We get lots of requests to write articles on the site as well as requests for writing tips from would-be writers and students. So, following yesterday’s piece on biographical essays, today we’re sharing an article on history essays… What does it take to compose a great essay in History? Today we’ll look into three key prerequisites of a paper worth the top grade.

Writing in History...  A Lady Writing  by Johannes Vermeer, 1660s.

Writing in History... A Lady Writing by Johannes Vermeer, 1660s.

How to Prepare a Stellar History Essay – 3 Key Steps

Have you ever been in a courtroom, or seen on television, a situation where a witness pledges an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? The same rule works in the case of History essays. When writing about the question or topic of your paper, seek to operate with relevant evidence, proven facts and solid data. Do this and the foundation of a great essay will be in place.

What is more, there are 3 key elements to a strong historical essay on top of doing this research and using it well.


Number 1 - Plan your essay through first

Many students and essay writers make one and the same mistake – they rush into drafting content right after background data has been read. But what a smart student does is prepare an outline for their ‘manuscript’ that seeks to closely answer the topic or question of the essay.

·       “Explain Why” – Having to dwell upon a certain historical event, you’ll have to organize data in a way to explain why this or that happened. Analytical skill is important with this type of essay

·       “Discuss a Quote” – Giving a student a quote by a renowned historical figure and asking them to elaborate on its meaning and content is a quite common History assignment. What’s key here is keeping your answer focused and supporting it with as many meaningful arguments and sources as word limits allow you to

·       “Access and Evaluate” – This is perhaps the most difficult type of History essay. It asks you to carry out a deep analysis of a certain event or a historical figure’s activity. Giving your personal evaluation might sound easy, but that’s only when your judgment is based on thorough study of the historical period/person and is backed up by strong sources

·       “Compare and Contrast” – For most students, comparing and contrasting two historical figures or two historical events sounds interesting and even entertaining, but often you will need to research both people/events thoroughly (which can lead to double the research!) and think even more carefully about how you will plan your essay


Number 2 - Mind your judgment

Logic and analysis are key to making your essay a success. Logical and analytical skills are important to History writing, which makes it quite a challenge for some students who are aiming for a really high grade. Indeed, History is a subject that often requires a higher than average ability to analyze complex information and establish cause-and-effect relationships.

So, what’s the problem here? Many people make haphazard conclusions based on their analysis. If you have written your essay in a hurry, or, for example, do not properly understand the events in question and what led to them, you may not be able to join all of the information together leading to errors in your analysis.

In a History essay, it is imperative to think through the subject and not write down the first conclusion that comes to your mind. Some people recommend that you ‘sleep on it’ - meaning let your mind process the sources you have read and allow yourself enough time to form judgments.

But when deadlines are pressing, some students seek History essay help, because they can’t quiet see how a topic links together and answer the essay question well enough. But if you are aiming for a high grade, causes and effects of historical events must be understood and studied thoroughly.


Number 3 - Be critical towards yourself

A truly excellent History essay usually has engaging content, is well-thought through, and easy to read, with credible information that is well sourced. So, what else can you do to produce such an essay? Proofreading is the answer. Many students prepare the first draft, read it a couple of times and then hand it in. Such an approach might work for an average essay, but for somebody who wants to make a real impact with their essay, such an approach is flawed.

You should expect to heavily revise and edit your first and (depending on the context) second draft. Except if you are an amazing talent, there is likely to be significant room for improvement after the first draft, but after a number of revisions, and ideally review from others, the final draft will be worthy of being shown to your professor or evaluator. Don’t worry about to criticizing and fundamentally changing your early drafts as they are there to be improved.

On a final note, don’t be offended when somebody who reviews your essay or your professor provides feedback and points out weak spots in your text, suggesting where the essay could be improved. Consider it another opportunity to improve and turn in an even better paper, rather than their attempt to annoy you. Don’t take someone else’s criticism personally; turn it into an opportunity to improve.


This article was produced in conjunction with Do My Essays.


Now, tell us below: What have your history essay writing experiences been like?

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones
CategoriesBlog Post

We get lots of requests to write articles on the site as well as requests for writing tips from would-be writers and students. So over the next few days we’ll be sharing two articles on history writing. First up, it’s how to write a biographical essay… As surprising as may be, many people, especially students, struggle with writing a biographical essay. This guide shares insights on how to write a great biographical essay.

