depth

30: Lancastrians, Yorkists and Henry VII, 1399–1509

31: Rebellion and disorder under the Tudors, 1485–1603

32: The Golden Age of Spain, 1474–1598

33: The witch craze in Britain, Europe and North America, c1580–c1750

34.1: Industrialisation and social change in Britain, 1759–1928: forging a new society

34.2: Poverty, public health and the state in Britain, c1780–1939

35.1: Britain: losing and gaining an empire, 1763–1914

35.2: The British experience of warfare, c1790–1918

36.1: Protest, agitation and parliamentary reform in Britain, c1780–1928

36.2: Ireland and the Union, c1774–1923

37.1: The changing nature of warfare, 1859–1991: perception and reality

37.2: Germany, 1871–1990: united, divided and reunited

38.1: The making of modern Russia, 1855–1991

38.2: The making of modern China, 1860–1997

39.1: Civil rights and race relations in the USA, 1850–2009

39.2: Mass media and social change in Britain, 1882–2004


A Level History Topics - OCR

OCR Assessment Breakdown

Topic Based Essay (Coursework) – 20% of grade

British Period Study and Enquiry (Exam) – 25% of grade

Non-British Period Study (Exam) – 15% of grade

Thematic Study and Interpretations (Exam) – 40% of grade

OCR A Level History Topics

British Period Study and Enquiry

Alfred and the making of England 871—1016

Anglo-Saxon England and the Norman Conquest 1035—1107

England 1199—1272

England 1377—1455

England 1445—1509: Lancastrians, Yorkists and Henry VII

England 1485—1558: the early Tudors

England 1547—1603: the late Tudors

The early Stuarts and the origins of the Civil War 1603—1660

The making of Georgian Britain 1678 — c. 1760

From Pitt to Peel: Britain 1783—1853

Liberals, Conservatives and the rise of Labour 1846—1918

Britain 1900—1951

Britain 1930—1997

Non-British Period Study

The rise of Islam c. 550 — 750

Charlemagne 768—814

The Crusades and the crusader states 1095—1192

Genghis Khan and the explosion from the Steppes c. 1167 — 1405

Exploration, Encounters and Empire 1445—1570

Spain 1469—1556

The German Reformation and the rule of Charles V 1500—1559

Philip II 1556—1598

African kingdoms c. 1400 — c. 1800: four case studies

Russia 1645—1741

The rise and decline of the Mughal Empire in India 1526—1739

The American Revolution 1740—1796

The French Revolution and the rule of Napoleon 1774—1815

France 1814—1870

Italy and unification 1789—1896

The USA in the 19th Century: Westward expansion and Civil War 1803 — c. 1890

Japan 1853—1937

International relations 1890—1941

Russia 1894—1941

Italy 1896—1943

Democracy and dictatorships in Germany 1919—1963

The Cold War in Asia 1945—1993

The Cold War in Europe 1941—1995

Apartheid and reconciliation: South African politics 1948—1999

Thematic Study and Historical Interpretations

The early Anglo-Saxons c. 400 — 800

The Viking age c. 790 — 1066

English government and the Church 1066—1216

The Church and medieval heresy c. 1100 — 1437

The Renaissance c. 1400 — c. 1600

Rebellion and disorder under the Tudors 1485—1603

Tudor foreign policy 1485—1603

The Catholic Reformation 1492—1610

The ascendancy of the Ottoman Empire 1453—1606

The development of the nation state: France 1498—1610

The origins and growth of the British Empire 1558—1783

Popular culture and the witchcraze of the 16th and 17th centuries

The ascendancy of France 1610—1715

The challenge of German nationalism 1789—1919

The changing nature of warfare 1792—1945

Britain and Ireland 1791—1921

China and its rulers 1839—1989

Russia and its rulers 1855—1964

Civil Rights in the USA 1865—1992

From colonialism to independence: The British Empire 1857—1965


How To Improve at A Level History

No matter which exam board and modules you are studying in order to get your best result at A Level History you will need to learn and improve certain techniques.

