How to write a history essay: get a ready-made answer!

Obviously, writing a history essay requires you to provide a slew of details as well as historical information within a set number of words and pages. Of course, it’s crucial to provide all the necessary information, but presenting it in rather an intelligent and cohesive way matters too. Here below you will learn how to write a history essay. It’s going to be a good demonstration of your writing skills and also your understanding of the material.

Have your essay question evaluated

The very first thing to do when handling a history essay is to take some time to evaluate the question you’ve been assigned. Regardless of how well-written, well-evidenced or well-argued your paper is, if you fail to answer the answer the question, a top mark is what you won’t get. Ponder over the specific key words as well as phrasing utilized in the question. If you’re uncertain of any of the terms, you require looking them up and defining them.

  • The major words are often required to be defined in the beginning of an essay. They will act as its boundaries.
  • You should do this before conducting your own research just to ensure that your reading is solely focused on the question.

Consider what your essay question asks you

With a history essay there’re different types of question you might be assigned, which will respectively require different responses. You require getting it clear during the early stages, so you could prepare your paper in the best way. Now attentively look at your set essay question and try to find out whether you’re being asked to interpret, explain, assess or argue. You might be required to do any number or all of this different stuff in your paper, so consider how you can do the following:

  • Provide a clear explanation of why something took place or didn't occur.
  • Have information analyzed within a larger framework in order to contextualize it.
  • Present and back a value-judgment.
  • Take a clear position on a debate and then have it justified.

Have your major argument summarized

Having conducted some research you can start formulating your argument or in other words a thesis statement. It's crucial to come up with a strong argument, you could build a firm paper around. Before drafting your paper, you should summarize your main argument, using no more than two sentences.

  • Your argument might change or even become more nuanced as your write your paper, but having a clear thesis statement that you can freely refer back to is extremely helpful.
  • The key point of your paper should be clear enough, so you could structure your paper plan around it.

Make a clear essay plan


Having evaluated the question, you require drawing up an essay plan. It’s an excellent opportunity to have your notes organized and start developing the overall structure that you can use for your paper. When drawing up the essay plan evaluate the quality and depth of the evidence you’ve collected and ensure your thesis statement is well supported.

  • You need to pick out some major quotes, making your argument precise and persuasive.
  • When writing the plan, consider how your paper will flow. You should also think how every point will connect each other.

Conduct your research

You need to distinguish between secondary and primary sources. A history paper will require a firm argument, backed up by substantial evidence. Well, the two main types of evidence to be drawn on by you are secondary and primary sources, and depending on the paper, you might be required to include them both. If you don’t know what sources should be included, simply consult your advisor on this point.

  • Primary source material actually refers to any films, images, texts or any other kind of evidence, produced in the historical period, or by somebody who took part in the events of that period, you’re depicting in your paper.
  • Secondary material relates to the work by historians and other authors analyzing events of the past. By the way, the body of historical work on a particular event or period is the historiography.
  • It’s a common practice to write a historiographical essay or literature review that doesn’t directly draw on primary material.
  • A research essay normally requires a great deal of primary material.

Discover your sources

It might be difficult to get going with your own research. Obviously, there might be a huge number of texts, making it hard to know for sure where to start. You might also struggle to spot relevant material on the subject. However, the tips below will help you to dodge these difficulties:

  • You require starting with the core texts in your course bibliography or reading list.
  • Have a look at bibliographies and footnotes as they are capable of guiding you to new sources and provide you with a clear picture of the crucial texts.
  • Make use of your college library. It also makes sense to look through online catalogues and talk to librarians.
  • Take advantage of online journal databases. Such sources are helpful and easy to navigate.
  • Avoid going straight to search engines. If you’re geared up towards merely typing your topic into your search bar, you’ll be bombarded with results, although their scholarly value will be quite questionable. Moreover, you’ll be bound to spend a great deal of time digging through websites before you spot something really worthy.

