How hard is it to get a 9 in GCSE History?
The grade boundaries for a 9 in History vary year on year, as well as between boards and papers, however, the 2022 exams indicate that a mark of around 75 per cent or higher will receive a 9 in the History GCSE.
What percentage of students get a 9 in GCSE History?
There has been a steady increase in the number of students who have received the top grade in GCSE History of late, following the disruption of the previous few years. As it stands, around 7 per cent of students who sit a GCSE History paper receive a 9.
Where can I find GCSE History past papers?
GCSE History is currently offered by three key exam boards – AQA, Edexcel and OCR. While the three share the overarching subject and answer style, there are key differences in the content and periods studied, which are outlined below.
AQA divides their History exams between Britain and the rest of the world. The first paper offers a chance to look to Germany throughout the world wars, Communism in Russia or Independence in the US. For the second paper, fields of study range from the Normans and Elizabethans to the British Empire. Resources to review this can be accessed here:
Edexcel differs from AQA as it requires students to sit a further paper. The first focuses on Britain, with options to write on War, Crime and Punishment, Medicine or Migration. Paper two requires students to respond to one British depth study, and one period study. The third paper looks to a modern depth study, on either Russia, Germany, China or the US. Resources to support this can be accessed here:
Much like Edexcel, students are required to sit three papers for their OCR History GCSE. The first focuses on international relations in Britain, with the opportunity to further focus on Poland, South Africa, Russia, China or the US in more detail. The second looks to War and Power across the country. The third and final, considers the lasting impact of the reformation and the Empire on Britain. Resources to aid your understanding of this can be accessed here:
What are the best ways to revise for GCSE History?
While there are a wide range of ways one might revise for a GCSE in History, it is generally advisable to do a little work often, as opposed to one off bursts of study. This enables you to ensure you have cemented the relevant dates and key concepts, and to gauge those which might require further focus and attention later on.
Structure is paramount in receiving a 9 in your History GCSE, both enabling you to include all the relevant information in your work, as well as providing a clear indication of your knowledge to the examiner. It is generally a wise idea to utilise a standard PEEL (Point Evidence Explain Link) structure where possible.
While writing mock answers to questions is always preferable, time may not always allow for this. As such, there is merit to writing plans for the questions posed in past papers instead, including key details and dates that you can slot in to your eventual answer. These plans can then be translated to your final exam answers.
Read around your subject
Any and all reading around your subject will benefit you in the final examination. Be it developing a further sense of the overarching historical context, or finding key pieces of information to incorporate into your answers, the more information you have, the better you will do.
Explain it away
A number of students find that explaining key concepts, timelines, and events to someone else can be helpful in cementing their ideas. Find someone who is willing to sit with you for half an hour, and talk them through your subject. Often you will find they ask questions you had not yet thought about, which you can review in turn.
Perfect practice makes perfect
When you are completing past papers, ensure that you compare your answers with the mark scheme. Check for additional information that ought to be included in your answers, and edit accordingly. Do you best to include these the next time you answer a similar question. Perfect practice makes perfect.
As highlighted above, the exam board through which you are sitting your History GCSE will offer a range of past papers and mark schemes to support your studies. Using these can be one of the best possible ways to ensure you are well versed in the type and style of questions that will be posed in your final examination. Ultimately, reviewing these past papers will ensure you are best prepared for your eventual examination.
Ask your teacher
One of the best founts of knowledge for your GCSE History examination is your teacher. Ensure you ask them any questions of which you are unsure, and ask whether they will mark any work you complete outside of class.
Your mock exams will also provide the perfect opportunity to gauge which areas you excel in, and those which require more focus and attention. This could range from a particular type of question to a specific subtopic, and offer an excellent chance to further tailor your revision.
GCSE History last minute revision tips
Plan to incorporate History GCSE revision into your timetable as soon as you are able. As discussed above, the little, often policy will help you to do your very best in the final examination. Use your in class work and homework to gauge which areas require further review, and those which you feel more confident in. Creating summary guides may also prove helpful in breaking down the information you are required to learn for the examination, and help to commit it to memory. For more tricky areas, a timeline can also help to cement events in your memory.