Writing in History...  Man Writing a Letter  by Gabriel Metsu, 1660s.

Writing in History... Man Writing a Letter by Gabriel Metsu, 1660s.

Biographical Essay Writing Masterclass: Make Sure Your Narrative is Top Class

Biography is like History – a chronological list of events (but in somebody’s life). With there being 4 essential types of essays (persuasive, descriptive, expository and narrative), students often find writing narratives the most difficult. And since a biographical essay is often narrative writing in nature, we’d like to share best practices that show you how to write a great essay or ace an assignment fast. Indeed, if you’re a student taking History classes, you’ll find these tips most useful.


Groundwork goes first

Writing a biography essay is a wonderful opportunity to delve into someone’s life. A renowned actor, politician, writer, inventor, sports star – depending on the topic, you can pick one of a great many figures, with a peculiar, captivating life history and career achievements. 

Your key goal is to trace the roots of who a person was, how they became the person we know them to be, what challenges they had to go through, and what their contributions were to the world. Taken together, thinking about these questions will allow you to pick your subject.

Decided who you’ll write an essay about? Great, time to do your research. As a rule, prominent figures already have tomes of biographies written about them, so your goal may be to fit lots of available information into the framework of a 2000-word essay. In addition, reading interviews and including interesting extracts from them will serve you well.

Just as you finish gathering background data and peculiar pieces of information, don’t rush ahead writing your introduction yet. One of the essentials of delivering a quality essay is drawing up an outline. Think though the structure of your paper and outline the sections and subsections, possibly down to each 150-200 words. Make sure you have a good writing plan at hand to keep all the ideas and draft components in check.  


Introduction, main body, conclusion

In terms of overall structure, a biographical essay is no different to any other type of essay. A standard 7-to-10-paragraph essay with an introduction, main body and conclusion is what we’re looking for.

Introduction: The main goal of the introduction is to grab the reader’s attention and give a smooth transition to the main body of your text. Here are 3 effective methods to “hook” a reader right from the start:

·       Cite a captivating quote or saying by the figure you’re writing about to show how outstanding and notable the persona is/was

·       Offer a short, preferably comic or entertaining short story about the person to set the right mood for the essay to develop further

·       Give an example of an iconic achievement the person attained to firmly grab the reader’s attention


Main body: You have 5-to-8 paragraphs to highlight the milestones in a person’s life and present your essay in an interesting way. For example, if you’re discussing a writer, you might choose to describe one of their most prominent books of the author as well as time periods that preceded and followed the publishing.

If you are writing about a sports star, you might want to select three of the person’s most famous games and some interesting events that took place behind the scenes as you tell their story. Or, if it’s an actor, you can discuss the history of how the person harnessed their talent and became somebody through key events in their life.

Conclusion: It is normally a good idea to discuss the contribution the protagonist of your essay made in their field of expertise, modern culture, history, etc. Has a person left any legacy? Are there any biographical blind spots that require more detailed studying? What were they most remembered for when they died or what are they most well known for today?


Finally… 5 tips for writing a biography essay which always pay off

·       Deliver a consistent story – Narrative essay writing is all about making your story both informative and entertaining. Include proven facts, people, places and events that are relevant to the biography of the person you’re writing about

·       Know your purpose – There will be a reason why you’ve chosen this particular figure. Why are you, for example, writing an essay about a 1950s film star and why should the reader be interested? These questions must be obvious from the essay

·       You need a great introduction – Write a clear and interesting introduction and support it with facts, original sources, and quotes throughout the essay

·       Stick to the chronological order – History is usually a set of events depicted in a chronological order. While it is possible to jump back and forth with your essay, for most people, especially students, writing in a chronological order usually works best

·       Check your background data – Make sure all the dates, names, places, events and figures are correct, and keep Wikipedia information/references to a minimum, as such references can sometimes be less than accurate. All told, rely on proven data and checked facts, supplemented by an interesting writing style


This article was produced in conjunction with UK Essay Now. If you’re looking for more advanced tips on how to write a biographical essay, visit professional academia resources and expert writing-focused blogs, which share in-depth writing tips suitable for students who’d like to improve their History and biographical writing still further.


Now, let us know your writing experiences below!

AuthorGeorge Levrier-Jones
CategoriesBlog Post