Have your secondary sources evaluated

It's important that you critically assess your sources. For a good academic essay you need to utilize scholarly material of the highest quality. It's not difficult to find data on the web, but you need to be capable of employing academic texts written by professional historians. Apparently, if you’re a novice learner, you mightn’t be aware of how to identify scholarly sources for sure. Accordingly, when you stumble on a text, simply consider the following nuances:

  • Identify the writer. Find out if this text is written by an academic having a position at a higher educational institution? Look for the author on the net.
  • Identify the publisher. You ought to figure out whether this book was released by an established academic press or not. Perhaps, you’ll find the publisher’s name in the cover. It’s a good sign if it’s published exactly by a University Press.
  • When dealing with an article, figure out where it’s published. For your paper you’d better utilize articles from academic journals.

Read sources critically

Having found a bunch of worthy sources you require taking good notes and reading the newly-obtained materials very critically. You shouldn’t let your mind drift along when reading an article or book. You’d better ask plenty of questions about what you’re actually reading. Ponder over what the writer is telling, and how the argument is underpinned by the evidence.

You require asking yourself why the writer is arguing this way. Have the text assessed by simply placing this stuff into a broader intellectual context.

Try to spot weak points and limitations to the author’s argument. With your critical mindset you require identifying areas where the argument is fully stretched and the evidence doesn’t fit the writer’s claims.

Take thorough notes

Stay away from writing incomplete notes. You’d better overdo with filling in your notes to be on the safe side. If you do the opposite it won’t be for good for your paper, as it’s impossible to compose a paper using incomplete notes.

Have your notes labeled with the page numbers as well as exact bibliographic information on the source.

It’s time to write an introduction

Your first sentence needs to be strong enough, as it’s expected to set the overall scene, generating interest in the audience and also provide a sort of outline of what is going to be in your paper. You should start with one or several sentences announcing the theme of your paper and indicating what you’re going to write about.

Outline what you intend to argue

In the introduction you need to provide a clear outline of how you intend to have the question answered, and what the very essence of argument is. You need to provide a concise overview of your key points as well as the type of evidence you’re going to utilize to back them. You require explicitly answering the question in just one sentence. After this you’re expected to expand on how you intend to argue the case. Thus, you’ll create a strict outline of your paper’s structure.

Your work needs some concise context

Depending on the type of paper you’re working on, it will be required to provide a concise overview of the key historiographical debates for your theme. It’s crucial to show that you boast rather a deep understanding of what other scholars have written about the topic of yours, and you should be capable of situating your own argument in this broader context.

Get down to the writing stage

Before writing the main body of your paper, ensure you’ve just come up with a clear structure of your argument and the rest of your essay. If you don’t want your paper drop your grade, don’t let your paper lose focus. If you have a clear indication of your paper’s structure in the introduction it’s going to be a nice support.

Have your argument developed

The body of the paper is the exact place where the argument is created and also where you’ll be utilizing your evidence. Carefully consider constructing your paragraphs. You’d better treat each of your paragraphs as a micro-sized version of your paper’s structure. This approach will help to be more organized when writing your paper.

Utilize your source materials properly

You can hardly make your argument more convincing if you employ your evidence in the wrong way. Your evidence can be introduced via summarizing or direct quoting. Using solid evidence intelligently and strategically will drastically improve the overall value of your paper. Stay away from using long quotations. Instead, opt for the quotes, which are good at illustrating your point.

Ensure your paper freely flows

The overall fluency of your paper appears to be a crucial element in composing a worthy history essay. It’s up to you to ensure a smooth transition from one paragraph to another. It would be very difficult to follow a series of disconnected points. So, ensure your paper is one solid entity.

Have a good conclusion


This final section of your paper is expected to succinctly and precisely summarize your argument as well as the major points. Ensure your conclusion fully reflects your paper’s content, referring back to the outline provided in the introduction.

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