Academic Group 3 Subjects

How to ace History Paper  2?

Welcome again to trying to succeed in History exams together. In the previous article, we went through Paper 1 and now it is time for History Paper 2.

History Paper 2 (30 marks)

Recent changes stated that the History Paper 2 exam will last only for 45 minutes and students will be required to write for only one question (For those who don’t know, it used to be 90 minutes for two questions.) Questions are formulated in a way that you need to evaluate two separate historical backgrounds in the same context. Here are some examples from the last exam:

  1. Evaluate the impact of population change on two societies, each from a different region.
  2. “The most important causes of wars in the period 750–1500 were political.” With reference to two wars, to what extent do you agree with this statement?

The command term in the instruction is important since it gives a hint about how the student should proceed with their argumentation.:

  1. Compare and Contrast: State differences and similarities in relation to a particular aspect or event.
  2. Discuss: Make arguments with examples.
  3. Evaluate: Weigh strengths and limitations. In this question, it is often asks if an event is a success or a failure. 
  4. Examine: Consider an argument or conjecture and make a judgment with verification of validity.
  5. To what extent: Often this refers to a quote or statement where you would have to agree or disagree with something.

We already discussed how we formulate a mini-essay for Paper 1, Paper 2 is also quite similar to that. My teacher says that it would be great if we can write 1000 words for the essay—but let’s face reality I’ll call myself lucky if I can write 800 meaningful words in 45 minutes.


For introduction I use the method BOLT:

B – Background information to specify which historical context you’ll be talking about
O – Opposing view to determine the counterarguments to your thesis
L – List of evidence to specify the historical examples 
T – Thesis

Here is an example text with the method:

“Economic aspects contributed to the rise of the Nazis from 1919 to 1934 and the rise of Communist China from 1921 to 1949. Other factors that can be considered are the use of force by the Nazis and Communist Party of China and the personal abilities of the leaders, Adolf Hitler and Mao Zedong. Finally, economic factors contributed to a greater extent to the emergence of both states, as the previous economic weakness led the population to support the Nazis and the Chinese Communist Party.”

Body Paragraphs

In this part, you need to present opposing arguments and prove each of them in separate paragraphs. I usually try to write two supporting paragraphs with my thesis and one opposing. It is important that in the end, you prove the approach you claimed in the thesis. Rebut the counter-argument with examples and remember to stick to the question as you do so. PEEL method is a classic but efficient method for this:

P – Point: the first sentence that presents your argument
E – Evidence: support your argument with facts
E – Explain: analyze your evidence and explain how it supports the argument
L – Link: connect the argument with the question

The conclusion is also the same with Paper 1, and these phrases can help you:

  • In summary, it can be said that….
  • The arguments presented justify the statement that….
  • To return to the question…

My advice to you is to find past paper questions and try to write as many as you can in 45 minutes. Timing yourself is important to prepare for the exam and with every try, you’ll notice you are able to write more words than the previous one. If your teacher is available try to show these writings to them as well, a little critique does more use than harm. Hope this helps you, good luck to everyone who has to read this because their exam is coming up!

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