4 Tips to Improving Your History Grade

June 2, 2016

Improving your GCSE History grade: 4 top tips

Start improving your grade today!

The following is our 4-step guide to improving your history grade; a series of practical steps you can take to focus your revision.

1. Get to grips with past papers  
GCSE past papers are often an unexplored treasure trove of information, knowledge and help when it comes to approaching revision. Examining previous exam papers in detail will allow you to pick up on the language, patterns and approaches to question-setting. And it will give you confidence when approaching your own paper. 

Sit down with a stopwatch and complete an exam question, or even a full paper. Doing this will give you a good sense of how you are performing, particularly in terms of timing. Ask a teacher or classmate to review your answers and get as much feedback as you can in advance of the exams.


2. Answer the right questions 

History is a subject that is quite intense when it comes to the written exam. There is nothing worse for students who have spent time and energy writing lots of detailed answers than to realize that they have taken the wrong approach to a question and their time has run out.

It’s essential to double-check that you are answering the right questions. When you open an exam paper for the first time, an effective exercise to focus your reading is to underline the key questions or words so that you can focus on exactly what is being asked of you in the answer.

Read and consider each question until you are sure of what it’s asking you. Even if your answer contains information that is detailed and accurate, an examiner cannot award you marks for an answer that’s irrelevant. Ensure to answer all parts of each question.


3. Be conscious of length  
GCSE History covers a huge area across 18th, 19th and 20th century Europe: British history and politics – Ireland, World Wars I and II, Tudors and Stuarts; and Russian Tsarism (1721 – 1917) and Communism (1918 – 1991).  

Every student has a favourite topic or area to write about. However, avoid the temptation to delve into excessive detail on any question – even if you have a passion for the subject matter – because you will put yourself at a disadvantage when it comes to subsequent questions. Overwriting a particular answer makes you more likely to run out of time.

4. Support your answers with examples and evidence 

In the GCSE History exam, students can trip up when they don’t support their answers with adequate examples and evidence. It’s essential to work in relevant historical sources, dates, facts, and figures into your answers.

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