• Key Essay Terms
    • Analyze → Ask ‘How and Why’
    • Compare, Contrast → Always do BOTH compare and contrast
    • Evaluate→ Make an opinion while weighing up the strengths and weaknesses
    • IB History Exams → Get information. Do something with information. Do something new and creative with the information.
    • S.E.X → Statement. Evidence. Explain
    • “To what extent…”, “How far do you agree…” → address the question; ‘to a large extent…’, ‘to a small extent…’
    • IB History Exams → Understand and address the demands of the question
  • How to write a history essay
    • What is the question asking → You must be clear on this so that you fully address the actual question and do not just write generally around of the topic. You’ll have to address this question throughout your essay and come back to it in your conclusion.
    • Introduction → Address the question clearly and indicate the direction that your argument will take. Define key term/concepts that are in the question, as your understanding of these words will determine the direction of your essay
    • Main Body → each paragraph should address a new point; make it clear what the topic of the paragraph is. Ensure each paragraph refers directly to the question; use the wording of the question if possible. Use detailed knowledge; support all general statements with specific examples. Link your paragraphs so that each one is part of a developing argument building up to your conclusion. Show your knowledge of current historiography.
    • Conclusion → your conclusion must come back to the question. Look back at the main thrust of your arguments and evidence in the essay and give a conclusion based on what you have said: this should be a direct answer to the question. Do not put no information in the conclusion.
Notes taken by Kevin:
  • Tips to write a good essay
    1, Don’t use pronouns. Ex: The Russian nobility and peasants want to make changes. They want… WHO ARE THEY? You should the term again. You should be clear and explicit. Don’t make the examiners guess.
    2, KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid). Don’t use big, fancy words if you don’t know how to use or spell.
    3, Don’t write in the first person.
    Tricks that you should do to persuade examiners:
    1, Introduction: clear thesis that strongly addresses the answer. Thesis means what you plan to prove.
    SEX: Statement Evidence Explanation
    2, Thesis is supposed to convenient.
    3, Don’t talk or use facts that are not related to or answer the question.
    4, Tie back to the question at the end of each paragraph.
    5, Don’t use narrative = vomiting facts. You have to give important and relevant facts but do something CREATIVE WITH it.
    7, You have to show that other sides of the story. You have to recognize other school of thoughts. Best argument is when you can count on anybody else.


Common mistakes
- Don’t use pronouns
  • Intelligentsias and peasants did something. They believed. (WHO? Who is they? 2 of them or only one group or both social group…). Just use the term again.

  • Explicit vs implicit
    • You don’t want to “imply” what you mean.
    • Don’t make the examiner guess
  • Keep It Simple Stupid
  • Don’t use big fancy words you don’t know how to use, spell, or know what it means
- No first person
  • “I”…. it was more genuine because… not I think it is more genuine….
- Tricks that examiners do
  • First paragraph, looking for a strong thesis that answers the question. Address and show that you understand the question. (by being explicit). Addressing the question = (explicitly address the question – answer what you’re being asked – if you don’t do this you’re in big trouble)
  • What does the thesis statement do? The purpose: it tells the examiner what you plan to prove.
    • Get information and do something with it/sth interesting with it
    • SEX
      • Statement
      • Evidence
      • Explain
      • You are writing for only one purpose. You are writing to CONVINCE
- Irrelevant
  • Don’t use irrelevant information, those that don’t address the question explicitly
- The last sentence of a paragraph
  • Should wrap it all up… And therefore…. So what??
  • You wrote a whole paragraph about things, facts, and so you gave the narrative but you also have to explicitly tie it to your purpose. The purpose of the essay is to convince the examiner that your thesis is right. Not that you know a lot of information.
- Narrative
  • Telling a story – just telling facts –
- First sentence should say one point that’s proving your thesis. Because of “x” he deserves the title tsar the liberator (this is not a fact or a narrative). Need your opinion, the argument, the analysis. Should always be a strong argument, and then use the facts as evidence for your argument. (usually no more than 7 lines of evidence… too long). Let me tell you why I’m write attitude.
- Outline
  • Always write one
  • Good short efficient outline – when you are actually writing you don’t really “think”
  • Just to give a point, not too detailed.
  • Outline shouldn’t be longer than the essay
- Every essay question is asking about a school of thought, controversial ideas. So you must add other school of thoughts also in the essay… and then say why they are not right.
  • Have to recognize that there are other school of thoughts
  • On the one hand, on the other hand, but…
- Don’t talk about bias in history, because every single human is bias, we know that. But we use words, like “more objective” “in Russian history the reforms were terrible because slavophiles wrote the history…”