Answer History Structured Essay Question

The essay writing criteria

First things first! Let us have a look at the criteria that the examiners will use to determine the mark out of 20 that your essay will receive. The 20 marks available are broken down into three components:

  1. 4 marks for structure
  2. 10 marks for argument
  3. 6 marks for knowledge

1. The structure of the essay

The marks for structure are awarded for the way you have introduced, developed and concluded your essay. To attain full marks for structure your introduction, development and conclusion must include a number of things.

The introduction should:

  • Set the question in its wider context by giving background information on the event, issue or development and/or explain some of the terms of the question.
  • Indicate the relevant factors or the main ideas that you are going to use to explain the event, issue or development.
  • Have a clear line of argument. This means that even at this stage you should be indicating what you believe to be the most important factors in explaining the event development or issue.

The development should be clearly focused on the question and should not just be a story or narrative of what happened.

The conclusion should:

  • Summarise the argument (the points you have made to explain the event, development or issue)
  • Have balance by showing that some things are more important than others and that there may be differing views.
  • Come to an overall judgment directly related to the question

2. Argument within the essay

The marks for argument are given for the way you have used the evidence you present to explain an event, development or cause. When you create an argument you have to be careful that you are not telling a story of what happened in the past.

You must make the argument that you believe X happened in some part because of Y. Present the evidence that shows Y was important. Then explain why you believe the evidence you have presented in relation to Y explains X. This will ensure that you are using the evidence to support an argument and not just to tell a ripping historical yarn!

The argument should be:

  • Focused directly on the question
  • Supported by evidence
  • Constant and balanced throughout the essay
  • Aware of alternative interpretations and debate (views of historians)

3. Knowledge

The marks available for knowledge are for evidence that you present that is both relevant to the argument and accurate. These marks are given for points of evidence and points which are developed further.

Before we go any further we are going to introduce a question that should be familiar to most people who have studied Standard Grade History. You will have had practice writing this as an 8 mark essay and now we are going to show how you would plan and write this as a 20 mark Higher History.


What is a structured essay question?

A structured essay question seeks for a structured answer from students regarding thetopic that they have been taught. It is called “structured” because students are expected to

“structure” arguments to answer questions with the information that they havelearnt

. This means that SEQ does not merely test on your memory but your ability toformulate arguments based on what you know.

Structured Essay Question Breakdown

(a)Why did…. (4)(b)How did … (4)(c)To what extent/ Do you agree…(7)For your SA, you will be expected to do two SEQs (two sets of a, b and c). You should

not take more than half an hou

r for each set of question. Each question will be basedon

one chapter (not theme)

and every part will cover one civilisation. For example, if  part (a) is about India, (b) will on China and (c) will be on SEA.

Structured Essay Question Answering Format

The guide below serves as a template for answering your SEQs.For the

“Why did” and “How did”

types of question you can use the following format.(Either PEEP or PEEL)

P- Point (Your argument)E- Evidence (Historical evidence to support your argument)E- Elaboration (Show how is the evidence related to the point)P/ L- Point/ Link (Show how point answers the topic in question)

PEEP or PEEL twice to get the highest marks. Start a

new Paragraph

when you PEEP or PEEL the second time. (The person you are peeping will know that you are peeping if you peep for too long/ you can’t peel a banana twice!) Do it a third time only if time permits (just in case one of your points is incorrect).



 Name: ____________________ ( )Class: ________________ 

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