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History: Essay Writing

History

Key Points

Read the question or assignment carefully

  • Find the key words in your assignment or essay question
  • Identify exactly what you are being asked to do
  • Break the essay question into parts that help you understand the assignment more clearly
  • Understand the definition or meaning of the key words
  • Always have the assignment question on hand to refer back to key words

The biggest assessment task you will be required to complete is a written research essay which develops an argument and uses a range of sources. All types of assessment tasks will need you to use essay-writing skills in some form, but their fundamental structure and purpose remains the same. Therefore, learning how to write essays well is central to achieving high marks in History.

 

A History essay is a structured argument that provides historical evidence to substantiate its points. 

 

To achieve the correct structure for your argument, it is crucial to understand the separate parts that make up a written essay. If you understand how each part works and fits into the overall essay, you are well on the way to creating a great assessment piece.

 

Most essays will require you to write:

  • 1 Introduction Paragraph
  • 3 Body Paragraphs
  • 1 Concluding Paragraph

Explanations for how to structure and write each of these paragraphs can be found below, along with examples of each: 

read more http://www.historyskills.com/assessment/written-essays/

Brainstorming Tips

  • Read your essay question and write down the first things that come to mind when you think about the question. This is an opportunity to let your mind run wild, no idea is too strange at this stage.
  • Make a list of anything you already know about the topic and anything you will need to research.
  • Draw a bubble diagram (as shown in Example A below) writing the general topic of your question in the middle, then drawing smaller bubbles branching off filled with your other ideas about your essay topic.
  • Use the headings in Example B (below) to help you think of ideas. Write down any key words that come to mind when you read your assignment question and ask yourself what your personal view is on the topic.
  • Use this diagram as a starting point for helping you decide what you need to research and also to start writing up your essay plan.

Example A: Topic and ideas

example of mindmap

Example B: Keywords

image of mindmap (themes)

How to Structure Your Essay

Essay Writing Skills

Essay Writing Detailed instruction breaking down all aspects of essay writing.

Essay Checklist

  • Is My Essay Talking the Talk?

    Ask Yourself:

    • Does it all make sense to someone who has not read it before?

    • Does it answer the question?

    • Does it do what the introduction says it will do?

    • Is 90% of it in my own words?

    • Is there one main point per paragraph?

    • Is it clear how each paragraph relates to the main point (and the question)?

    • Have I avoided any repetition?

    • Does it address the criteria in your unit guide?

    • Have I followed the presentation instructions?

    Is My Work Ready for Submission?

    Ask Yourself:

    • Is all the grammar correct?

    • Are there any grammatically incomplete sentences?

    • Are the full stops and capital letters where they are needed?

    • Have I used the spell checker carefully?

    • Have I closed all the brackets and quotation marks (“”)?

    • Have I used varied referencing formats?

    • Have I referenced ALL the information from other sources, whether or not it is in their own words?

    • Have I used indentation for any quotations longer than 3 lines?

    • Are all the references on the Reference List correctly formatted, including all the required information, commas, full stops, quotation marks and italics?

    • Could your lecturer find a way to take marks off any aspect of your essay?  

    Lastly, look at marking system (assessment criteria) you have been given and compare these with your answer

ABC SPLASH

Multi-Modal Presentations

Multi-modal presentations are typically audio-visual presentations that present the results of your historical research. As a result, you need to undertake the research process and create an argument, very similar to that used in written history essays.

 However, the unique format of this category allows you to use a variety of modes to present your information: either spoken, visual, video, performance, group discussion, etc.

 Possible formats include:

  •   dramatic presentation followed by an out-of-role explanation
  • visual performance, such as dance, artwork, etc.

  • video presentation

  • computer simulation or website creation

  • seminar presentation, such as a university lecture

  • formal speech

 The most important element of this kind of assessment is that it is informative, based upon research and is engaging for the audience.

Read more : http://www.historyskills.com/assessment/multi-modal-presentations/

Keys Words Often Found In Essay Task Questions

Analyse         Identify, describe and criticize the main characteristics of all the questions.

 

Argue            Make a case for and/or against something.

 

Compare        Describe the similarities and differences between two (or more) things.

 

Contrast         Discuss the differences between two (or more) things.

 

Critique         Make a critical analysis about something.

 

Define            Explain something, or explain the meaning of something.

 

Describe        Give a detailed account or explanation of something.

 

Discuss         Investigate, examine, and explain the various arguments and ideas about the topic including your own opinion.

 

Evaluate         Make an appraisal (judgement) about something. Include your own opinion.

 

Examine         Explore a topic and investigate it from various angles or positions.

 

Interpret         Use your own opinion and arguments to explain the meaning or implications of something

 

Outline           Provide an overview of a subject by giving its main features or principles, leaving out less important details.    

 

Relate             Show how things (arguments, events etc) are connected to each other and argue how they are alike or affect each other.

 

Review           Judge something (e.g. a book, film) critically.

 

Summarise    Give an ‘overall’ account of the main ideas or essence of a subject. Leave out finer details and examples.  

 

 

Brainstorming Tips

  • Read your essay question and write down the first things that come to mind when you think about the question. This is an opportunity to let your mind run wild, no idea is too strange at this stage.
  • Make a list of anything you already know about the topic and anything you will need to research.
  • Draw a bubble diagram (as shown in Example A below) writing the general topic of your question in the middle, then drawing smaller bubbles branching off filled with your other ideas about your essay topic.
  • Use the headings in Example B (below) to help you think of ideas. Write down any key words that come to mind when you read your assignment question and ask yourself what your personal view is on the topic.
  • Use this diagram as a starting point for helping you decide what you need to research and also to start writing up your essay plan.

