Structure Source Based History Essay Outline

 
  1. I am really struggling in writing and structuring my source based history essays. I am doing Unit 2 Edexcel AS, E5 British Political History, 1945–90: Consensus and Conflict.

    I've been getting C's in my source based essays and I just do not know how to structure them.

    For example, I am working on this essay:

    How far do the sources suggest that Winston Churchill was responsible for the Conservative Party's defeat in the 1945 election?
    Explain your answer, using evidence of sources 1, 2 and 3.

    I have read and analyzed the sources in my head but I just don't know how to structure the source-based essays.

    Could anyone help me step-by-step on how structure the source based essays? At least bring my answer to a Level 4?

    Thanks and I really appreciate the help

    I just need the exam technique to get my grade from a C to an A.

  2. Hey

    I'm also currently studying Edexcel AS History (Medieval and Tudor), so I'll give you the advice and structures I was given. It's helped push my mock grades up from a C to a strong A, so hopefully you'll find it helpful

    First off, strip as much information out of the sources as physically possible. It sounds really simple, but you'll be surprised how basic information that can give you the extra marks can be lost. Best method I've found is OPVL:

    Origin - What is it? When was it produced? Who produced it? Who was it produced for? (i.e. for letters, who was the letter written to?)

    Purpose - What is the purpose of the source? Why was it produced? What information does it give us? Does it give us personal information, political information, social information, financial information etc etc?

    Value - What can we learn from the source? How does it help us as historians? What valuable information does it give us?

    Limitations - What do we not learn from the source? How does it hinder us as historians? How is it limited? (i.e. Is it biased? Does it only show one version of events? Is it only a small extract from a larger piece of writing?)

    Do this to all 3 of the sources in turn, even something as simple as writing down all of this information on paper can really add some significant marks. Once this is down, start to compare and contrast in the following paragraphs:

    Is there a common link between the sources that you can pick out? (For example, do they all talk about similar things? Do they talk about aspects of Churchill's character? Do they focus on the defeat? etc etc)

    From this common link, can you spot any contrasts? (For example, does source 1 say he was fully responsible whereas source 2 say he was only partially responsible?)

    Spend a couple of paragraphs or so comparing and contrasting the similarities and differences between the three sources. If this question allows you to bring in your own knowledge, this would be the place to use it. Make a general statement of your point, reference information from the source (actually explicitly say "source a says...," this really drives home the point and makes it easier to follow, as well as showing where the source evidence is in your answer), then use your own knowledge of the situation to provide some deeper analysis.

    If the question relies on sources ONLY, then you make a more specific statement and reference the sources a lot more explicitly and a lot more frequently, continuously showing where you get your information from. On the pure source answer, it will probably look like all you've done is copy and paste everything, but as long as you intersperse everything with what it is saying, what the meaning is, what the purpose is etc etc, then you're still along the right sort of lines.

    At the end of the answer, do a conclusion that answers the question of how far you think Churchill was responsible in your own opinion. Bring in the basic ideas of some of the sources as a way to back up your opinion.

    I find that this method has been absolutely invaluable when it comes to structuring essays, because where beforehand I just used to write everything that came into my head without any sort of flow, this not only forces me to structure what I'm writing, but also allows me to go over everything so that I'm picking up every mark possible.

    I really hope this helps you out! If you want any questions answered, just give me a shout!
    (Original post by Desertanium)
    I am really struggling in writing and structuring my source based history essays. I am doing Unit 2 Edexcel AS, E5 British Political History, 1945–90: Consensus and Conflict.

    I've been getting C's in my source based essays and I just do not know how to structure them.

    For example, I am working on this essay:

    How far do the sources suggest that Winston Churchill was responsible for the Conservative Party's defeat in the 1945 election?
    Explain your answer, using evidence of sources 1, 2 and 3.

    I have read and analyzed the sources in my head but I just don't know how to structure the source-based essays.

    Could anyone help me step-by-step on how structure the source based essays? At least bring my answer to a Level 4?

    Thanks and I really appreciate the help

    I just need the exam technique to get my grade from a C to an A.


