How to write a good history essay
You are about to doze off in History class when the bell rings. Just as you startle awake, grab your things and head out the door, you hear your teacher’s final instructions for the class, “Write a 5-page essay on the Tea Party Movement!” he barked out to the students who could still hear him. “Great! Another boring essay for class.” You think to yourself. Surely there is some other way that the throwing of tea into the river in protest against the British rule could be made more interesting. Right? Definitely, and I am here to help you turn that boring topic into an exciting one. How’s that? Wipe the sleep from your eyes and follow me, down the road to history and back…
- There’s such a thing as the “wrong side of history” right? So that means writing a history essay has right and wrong answers. On the contrary, a history essay is one of the least places that you should worry about getting an answer wrong. That is because there are no wrong or right sides to history. Only the story of what happened is what matters in a history essay. How it happened, why it happened, who was at fault are all trivial matters. After all, history already happened, so who was wrong or right doesn’t really matter anymore
- Read and understand the instructions before you write. Remember, writing an essay can’t come from the top of your head. If you don’t understand the discussion method being required then you will most likely get the essay wrong. What sorts of history essay discussions are there? Let’s see, there’s “Explain and why”, “Assess, signify, and define the significance of”, “Describe the role that X played in…”, “To what extent” questions are some of the possible written discussion scenario’s possible for a history essay. If you don’t know how to discuss the essay, then you won’t be able to answer the question properly. Only in this instance is it important that you make sure that you discuss the right topic in the right manner for the essay.
- Read, read, read, the source material your teacher provides. Keep track of the guide questions provided. Make sure to specifically look for responses to the questions or relevant keywords that you can use in the development of your essay. Keep notes. The minute you read the response, jot it down. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t in a presentable form yet. At this point, it’s all about collating information and nothing more.
- Outline your discussion plan. Think of writing a history essay in the same manner as writing a story. What is the beginning of the story? Where is the middle? What is the end? By laying out how you plan to discuss the content, you will also develop a more coherent and cohesive presentation of information. Which in turn, will help you to better expand upon the responses to the questions given to you.
- Make sure you have enough material for the essay. 5 pages isn’t easy to write if you aren’t really interested in the topic you are writing. Yet, you must inspire yourself to write those pages somehow. The best way to gain inspiration is by reviewing your source material and comparing your preliminary research with the questions. Find the loopholes and lacking information in your work. By filling in the holes, the writer will be able to write an interesting essay that will meet the page requirement of the teacher.
- Getting started. When drafting your essay, just place the notes on the page. It doesn’t have to present a clear direction or lengthy response yet. It just needs to exist on the page. Use the outline to help you in placing the information that you sorted out for the history essay.
- Review, revise, repeat. A history essay is a living, breathing, evolving essay that needs to be written numerous times before gaining its final form. By slowly developing the content of the essay, the writer can make the essay more interesting by using additional facts of anecdotes that relate or have a relevance towards the given topic. Make sure that your source materials and names are accurate and verifiable. Otherwise, the data will be called into question.
- Finalize and conclude. Once all of the researched material has been properly placed in the paper, make sure that all the provided instructions of the teacher has been represented in the essay. When that is done, it’s time to finally put the history essay to bed.
Remember that writing about history isn’t just about facts and historical names. Making the essay interesting also depends upon the imagination of the writer. Bring the reader on the historical adventure. Immerse their senses in the battle, make the reader feel the desire to shout “Charge!” at the enemy. An interesting history essay will depend solely on the interest that the writer has in discussing the topic. If the writer is excited and interested in the topic, it will show in the essay. Without that interest, there is no way the history essay can be made interesting.
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