This page aims to guide you through how to write an A Level History essay for CIE paper 4.
How should you structure your paper 4 answers?
This is the method which my teacher Mr Wallace Lau has taught us to follow in order to fulfil the requirements of the mark scheme and achieve the highest grade possible.
Stance: Address the question directly by expressing your opinion, but only use the words 'I agree' if the question requires that. For example, if the question is... ‘The appeal of Fascism was the main reason for Mussolini becoming Prime Minister in 1922?’ How far do you agree? You would begin your answer with “I agree to a large extent that the appeal of Fascism was the main reason for Mussolini becoming Prime Minister in 1922.”
Define: Define the keywords of the question. For example, if the question is... ‘The appeal of Fascism was the main reason for Mussolini becoming Prime Minister in 1922?’ How far do you agree? … you should define ‘the appeal of Fascism’. What is Fascism? Define the ideology and what was appealing about it.
Preview: Summarise the arguments you are going to present in your answer.
Point: The ‘point’ of this paragraph should be the topic sentence where you would begin to answer the question by providing an argument as an answer. You should ensure that the first words of this topic sentence imply the correct focus of the paragraph. You could apply the concept of history with the ‘cause and effect’ relationship.
Evidence: In each body paragraph, you should include three pieces of evidence which adequately support the topic sentence. I would also suggest that you should briefly explain each piece of evidence here.
Explain/Evaluate: The final part of the paragraph is the evaluation. Mr Wallace Lau teaches that you can achieve this to the highest level through the use of one synonym (for example… “Legislation repressed political opposition parties, allowing the Nazi party to create a totalitarian state and become unchallengeable.”), one opposite (for example… “Without the removal of the Communist party, the Nazis would have faced significant political and social opposition, which demonstrates that the repression of political opposition was fundamental to the Nazi regime.”) and by linking the evaluation or being more specific.
*I have been taught to apply the ‘PEE’ structure in essays throughout my years at Secondary School.
Stance: Your stance should be reiterated, and it should remain the same as in your introduction. You cannot change your stance from agreeing to disagreeing between the introduction and the conclusion.
Justify: You should justify what the most significant factor is from your point of view. For example… “The use of legislation to repress political opposition was (fundamental to / most important for / the primary factor for) the Nazi regime as it allowed them to…”
Argue: Then, you should argue why the other factor(s) are less significant. For example… “Propaganda was (of secondary importance / simply a catalyst / less important) for the Nazi regime because…”