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Gcse History Essay Introduction

There are two principle elements that a 'To what extent...' essay question should include.

The first is detailed source evidence and extra material, to support your argument. Let's use an example essay question here to demonstrate. In a history exam, the essay might ask: “To what extent was the character of Charles II responsible for his problems with parliament?".

The student is being asked to do two things here: to show an in-depth knowledge of Charles II's character, and to analyse which specific aspects of his character may have affected his political relationships.

Incorporating detailed evidence will always demonstrate how much you know of the subject matter, and will help to support the angle and strength of your argument.

The second element is linking to wider issues, topics or arguments that support your point of view. For example, in this particular history essay, a student could refer to other historical events that were responsible for problems between Charles II and parliament, but which were not related to his character.

Drawing on other factors in this way helps to increase the significance of your argument, and will round out your essay fully.

These two elements of analysis – including detailed evidence and linking to wider ideas – can be used to answer any 'To what extent...' question. In other words, when answering this type of essay question, keep the general structure the same and change the the appropriate information in the right places.

Remember also to analyse your evidence as you weave your argument. Do this by answering questions like, 'how significant is your evidence in supporting your argument?' and, 'what are the potential weaknesses that this evidence carries?'.

Introduction to 20 mark essay writing

Essay writing in Higher History is very important. Overall, 70% of your grade will be ascertained from the essays you write, 30% from your extended essay and 40% from your 2 essays in Paper 1 of the final examination.

As you have advanced through the school in Standard Grade and Intermediate 2 you will have learned how to write short essays worth 8 marks. You will remember how daunting these essays seemed to be when you first started writing them. You will also remember how writing these essays became easier with practice.

Essay writing is a skill, something that has to be learned. You had to learn how to introduce your essay, develop the points and then conclude your argument when writing 8 mark answers.

Essay writing at higher takes you a stage further in your development as rational, discursive and deliberating beings and again you will have to learn how to write Higher Essays skilfully.

However, some words of warning! Your development of these “higher” skills will not come naturally, neither will they come from listening attentively to your teacher or copying your friends essays (it does happen and these people are invariably caught). Your development of these essay writing skills will be down to hard work, reading and practice. Simple.

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