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What is a 'balanced' history essay (for IB)?

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So on the marking criteria it says students should write balanced and focused historical arguments for essays in Paper 3. Is this true for paper 1 and 2 as well? Or is paper 1 different? Also, what is a 'balanced' essay. Because surely if the question is 'to what extent...' you can't argue middle-ground every single time. It just wouldn't be good historical practise to say 'all the arguments for are...' and 'all the arguments against are...' and so my conclusion is 'somewhere in between'. In class I've always been told that it's good to have a strong argument and argue it throughout the whole essay. Is this not correct?

Thanks

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In Paper 1 you are answering specific questions or giving very short analyses. The "balanced and focused historical arguments" level descriptor applies for both Marks 16-20 in Paper 2 SL/HL and Marks 18-20 in Paper 3 HL.

Balanced just means that you present different perspectives on the topic. You can evaluate the different interpretations, explaining why they exist, while developing your own argument without compromise.

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For Paper 1 you are only writing a mini-essay for question four. You don't really need to have a balanced historical argument, but it must be focused for this question and make sure you strike a balance between outside knowledge and the sources. So no it doesn't really apply here.

Paper 2 and 3 is where you want to have balanced and focused responses. Even if your question begins with "to what extent" and you say "Yes! This was 100% the reason why World War I happened!" you would want to bring in counterarguments, and this is where your balance part comes in. You would show that there are other opinions and that you have considered all of the interpretations, synthesized them in your head, and come up with your own take on the issue. You definitely want to have a strong argument throughout your essay and you must argue it throughout, otherwise why are you wasting your time writing this essay? Without a strong argument you will not be able to reach the upper mark bands.

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You have to explore both sides through historiography and facts, before using argument to lean on one or the other.

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