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5 Steps to Writing an Historical Essay

Hints on how to start a history paper

❶For example, the following contention might form the basis of an essay question on the rise of the Nazis:. Although it might seem like an annoying task, if you don't use the right style it suggests laziness to the person marking your essay.

What is a history essay?




The format for a history paper is fundamental as it will determine how you are going to accomplish your writing. Here are some of the tips on how to write a good history paper:.

Just like other essays, a historical paper is divided into three main parts: The introduction — the introduction is where you start your writing. You should include there brief background information about the topic to educate the reader on what they are reading.

The introduction should be brief and precise as it is the first appeal of your work and the reader should not lose interest in your paper. Immediately after the introduction, you should write a thesis statement.

A thesis statement is a short sentence that states what your essay is going to cover. The body — the body is actually the main agenda in your essay. You should start your body paragraphs with topic sentences. The topic sentence will help in the introduction of the idea to the reader.

Every argument should be accompanied with evidence. Make sure you organize your points smoothly to create an impression of the topic to the reader.

Start with the strong points then towards the end you can supplement it with the opinions from secondary sources.

The conclusion — this is the last part of your essay, and so you should not ignore it since it will grade you in the paper. A contention is the main idea or argument of your essay. It serves both as an answer to the question and the focal point of your writing. Ideally, you should be able to express your contention as a single sentence.

For example, the following contention might form the basis of an essay question on the rise of the Nazis:. At some point in your research, you should begin thinking about a contention for your essay.

Remember, you should be able to express it briefly as if addressing the essay question in a single sentence, or summing up in a debate.

It should sound like the voice of someone well informed about the subject and confident about their answer. Once most of your research is complete and you have a strong contention, start jotting down a possible essay structure. This need not be complicated, a few lines or dot points is ample. Every essay must have an introduction, a body of several paragraphs and a conclusion.

Your paragraphs should be well organised and follow a logical sequence. You can organise paragraphs in two ways: Every paragraph should be clearly signposted in the topic sentence. Once you have a plan, start drafting your essay. Write a compelling introduction. Many consider the introduction to be the most important part of an essay. The introduction is important for several reasons.

It is where you begin to signpost the direction your essay will take. Aim for an introduction that is clear, confident and punchy. Get straight to the point — do not waste time with a rambling or storytelling introduction. Many history students fall into the trap of writing short paragraphs, sometimes containing as little as one or two sentences.

This sentence introduces the paragraph topic and briefly explains its significance to the question and your contention. Good paragraphs also contain thorough explanations, some analysis and evidence, perhaps a quotation or two. The conclusion is the final paragraph of your essay. A good conclusion should do two things. Strong thesis statements usually need to include about 3 points that you intend to prove through the essay. When coming up with your thesis for a historical essay there are a few things to keep in mind: Create an Introduction Paragraph.

Creating an introduction paragraph becomes more easy once the thesis has been determined. When writing your introduction there are a few ideas you need to keep in mind: Some people may prefer to write their thesis first as we have done here, or some may choose to begin writing their introduction paragraph and then figure out the thesis as they get there. Neither way is wrong! The majority of your work will appear here, in the body of the essay.

This will usually be a minimum of 3 paragraphs more or less depending on how many points included in you thesis.


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There are an infinite number of ways to write an essay because any form of writing is a means of self-expression. Your essay will be unique because you are unique: it’s up to you to ensure that it’s uniquely good, not uniquely mediocre.

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An essay is a piece of sustained writing in response to a question, topic or issue. Essays are commonly used for assessing and evaluating student progress in history. History essays test a range of skills including historical understanding, interpretation and analysis, planning, research and writing.

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Writing a historiography essay is key when it comes to analysis of past events and occurrence. Unlike a historical paper, a historiography paper focuses on how other scholars viewed history and interpreted it, so the main task here would be to analyze different works recorded at different times of history then provide critique on the same. The first thing you should do when writing a history essay is to study the question very attentively and get its meaning. It may seem too obvious, but still, most history essays are off the point.

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The purpose of this guide is to walk a high school student through an easy step-by-step process of writing an historical essay. Writing an essay for history is not .