GCSE History: How should I answer?
Getting Inside the Examiners Head!
If you're taking a course in GCSE History then you'll know just how hard it is to understand exactly what the examiner or teacher is asking you to do.
But hopefully this guide will explain what the questions themselves actually mean, and will help you answer them more thoroughly, and achieve the grade you deserve!
What were the causes of...?/ In what ways were the...?
Okay, so this is the easiest of the bunch. A simple 4 mark question. All the examiner wants is facts. No opinions, no inferences nothing. Just four simple, relevant facts for the A grade... or three for the B... two for C...etc.
How did.../ Why...
This type of question is also rather simple. Just give two or three reasons with some clear and factual evidence. Don't write an essay for an explanation question, they're normally worth only six marks, this means NO CONCLUSION.
Why/What - Source Questions
What is the message...?
You will get source questions. So prepare yourself and follow this simple guide when presented with the question What is the message of this source?
Ok, so all the examiner really wants is to know if you know about one-sidedness (biased) and whether or not you can see if a source was made for a particular reason. For the answer, simply give BOTH sides of the argument, prove your own knowledge with dates and trivia and come to a clear conclusion.
Remember, a conclusion is your OWN opinion.
How - Source Questions
How far.../ How important...?
Here, the examineer wants you to write a non-biased answer and come to a conclusion. In this question, there is often hidden information, paticularly where the ones-sidedness occurs. So watch out, this is one of the most trickiest questions of the bunch!
Why - Source Questions
Why do these sources disagree...?
The examiner wants to know that you know the facts. You need to know why they differ, not necessarily how. As always, incorporate your own knowledge into the question to receive all the marks up for grabs!
What - Source Questions
What can this source tell us...?
In this question the examiner wants you to write a lot about a little! Just look at the source and try to figure out what the hidden meanings are. Be wary of one-sidedness and as always - include your own knowledge!
Do you agree with this statement...?
Nothing to do with sources! Yay!
Okay, so this is it! This type of question is often your final 12 mark question, and if you haven't got a cramp in your arm by now, you're doing it wrong!
Ironically, this one of the simplest questions. You just need to be careful.
Ensure your answers cover both sides of the argument and that you refer to some of the sources. A good A* answer will include your own knowledge as well.
How far does Source... Agree with Source...
Alright... alright... one more source question...
This question is probably the most complicated in the entire exam. How far does one source prove another source is wrong. You will always be asked to prove another source wrong, not right. For this question, include your own knowledge and evaluate both the sources considering the author of the source - could it be one-sided.
Things that apply to all the questions:
- Purpose - Why was the source written? Propaganda?
- Author - Was the author under pressure? Being forced?
- Content - What is actually in the source? Don't overlook it!
- Time yourself - Work out how many minutes to spend on each question.
- Knowledge - ALWAYS use your own knowledge!
- If all else fails - fill the page with as much as you can. You don't lose marks for wrong answers, so get as much down as you can.
It's no good being told to include your own knowledge if you don't have any. That's why i recommend some serious revision material. In my personal experience CGP make some excellent books and I highly recommend them.
I also recommend you visit John D Clare.net for some excellent knowledge from an actual history teacher. It's a brilliant site that helped me a lot!
Always check you're buying revision books for the right exam board (AQA, OCR, EDEXCEL) otherwise you might be learning the wrong information!
This lense has become quite popular so I thought I'd answer any GCSE History questions you might have. Ask away!