If you are sitting a range of arts and sciences, try to partner your subjects up in your revision timetable so that you are not working purely on essay based subjects on the same day. Look through the past papers available, in addition to the notes you need to make, and split these up accordingly. Remember not to overwork yourself.
In the run up to the exam, ensure you have developed an exam technique, and know how long to spend on the relevant questions. Familiarise yourself with the format of your paper too to ensure that you are well aware which parts of the examination you ought to answer.
The night before the exam, resist the urge to cram. Review your notes, but avoid any further past papers at this point.
How do you answer a how far do you agree question in GCSE History?
How far questions are a key element of the History GCSE, and can appear in both sourced based, and non-source based questions.
In the former, which will ask how far a source explains a key concept, or how far the source illustrates a concept or subject, it is first prudent to set your question in context, before moving on to an examination of the limitations of the source. You must then consider other reasons to explain the issue at hand.
In the latter, you are required to use your own knowledge entirely, and must first explain two reasons for one side of the argument. Following on from this, it is wise to then consider two reasons on the opposing side of the argument, and to write these down. A strong conclusion ought to follow this, with an overall judgement as to the statement in the question, supported by your evidence.
Tips for answering a 16 mark question in the GCSE History exam and how long should you spend on the question?
The 16 mark question in the History GCSE is, in essence, a short essay, and ought to be treated as such. This will usually be structured around the question “How far do you agree?” and ought to take around 24 minutes including planning time. You should expect to write around two sides of A4 in answer to the question. The most important thing you can do to help yourself with this question is to spend a few minutes planning what you would like to include in your answer, and which evidence you will use to support it.
From here, you ought to move on to an introduction of the topic at play, stating your argument, and explaining any context prudent to the question. It is also important to write down how you have interpreted the question.
Following this, adopting the standard PEEL (Point, Evidence, Explain, Link) model will ensure your greatest chance of success. Remember to include as much detail as possible while also linking back to your question. Your opinion is important, but so too is basing it in fact.
Your conclusion should centre around the information you have written in your answer, and use this to ultimately develop your response to the question. A strong conclusion is key.
Key findings from past examiners reports for GCSE History
As discussed throughout this article, structure is absolutely key in ensuring you perform well in your History GCSE. Throughout the examiner reports, the importance of structure is highlighted time and time again, with the highest scoring candidates employing the correct structure throughout the paper.
Read the question
While this may seem apparent, examiners identify the importance of reading the question in its entirety, in addition to highlighting key words to ensure the answer offered responds well to the question.
Answers which scored more highly in the History GCSE were specific in their use of dates and concepts, and were ready and able to apply these to the questions asked. Through relating contextual knowledge to the questions posed, candidates were able to accrue marks with ease.
Have an argument
Students who scored a 9 were distinguished from their cohort by their ability to identify and describe the arguments used in the source based questions. This ensured that they were able to apply their interpretation as part of their eventual answer, and to score highly as a result of this.
It’s all about context
Setting your answer in historical context will offer you marks, and demonstrate to the examiner your knowledge of the period you have been studying. A quick line or two can provide more than enough information to score the requisite marks.
In the PEEL structure, elaborate could be understood as the second E of “explain”. The most successful candidates are willing and able to elaborate on the points they have made, ensuring that they link to the question.
In questions that require a discussion of the limitations of the source, a discussion of provenance is key, according to the examiner report. Consider the role of the author, the time period, or the place of publication as a helpful starting point for this type of question.
When asked to list different contributing factors, examiners noted that marks could not be afforded to students who rephrased the same factor in a different way. Ensure that your factors are distinguished from one another to avoid falling foul of this.
Don’t repeat the source
While including the source in your answer is key to writing a lucid and cogent answer, there is little value in repeating the source verbatim. Instead, use the source as a starting point for your answer, and analyse as the question demands. Examiners identified that those who scored most highlight were able to demonstrate a clear line of argument in line with this.
Use the mark scheme
The marks available ought to indicate how long an answer ought to be. The more marks available, the longer an answer ought to be, and vice versa. In light of this, ensure that you neither over write nor under write your answers, to ensure you score the most marks possible in a timely manner.
GCSE and IGCSE History Tuition
With tutors based in London and available online to families around the world, Keystone is one of the UK’s leading private tutoring organisations. Find out more about our GCSE History Tutors and IGCSE History Tutors.