Pass History Exams offer a Free A Level History Essay Guide that provides a framework to answer any A Level History Essay Question. This is available at:

passhistoryexams.co.uk/free-essay-guide

Pass A level History is a complete online tuition course that contains video lessons, interactive quizzes and assessment materials. The content will show you step by step how to answer any A Level History question that could be part of your assessment. See the full list of lessons, from the course curriculum, by visiting our home page and scrolling down at:

www.passalevelhistory.co.uk

Categories
General

Revise A Level History – Using Content and Technique To Revise History

When we revise A Level History for the purpose of performing better in exams or any assessments, then we have a choice of what exactly to revise. For most students, that choice is simply made from choosing different areas of content to revise – For example, somebody currently studying the Soviet Union under Stalin may elect to spend more time revising economic developments than the terror.

In this post I will argue that whilst revising content is obviously important, it is only half the story. By concentrating revision energy on content only, many students miss the other piece to the puzzle and fail to work on their question answering techniques enough. This will be especially crucial during 2021 with much content curtailed due to lack of learning time and a number of teacher/exam board based assessments likely to be used to grade students.

In this environment, the student that is a master of technique as well as content will achieve their best grades. Let’s now compare how we can use technique as well as content to revise for A Level History assessment.

– Using Content to Revise For A Level History –

Timeline of events leading up to World War II

All students should be familiar with using content to revise. As we can see above we have a standard piece of content that a student may use for revision. A timeline of events can be used by students to learn important dates and events within a period and also to gain an overview of the particular period of study.

Content for revision comes in numerous forms and will be accessible through text books, revision guides, class notes, online material and other resources.

Learning the content you need to know is critical to your performance in any exam or assessment. Without this knowledge, we simply cannot answer questions properly, as we do not have the correct information available to use in our answers.

However there is another crucial component to answering A Level History questions well.

– Using Technique to Revise For Assessment –

All A Level history exams or assessments require students to do certain standard tasks regardless of the specific area of history being studied.

  • Students will always have to answer questions that will require them to write essay answers.
  • Students will always have to answer questions based around sources or extracts.

Because A Level history assessment always works in this way, that gives us the opportunity to revise or ‘work on’ the techniques required to answer these question types properly.

When revising our technique for essay questions we can look at working on a number of different areas such as:

  • Interpreting and Understanding Questions
  • Planning Answers
  • Writing Introductions
  • Structuring Paragraphs or Themes
  • Writing Conclusions

Similarly when revising for source or extract questions we can also look at improving in different areas such as:

  • Planning Answers
  • Identifying and Extracting Information
  • Backing Extractions
  • Evaluating Sources or Extracts
  • Making Judgement on the value of Sources and Extracts

By understanding and practicing these different techniques we help to ensure that our A Level History assessment performance will improve, regardless of the specific content we are studying.

So how can we learn and improve our techniques for A Level History?

Pass History Exams offer a Free A Level History Essay Guide that provides a framework to answer any A Level History Essay Question. This is available at:

passhistoryexams.co.uk/free-essay-guide/

Pass A level History is a complete online tuition course that contains video lessons, interactive quizzes and assessment materials. The content will show you step by step how to answer any A Level History question that could be part of your assessment. See the full list of lessons, from the course curriculum, by visiting our home page and scrolling down at:

www.passalevelhistory.co.uk

Categories
Exam Technique

A Level History – Glossary for Revision (AQA,OCR, Edexcel)

The A Level History Glossary for Revision gives you definitions of key revision and exam terms related to studying A Level History. These are not topic specific, but are focused on general historical terms and methods that you need to understand. This will help you to properly revise and prepare for any A Level History examination or assessment. Where appropriate I have included an example to help your understanding.

This A Level History Glossary for Revision is a constant work in progress and regularly updated. Please do leave a comment if there is a specific term you don’t understand and/or would like added to the list.

A Level History - Glossary for Revision Image

glossary – an alphabetical list of words relating to a specific subject with explanations.

