GCSE History Skills - How to answer the questions

how to answer all the questions for gcse history

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How to approach questions asking you to "DESCRIBE-

  • Focus carefully on the question - it will outline clearly what it wants you to describe.
  • Aim to include several brief features or characteristics in your description - this would involve briefly explaning what caused the event/thing? and what were its effects?
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How to approach questions about "RELIABILITY" Part

These questions are only asking "can the evidence in this source be trusted?"

1) Who made the source? - Were they invloved in what they are describing? They may be biased towards there country? Were they in a good posistion to know all the facts?

2) When was the source made? - mostly book by historians tend to be very reliable as historians search for the truth. If its a living historical source, the person may not be able to remember the events accuracy or may suffer confussion, particulary in old age. Information given by people may also be manipulated and added. Looking back, a person's view of history may also change.

3) What kind of source is it? - School textbook, Statistics, Diaries, Newspapers, Cartoons, Posters or Speeches.

4) Why was the source made? - To record what happened, To persuade, To educate, To blame of justify, To entertain, To make profit or you may have to sum up your own conclusion.

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How to approach questions about "RELIABILITY" Part

1) Is the source mostly fact or opinion? - Factual sorces are generally reliable and can confirm the accuracy from your own knowledge. Sources with opinions need to be treated with more caution but in some cases it can still be slightly reliable.

2) Is there any evidence of bias? - It can be detected in two ways: 1. the language used, "mean, stingy" negative comments against their oppenent. 2. the information given, biased sources tend to only provide information which suits their case - can only be proven by knowing the missing relevant information.

3) Why was the source made? - This should confirm what you said at the end of Part One.

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How to approach questions asking you to explain "W

These questions require you to explain why major events happened. Structure:

  • Avoid long introductions - keep it short.
  • Aim to write at least one detailed paragraph about each of the factors.
  • You must know the event really well as you need to answer it in depth.
  • make it clear which factor you consider most important - with reasons.
  • A short concluson.
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How to approach questions asking you to "Explain..

This type of question focuses on why things happen - causes.

The mostlikely question could be - Q: Explain why this poster was produced, perhaps at a particular time. A: This means you are most likely to explain why it was produced and for what reasons.

To do well in this question you must show you have used both the source and your own knowledge.

1) Discuss all the relevant factors towards the source

2) Add any relevant Factors/Reasons/Pieces of information that is not in the source.

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How to approach questions testing "Usefulness"

These questions are asking you to exlplain how much value a source has for a particulcar investigation.

1) What does the source show?

2) What are te limitations of the source? - Discuss the reliablilty breifly and explain why it is/is not reliable. This will increase its usefulness.

- Proving imformation in the source is incomplete therefore you need detailed knowledge on the event but try to aviod too much detail on this.

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How to approach questions "Testing Comparisons"


  • Aim to show all points on which the sources disagree.
  • Whenever possible make direct comparisons e.g. "The sources disagree about Z".
  • Give evidence for that point from each source. Use short quotations e.g. "Whereas Source X says "........", Source Y States ".......".
  • For top marks - explain why the sources differ in these ways.
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Pete Langley - Get Revising founder

It would help to know what exam board these are for


I think these are applicable to any exam - they're just general tips on how to answer questions.

marc faber

this is **** , there are no model examples and it is just sating the obvs. No point in this whatsoever   

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