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Creating clear and easy to read arguments to answer complex questions

Our weekly blog has been written by Mr Davies, Head of History and Politics & Orchard Housemaster. He talks of pupils excellent ways to decode a difficult question and how to create a clear answer.

History is primarily about reading and writing. Those two basic skills are critical. Beyond that, it’s about interpreting evidence and creating balanced arguments but then making and communicating clear judgments which show sound understanding of all the facts.

But at its core, History is about reading the evidence and then writing, about decoding a difficult and often confusing question and producing an answer of clarity.

To give you an example, here is an excerpt from an essay by Ethan Hill (Year 13): To what extent did the legal and local government reforms of Alexander II allow greater participation in politics by the Russian people in the period 1855-1870? Ethan has taken a most certainly complex and dry question and constructed a clear and erudite argument which is easy to read and will please an examiner:

It could also be argued that the local government reforms introduced by Alexander II allowed for a greater participation in politics for the Russian people. Before the reforms, the Tsar’s autocracy ruled across the country. The local government was split into three levels which found it hard to work together, leading to a lack of communication and therefore less development. However, Alexander II’s introduction of Volosts, soon after the emancipation of the serfs, began several reforms which would further the participation in politics by the Russian people. Volosts were introduced, covering around 25 square miles of land each, and within them they created the mir to control day-to-day life. Each group of ten households sent a representative to the mir, ensuring everyone was fairly represented, whether that be nobility, townsmen, or peasant. This led to positive change in villages such as improvements to sanitation and education. These developments exemplified the increasing influence of a range of social classes in Russia’s politics. However, despite the improvements, there were multiple events which proved that there were still many flaws with the Russian political system.

Alexander II of Russia - Wikipedia

This paragraph shows a clear point, excellent evidence, focused explanation and then leads on to his counter-point. Recreating this sort of writing under exam pressure will ensure top grades.

We wish all of our History & Politics pupils the very best in their forthcoming exams and hope that they can produce top quality essays under pressure.

Mr Davies
Head of History and Politics & Orchard Housemaster