There are two essay prompts at the end of the Praxis Core Writing Exam. The first prompt asks you to write about your personal opinions. The second essay requires you to write about the opinions of others. In this second Source-based essay, you’ll read two passages about the same issue. The passages will be written by different authors who hold conflicting opinions about the issue.

The issues in the Source-based Essay are very similar to the issues raised in the Argumentative Essay. In both cases, you’ll be asked to write about an important social issue that some people may find controversial—something like global warming, copyright restrictions, minimum wage, how to help the homeless, and so on. But unlike the argumentative essay, the source-based essay doesn’t ask for your personal opinion. Instead, you simply need to summarize the opinions of the two passage writers.

Many test-takers find summarization to be a bit easier than coming up with an original opinion. Indeed, the task of choosing and defending an opinion on an important societal issue be intimidating. But summarizing multiple sources poses its own challenges as well. Let’s take a look at what you’ll need to do.

 

Challenge # 1: Getting the facts right

Unless your essay response doesn’t address the topic at all, there’s no such thing as a completely “right” or “completely “wrong” answer on the Praxis Core essays. However, it is possible to summarize the information from the passages in a way that will be “wrong” in the eyes of the ETS scorers who review your Source-based Essay.

As you summarize both readings, be very careful not to misinterpret what’s being said. A clear misstatement of fact can hurt your score a lot. And a failure to understand or properly restate the opinions in the passages can also cost you dearly.

It’s just as important to make sure that you summarize all of the key facts and arguments. Be aware of how both arguments are constructed, and understand the central ideas and evidence each author uses. Include all important information from the original writings in your source-based essay. Again, leaving something important out will make your summary inaccurate and hurt your score.

 

Challenge # 2: Create a well-constructed argument

As you look at the heading immediately above, you may be thinking “Hey wait a minute! You said to summarize, not make an argument!” Yes, I know that we’re talking about the Source-based essay now, not the Argumentative Essay. But in the Source-based essay, you still need to put forth an argument… in a sense.

As the Praxis Core Writing Study Companion indicates on pages 35-40, you are expected to put forth an argument in your Source-based essay. But in this case, you don’t need to choose your own argument, as you would in the Core Writing Argumentative Essay. Instead, the argument is chosen for you—the Praxis specifically wants you to assert that the issue covered in the passages in an important one. You will further be expected to claim that there is significant public debate surrounding the issue at hand.

To support the argument that the essay prompt issue is an important matter of public debate, you’ll use information from both passages as evidence. The writers of the passages clearly find the issue important—otherwise they wouldn’t be writing opinionated articles about the issue. Look for author-provided evidence of the subject matter’s importance. Then look at the distinct opinions in each piece of writing. Compare these opinions side-by-side to demonstrate the nature of the controversy surrounding the topic.

 

Challenge # 3: Be objective

Remember that you’re not putting forth your own opinion on this second Core Writing essay. You’re merely summarizing the opinions of others, as seen in separate opinion pieces on the same topic. The idea here isn’t to side with one opinion or the other. Instead you’ll be expected to write a factual report on the issue from the two passages, taking the perspectives of both authors into account. In other words, you’re writing about a social issue and a debate related to the social issue, rather than actually taking a side within a social issue debate.

Never let your personal opinion distract you from the skills being tested in the Praxis Core Source-based Essay: reading comprehension and summarizations. And be sure to consciously shift gears as you begin this second essay task. Many students unthinkingly stay in “personal opinion mode” as they start to write the source-based essay, because they’ve just finished defending their own opinion the inital argument-based essay prompt on the test.

 

Challenge # 4: Keep an eye on the quality of your writing

On the Praxis Core, the key “good writing” components of the Argumentative Essay are also essential for a top-scoring Source-based Essay. To score well in this second Praxis Core essay, you need to have a logical progression of ideas that is expressed through error-free writing, just as you would in the first Core Writing Essay prompt.

 

By the way, sign up for our 1 Week Free Trial to try out Magoosh Praxis Prep!

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