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.
The Extended Essay is an individual project of 4000 words.
It is a chance to study a topic that interests you which is not covered by the syllabus.
It gives you a chance to study in real depth a topic that you have an interest in.
It can relate to any period and any topic within the last 10 years.
It gives you the chance to work closely with your History teacher to 'fast-track' your historical skills with one-to-one tutoring.
As such it is a great opportunity to produce a mature academic study on something that you might never again have the chance to research.
Both the IA and the EE in History award students who choose an interesting question which they research thoroughly and answer coherently through critical evaluation of evidence.
The IA is only 1500 words long; the EE is 4,000 words.
The EE requires a much heavier emphasis on the use of primary source material than the IA.
The IA is structured into specific sections; the EE is structured more flexibly.
The IA markscheme grades each section separately; the EE markscheme grades each criteria across the essay as a whole.
You will select which of your IB subjects will form the basis of your EE in the Spring Term of the first year of IB. This will usually (although not always) be one of your Higher Level subjects. The supervisor will set a series of internal deadlines and meetings for each student to ensure the completion of the study in a timely fashion.
Start by considering if there is a period / place / person / issue in history that would like to investigate further. Maybe this is something you have read a little about, watched a film about or are interested in from your other studies / hobbies. The only strict rule is that anything that happened in the past 10 years is not allowed.
The three main focuses of study tend to be focused on
- EITHER Causes of an event / situation;
- OR Consequences of an event / situation
- OR Relevance of particular evidence about an event / situation (e.g. a painting, novel, film, biography).
The following resources may help you in your quest for a topic:
- History Department Magazine collection
- History Department DVD collection
Once you have settled upon a topic, you have to then turn this into a question - a problem that your study will solve, in other words.
The following table could help you get started
|To what extent was...||[Event]|
|the most important result of...|
|How useful is...||the Novel...|
|to the historian studying...|
|How successful / significant was...||[Individual] (e.g. politician / sportsperson / entertainer / film director / etc)||in the context of...|
The following list of past Extended Essay questions from the IST will also be helpful:
- How has politics influenced Berlin's architecture over the 20th century? (Predicted 'A')
- To what extent was World War Two a catalyst for British Decolonisation? (Predicted 'B')
- How decisive was Spanish intervention in World War Two? (Graded 'A')
- How far did Nietzsche's ideas influence the Third Reich? (Graded 'B')
- How reliable is Hogarth's 'The Rake's Progress' as evidence of 18th century London? (Graded 'A')
- How and why do Historical sources disagree about the life and career of Bonnie Parker? (Graded 'B')
You are now ready to complete the Initial Proposal Sheet and hand it to your teacher.
Make sure that this is a detailed, considered proposal. Your supervisor will schedule a meeting with you to talk about how you plan to structure your essay in particular.
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