I’ve been an examiner for many years. We are not looking for perfect answers without any mistakes – contrary to rumour, examiners are human! Nothing pleases an examiner more than reading some good history.
My top exam tip is to follow precisely the guidance your teachers have given you for your course for your exam board. They will have given you past paper questions and all the right techniques, so as Friday approaches a focus on these key skills will always help you.
There are some generic pieces of advice which apply to any course. The reason they are so commonly given is because they are so often ignored, sadly:
Look at the dates in the question carefully
A question about the February Revolution in Russia in 1917, for example (which came up for my students last year), did not require answers about the Bolshevik seizure of power in October. But a question about changes in aerial warfare 1939–2003 would benefit from discussion of the Second Gulf War of 2003, for example.
Allocate time in proportion to the marks available
Don’t be the student who runs out of time. Scribble down your timings before you start writing and stick to them. Final questions tend to carry the most marks, so give yourself time to excel.
Many students on Friday are tackling theme papers, for example on the very topical subject of migration and empires since medieval times, or on monarchy and democracy. For these:
Think ‘big picture’
Pick some examples from across the period in the question. If the question is about monarchs ruling by cooperation and not conflict between 1000–1750, then explaining an example from the reigns of William and Mary or Charles II will give you more of an overview than just looking at William I and Elizabeth I.
Link your factors
A question on whether religion was the main factor in causing migration since medieval times will reward you for writing also about economic reasons for moving. But your examiner will be delighted if you can explain how reasons changed, for different groups at different times, or stayed the same, or were quite varied and rarely uniform. Quote some examples from across the dates in the question.
We also asked for the advice of history teachers who follow us on Twitter and Facebook…