Example A: Topic and ideas

example of mindmap

Example B: Keywords

image of mindmap (themes)

Mindmeister mindmapping tool

Mindmeister is a free mind-mapping tool online that also has apps for your phone and tablet. Great free tool for your study!

Lifehacker article on mindmapping tools

An article from the Lifehacker website comparing some free mindmapping tools.

Essay Writing Visuals

What is a thesis statement?

A thesis statement is the main point that the content of your essay will support.

It is an contestable assertion, usually made in one or two sentences, that makes a clear argument about your research topic.

For example:

Story-telling should be incorporated into the curriculum of early childhood education programs in order to encourage language development in young children.

A good thesis statement will:

  • Assert a strong position that can be challenged and debated, rather than merely describing or stating facts that cannot be contested
  • Form a complete sentence that clearly explains to the reader the overall direction of the essay
  • Be sufficiently narrow rather than broad, so the topic can be adequately addressed in the essay
  • Communicate a single, overarching point rather than multiple points that may be too difficult or broad to support
  • Be clear and specific, as opposed to overly vague, open-ended, or general

Write the Essay and Integrate Sources

Moving from the general to the specific, a good introduction to an academic essay should:

(1) Capture the reader's attention with an interesting "hook" (such as a compelling fact or anecdote)

(2) Provide a clear thesis statement that provides a strong, debatable argument

(3) Refer to the arguments that will be made to support the thesis statement throughout the essay

View the video or follow the links below for more tips and instructions for writing an essay introduction:

Common Mistakes to Avoid

Editing and proofreading your work is crucial as there are many mistakes even the best of writers make. Follow the links below to learn more about these common mistakes:


Style & Argumentation

Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling

Grammar, Punctuation & Spelling

INTERACTIVE ESSAY MAP

Compare and Contrast Interactive Map

This interactive graphic organizer helps students develop an outline for one of three types of comparison essays: whole-to-whole, similarities-to-differences, or point-to-point. A link in the introduction to the Comparison and Contrast Guide give students the chance to get definitions and look at examples before they begin working. The tool offers multiple ways to navigate information including a graphic on the right that allows students to move around the map without having to work in a linear fashion. The finished map can be saved, e-mailed, or printed.

What are the essential parts of an academic essay?

Introduction

  • The introductory paragraph opens with a very general statement about the topic, and is often followed by some supporting examples
  • Provides general introductory statement(s)
  • Focuses in on the topic
  • Outlines what is to come
  • provides an overall thesis statement (if it is an argumentative essay)

Body – the paragraphs

  • The body portion of the essay is the largest portion
  • Each paragraph in the body of the essay should include a topic sentence that tells the reader the main idea of the paragraph
  • The order of the ideas in these body paragraphs should reflect the order outlined in the introduction
  • The paragraphs include: a topic sentence, supporting evidence, supporting examples, a concluding or linking statement.

Conclusion

  • The main purpose is to re-cap the main information you have presented, and to summarise the main argument you have been making
  • The conclusion should briefly review the ideas covered and could finish off with an overall comment on the topic
  • Sum up the main idea/opinion/argument you have been writing throughout the body.

Thinking and writing critically

KEY POINTS

  • Critical writing begins with critical thinking
  • Critical thinking needs to begin when you are reading and researching
  • A critical essay should show YOUR well developed and supported point of view
  • Good referencing is essential in providing support to your opinion
  • Planning will be a crucial part of your essay construction

What is critical analysis?

  • It is more than just reviewing and presenting the evidence
  • It requires you to dig deeply and show a more thorough understanding of the topic
  • It should clearly present your standpoint or position on the topic, BUT this should be strongly supported with relevant evidence (and therefore correctly referenced)

Why do we need to write critically?

  • It shows you can develop your own argument
  • It highlights your ability to investigate issues and ideas at a deeper level
  • It is a crucial academic skill to be able to incorporate existing evidence, theories, models, within your own arguments
  • Writing and thinking in a critical manner is a requirement across nearly all faculties

How do I start thinking critically?

  • NEVER take information at face value. Sometimes there is much more behind what is actually presented.
  • Ask a lot of questions. Is their definition satisfactory? Who funded this research?  What organisation does this journal belong to? Why is there information missing?
  • Don’t limit your understanding to just the required reading. Start digging beyond the basics and take up the role of investigator searching where ever your questions take you
  • Start to include your own feelings and views in your questioning. Why do I disagree with the author? What about this article makes me angry? What is it about this opinion that makes me uncertain?

Standard Essay Layout

Standard Essay Outline

1) Thesis Statement

A.  Supporting Argument/Idea #1

B.  Supporting Argument/Idea #2

C. Supporting Argument/Idea #3

D. Conclusion/Transitional Device

2) Topic Sentence for Supporting Idea #1

A. 

B. 

C.

D. Conclusion/Transitional Device

3) Topic Sentence for Supporting Idea #2

A. 

B. 

C.

D. Conclusion/Transitional Device

4) Topic Sentence for Supporting Idea #3

A. 

B. 

C.

D. Conclusion/Transitional Device

5) Conclusion/Restatement of Thesis

A. 

B. 

C.

D. Strong Concluding Sentence