The most important thing about structuring any essay is knowing what you think about the question! Before you work on the specifics of what goes in which paragraph, try to think of a short, one- or two-sentence answer to the question you've been asked. This is your overall argument. Keeping this in mind as you write will keep you from waffling and make your structure much more focussed.
In terms of the structure of the paragraphs, there are several ways you could do this. Some people like to split their essays into themes or topics (so if you were, say, evaluating why Germany lost World War II, you might want to split it into sections like international relations, economics, military technology, domestic morale).
Another good way is to organise your essay by argument. You will have done this before in simple “for-and-against” essays, where you argue two sides of the question and then conclude. For A-level you need to make this a little more sophisticated- if you can, bring in other historians’ opinions. For example, a really good essay structure is to explain why a particular historian or group of historians think a certain way, explain how these views could be challenged, and then put forward your own opinion on the issue. This structure has the advantage of keeping you focussed on the question rather than adding in unnecessary description, and evidence of independent thought and knowledge of historians’ views should pull you up into the higher grade boundaries
Both structures are equally valid: you will find that certain questions and your own writing style might lend themselves to one or the other approach. Whichever you choose, the important thing is to keep things clear and simple: focus your paragraphs with a Point Evidence Explain approach (or something similar) and remember that every piece of information you put in has to be relevant to answering the question.
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.