Writing essays on history is a task that requires special approach. What makes a good history essay? First and foremost, you need to gather enough research materials and get yourself familiar with the topic. Next, you need to understand the topic and come up with some arguments to state. Your arguments should reflect your knowledge and provide readers with comprehensible information. Don’t forget to make notes during a research and compose a plan to keep up with the general structure. And remember – the most important skill you need to compose a history essay is an ability to analyze facts and build casual connections between them. Now let’s talk about this in more detail.
Before you start writing
Like any other academic paper, your history assignment comes with a list of recommendations from your professor. The central question is your main focus and you need to stick to it. You can be incredibly creative in your writing, but when it is not relevant to the main theme, then you will surely fail the task. So read and reread the instructions for a couple of times and think carefully about them. Think about the events and facts you need to learn and grasp before you start writing. If there are some gaps in your understanding, then make sure to fill them or ask your tutor for an additional consultation. There is nothing wrong in asking for clarifications and it’s much better to do so if you have difficulties. This will give you a clue and save your time.
Let’s imagine that you have a topic connected with the World War II. What are the specific social circumstances that made it possible? What are the political interests involved in the event? Beginning with such general questions, you will immediately move to the main figures, ideas, and specific situations that played a significant role in this historical event. You have to determine which time frames and factors to consider and this will be a good start for your essay about history.
Try to avoid the very first ideas that come to your head. You don’t have to repeat thoughts you have read elsewhere, but interpret them in your own way. Think about the meaning of a historical event, the connections between actions, etc. Then rethink them and you will find weak parts of your reasoning. This is not an easy task and chances are that you will get confused. However, don’t panic – confusion is a good sign, which means that the clarity is going to come soon. If you are feeling too confused, then have a small rest and come back to your work later. Coming up with an original and bright idea is hard, but crucial.
Writing a history essay: the process
The first paragraph is extremely important. Your introduction should be informative and eye-catching. You may give definitions to the central concepts, provide a short background, and demonstrate that you understand the question fully. State the time frames and core problems you are going to discuss. To grab your readers’ attention, you may write something compelling and provocative, something that will make them wonder what is next.
When reading your introduction, the professor will make sure that you are analytical and relevant. Don’t fall into two most common mistakes students do. The first one is ignoring the main question and the second one is an attempt to retell the events without providing any analysis.
- Body of your essay
What is history essays writing? It is all about clarity. Remember that readers should be very certain about the question you are examining. You can start developing your body paragraphs with some general facts and then move to specific ideas supported by proofs and quotes. Consider the word count and think about the amount of details you should give. The main arguments need special attention, because you have to cover them entirely. Less important details can be summarized briefly. It is important to make yourself familiar with the interpretations of professional researchers before you start writing your own. At the same time, don’t rely on the historians entirely, because this won’t make your arguments anyhow convincing. You can argue with them and pinpoint something you believe is not meaningful enough.
- The last paragraph
In your previous paragraphs, you have been presenting some facts, analyzing them, and expressing your ideas. Now the time has come to make a conclusion. If you have been researching a couple of different positions, now you need to state which one is better. If you have been examining two reasons of the event, now you should provide the verdict – which one is more likely to be true? This is your summing up and you should approach it seriously.
Also, don’t include any facts you didn’t mention before. Every new idea requires evidence and analysis, so you cannot end your paper with it. This will make your conclusion irrelevant and can cost you a grade. Come back to your main question. Can you answer it now convincingly and briefly? Good! This is exactly something you should do in a conclusion.
There is one secret that will help you understand how to write a history essay: be self-critical. Get ready to revise and rethink your arguments if they are not very relevant or weak. Make self-criticizing a habit and never be satisfied with mediocre efforts. When your professors give you a feedback, try to remember it. This is your perfect chance to become a better writer and compose brilliant papers. If your professor doesn’t give you an advice on how to improve your writing, then you have a right to request one.
Remember that two mains things make an essay really great: relevance and convincing argumentation. The general structure described above is just an example, so you can change it in favor of argumentation building. The number of ways to compose a paper is almost endless, because your writing is the way you express yourself. So make it as unique as you are!