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Getting an A in a History EE?

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I have just recently begun my Extended Essay in history and was alarmed to find out from my teacher, who does mark exams and essays himself, that it is exceedingly difficult to get an A on it (based on the overall world average when compared to other subjects). What I was wondering is what exactly makes a History EE "A" level? What exactly are examiners looking for in terms of content or style? What can I do, even on a superficial level to improve my essay? I am fairly confident in my ability to analyze historical evidence and use historiography to provide a coherent conclusion, as I did get a 7 on my Historical Investigation, but what makes to two different in regards to the history specifically?

Just to note, my school has pretty much limited us to MLA format for all essays (even History) so the contents of my footnotes are limited, if I'm allowed to use them at all. If not I'm stuck with in-text citation for the entire essay. Additionally, my topic is an examination of the state of Anglo-German relations in the years preceding WWI (1911-1914) and an evaluation of the intentions behind the visible detente between the two (this is in general of course, the actual topic is more specific).

Thanks! :)

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History EEs that receive A's have been completed at a very high level. They were planned, not done the night before. In addition to meeting all of the general criteria, they also do other things.

  • Include some background knowledge, but only what's relevant to the situation. The introduction is a good spot for this.
  • Make sure your arguments are thorough.
  • Analyze!!! Don't just state what happened. Show why it happened, what led to it happening, who played a major role in it, why didn't it happen a certain way, what effect did it have, etc.
  • Include historiography, but don't use it as a substitute for analysis.
  • Evaluate your sources, and evaluate them properly (What can be gained from this source? What hinders this source and what impact does that have on my argument?).
  • Use a variety of sources, not just the internet. Use primary sources if possible.
  • Consider counterarguments and alternative explanations.
  • Use the conclusion to pose new questions that you discovered during your research, tie your topic to a future event, or highlight its importance in causing/preventing something else from happening. Sum up your EE without restating your paper.

Good luck with your EE! I hope you do get an A. My supervisor says my EE, also in history, is very good and is in the A-B range. :)

Edited by emyski
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History EEs that receive A's have been completed at a very high level. They were planned, not done the night before. In addition to meeting all of the general criteria, they also do other things.

  • Include some background knowledge, but only what's relevant to the situation. The introduction is a good spot for this.
  • Make sure your arguments are thorough.
  • Analyze!!! Don't just state what happened. Show why it happened, what led to it happening, who played a major role in it, why didn't it happen a certain way, what effect did it have, etc.
  • Include historiography, but don't use it as a substitute for analysis.
  • Evaluate your sources, and evaluate them properly (What can be gained from this source? What hinders this source and what impact does that have on my argument?).
  • Use a variety of sources, not just the internet. Use primary sources if possible.
  • Consider counterarguments and alternative explanations.
  • Use the conclusion to pose new questions that you discovered during your research, tie your topic to a future event, or highlight its importance in causing/preventing something else from happening. Sum up your EE without restating your paper.

Good luck with your EE! I hope you do get an A. My supervisor says my EE, also in history, is very good and is in the A-B range. :)

Thank you! I've guessed that these were the general things that IB was looking for, but it is reassuring to see all of them put in a list format like this. Knowing what to do at each point in the essay, especially the intro and conclusion, is also very helpful. I suppose getting an A really is a matter of going "above and beyond the expectations", as it usually is. :)

Do you by chance know roughly how much evaluation of sources is necessary? I mean, should I stick to evaluating a few more heavily sourced ones major ones and be a bit more thorough or should I be more general but include an evaluation for each source? I know enough not to put too much focus on this part and to keep it relevant to my analysis, but where is a good place to draw the line?

Secondly, in setting historical context, would I be correct in using only events, both before and after, that are relevant to my analysis and that set a backdrop for my topic specifically? (ex. Explain in brief about the Anglo-German antagonism in the years prior as it relates to the later, more improved relations.)

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History EEs that receive A's have been completed at a very high level. They were planned, not done the night before. In addition to meeting all of the general criteria, they also do other things.

  • Include some background knowledge, but only what's relevant to the situation. The introduction is a good spot for this.
  • Make sure your arguments are thorough.
  • Analyze!!! Don't just state what happened. Show why it happened, what led to it happening, who played a major role in it, why didn't it happen a certain way, what effect did it have, etc.
  • Include historiography, but don't use it as a substitute for analysis.
  • Evaluate your sources, and evaluate them properly (What can be gained from this source? What hinders this source and what impact does that have on my argument?).
  • Use a variety of sources, not just the internet. Use primary sources if possible.
  • Consider counterarguments and alternative explanations.
  • Use the conclusion to pose new questions that you discovered during your research, tie your topic to a future event, or highlight its importance in causing/preventing something else from happening. Sum up your EE without restating your paper.

Good luck with your EE! I hope you do get an A. My supervisor says my EE, also in history, is very good and is in the A-B range. :)

Thank you! I've guessed that these were the general things that IB was looking for, but it is reassuring to see all of them put in a list format like this. Knowing what to do at each point in the essay, especially the intro and conclusion, is also very helpful. I suppose getting an A really is a matter of going "above and beyond the expectations", as it usually is. :)

Do you by chance know roughly how much evaluation of sources is necessary? I mean, should I stick to evaluating a few more heavily sourced ones major ones and be a bit more thorough or should I be more general but include an evaluation for each source? I know enough not to put too much focus on this part and to keep it relevant to my analysis, but where is a good place to draw the line?

Secondly, in setting historical context, would I be correct in using only events, both before and after, that are relevant to my analysis and that set a backdrop for my topic specifically? (ex. Explain in brief about the Anglo-German antagonism in the years prior as it relates to the later, more improved relations.)

Just evaluate the major sources. :) The ones you quoted heavily are the ones you should be focusing on for this. It's also a good idea to evaluate any primary sources you have. Of the 14 sources I think I had, I did about 5 or 6 source evaluations. They don't have to be a five paragraph, overly detailed thing! For example, one of my sources was an article published by Leon Trotsky about his opinion on why the Republicans lost in the war. I summarized his point of view and mentioned its values (alternate viewpoint from the Republicans, etc.), but then pointed out its limitations in about 2-3 sentences (Trotsky was a communist, obviously he would favor the Republic and be anti-fascist and would discredit anything about the Nationalists, etc.) At most, a paragraph would do fine for a source evaluation.

For your second question, only do what's relevant to your analysis and that set up the time period for your event. Including a brief discussion about Anglo-German antagonism is fine as it is relevant. No need to waste your word count on something that really doesn't have much to do with your topic. Your conclusion can include some relevant historical information that occurred afterwards also if you feel that it would help.

Getting an A is going above and beyond as well as making sure you have met all of the marking criteria as well :)

Edited by emyski
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