A Level History – Glossary for Revision

Analysis – is critically examining evidence in order to come to an understanding of an event/topic/question etc. This is a crucial skill to achieve higher grades.  
Assess – means to determine the significance or value and is used in conjunction with analysis. Example: ‘The Liberal governments of 1906-14 radically improved the lives of children and the elderly’ Assess the validity of this view.  
Bias – intentional use of language to present something in a one-sided way. Tends to be strongly in favour or strongly against what is being described. Specific word choices will indicate bias. Example: The Communist heroes of 1917 toppled the backward Tsarist regime. In this example the two italicised words would tend to indicate bias.  
Cause – this is the cause of an event, or a reason as to why it happened. Example: The immediate cause of the First World War was the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. Austria-Hungary then declared war on Serbia, which set in motion a complex set of events meaning many European nations declared war on each other, due to previously negotiated alliances and agreements.
Change – refers to something that is different from what occurred previously. This can happen over long periods of time or sometimes very dramatically in a short space of time.
Chronology – means the order in time in which events occurred. Is sometimes referred to as timeline. Example: 1st September 1939 – Germany invades Poland. 3rd September 1939 – Britain and France declare war on Germany.
Consequence/Effect – the changes that have occurred as a result of that event. Example: A short term consequence of Britain voting to leave the European Union was a dramatic 10% drop in the value of Sterling.
Contestability – the extent to which people hold different opinions/views.
Context – means the conditions that existed during a certain time and place when the event/issue was happening.
Continuity – this refers to something that has remained the same over time. Example: The social standing of women in Tsarist Russia had a remarkable continuity throughout the 19th century.
Description/Narrative – this means describing or narrating the events, often in chronological order. It is a sort of storytelling of what happened that simply describes what has happened but lacks analysis, evaluation or interpretation.    
Evaluation – means reaching an informed judgement based on evidence.
Evidence – is anything that can help us to understand the issue/source.
Interpretation – is the process by which we describe, analyse, and evaluate evidence to create an explanation on the past. Example: The historian’s interpretation was that the Roman Army was significantly overstretched leading to defeat at the battle of Cannae.
JEON Structure – This is a method of structuring paragraphs in an essay that some people find useful. J – Judgement – First you give your judgement about the point. E – Explanation – Use evidence to explain your judgement. O – On the other hand – Use evidence to critique your judgement. N – Nevertheless – Explain why your explanation judgement and evidence is more valuable than the critique part.
Perspective – the point of view from which someone views an event. Thus, different people/sources can describe the same event in different ways because it was seen from a different point of view. Perspective can exist independently of its poor relation bias.
Primary Sources – provide first-hand testimony or direct evidence concerning the event you are studying. These are documents, images or artifacts, that were created or experienced at the time of the event. However, if an individual writes about events they experienced first-hand many years after the event occurred, it is still considered a primary source. Example: an official parliamentary report of a speech by Harry Brodie, Liberal MP, during a House of Commons debate on the Women’s Enfranchisement Bill, February 1908.
Secondary Sources/Extracts – are works that analyse, assess or interpret an historical event. Secondary sources often offer a review or a critique. They include books, journal articles and reviews etc. Example: Robert Service, The Russian Revolution, 2nd edition 1991 – this book was written in 1991 many years after the 1917 revolution by somebody not present during 1917.
Significance – is a decision we make about what is important. Different people may view different things as more or less important. Example: I believe the most significant factor in Stalin’s rise to power was his control of party apparatus, whereas you insist that ideology ‘socialism in one country’ was of greater importance. Significance needs to be determined by analysis and backed with evidence.
Validity – means whether something is logically and/or factually sound. Example: ‘Outremer remained over-reliant on the Latin West for its survival in the years 1119 to 1149.’ Assess the validity of this view.

How To Improve Further at A Level History

Pass History Exams offer a Free A Level History Essay Guide that provides a framework to answer any A Level History Essay Question. This is available at:

passhistoryexams.co.uk/free-essay-guide

Pass A level History is a complete online tuition course that contains video lessons, interactive quizzes and assessment materials. The content will show you step by step how to answer any A Level History question that could be part of your assessment. See the full list of lessons, from the course curriculum, by visiting our home page and scrolling down at:

www.passalevelhistory.co.uk