Coursework Question: Watch this space...
- Component 3 of Cambridge IGCSE History requires that candidates produce one piece of extended writing up to 2000 words in length - Any part of the answer beyond 2000 words will not be assessed.
- Your answer should be focused on the issue of ‘significance’.
- You should select relevant material and organise and deploy it relevantly to answer the question. You should also develop, explain and support your own arguments and judgements.
- You should try and avoid description and narrative.
- Markers and moderators are not interested in how much you know or can write; they are only interested in how well you have used your knowledge and information to answer the question.
- Coursework is marked out of 40 marks by your teacher and externally moderated by a Cambridge Moderator
Tackling the Question
- You need to think carefully about what the question is asking and what answering it will involve.
- You should begin to select material that might be useful and relevant.
- You have access to your knowledge of the topic, your classwork, textbooks and reference books and the internet, including the Department Website
- You need to select examples from all this content that will be useful and relevant.
- Remember- You should understand that a comprehensive answer to the question is not expected when only 2000 words are available. You need to select what you regard as the most important features that allow you to construct and support an argument about significance.
- Answers that use two or three aspects (of significance) relevantly and in depth will always score higher marks than answers that try and cover many more aspects because each will be dealt with only superficially. It should be noted that ‘relevant’ is a key word in the mark scheme. Coursework that contains substantial sections of irrelevant material e.g., long-winded descriptive introductions, will be failing against one of the key criteria and this will affect the level into which it can be placed.
- A question that asks about the significance is a question about importance over time and relates to a whole range of issues from which you must select.
- Use criteria to help you assess significance - as discussed in class and used in your mock coursework piece.
- Use the vocabulary list above to help you focus your judgements - choose words carefully
Some Top Tips / Guidance from the Exam Board on understanding the task and significance
- It is important that candidates understand the need to assess significance in its broadest sense. This means that learners must ask themselves how far someone or something was significant for different reasons and in different ways. (e.g. social, economic, political, cultural etc.)
- It is also helpful if learners understand that they need to assess significance, rather than simply explain or describe it. DO NOT ASSERT significance – explain what makes it so.
- Candidates often claim that someone or something is significant because it led to a particular outcome. Learners can explain significance by explaining and assessing how far the outcome mattered. Significance is ‘measured’ by the impact (good OR bad) that a person or event had on the developments within the chosen country.
- Learners should be aiming to explaining impact both short and long term.
- Learners should leave out long passages of unnecessary description, narrative or background.
You need to remember that your central task is to answer the question.
Every paragraph should help towards this.
It should be helping to drive the answer along.
Explanations win over assertions (of significance) every day!
Organisation + Structure
- It is possible for your answer to demonstrate good, relevantly deployed material but still fail to articulate an effective answer. Your answer need to be well-organised and coherent.
- You need to tackle the question in a logical order, having identified how the material builds up and supports the main thrust of your argument.
- One of the advantages of coursework is that you can carefully plan your work and produce a rough draft. Therefore, you should be in a position of knowing what your overall argument and point of view is before you start writing the final draft. (You can’t not have a view!)
- You should indicate your main viewpoint and argument before you start writing the final draft. One approach is to state this in the opening paragraph of the coursework. This gives focus and direction to the rest of your the answer in which you will go on to justifies your point of view.
- For example, taking the question, ‘How significant was Stresemann to the revival of the Weimar Republic ...’ question you might begin by stating that you are going to argue that Stresemann was not very significant for The revival of the Republic.
- Warning - you do need to explore counter arguments- but your general thrust must be what you said in your introduction for your answer to be effective. So it is worth taking your time to think carefully about your introduction.
- In the Stresemann example you need to explain arguments that support Stresemann’s significance and then argue why these are not as convincing as any opposing arguments.
- Do not fall into the trap of explaining both sides of an argument without directly addressing the evaluative aspects of the question such as ‘How far?’ or ‘To what extent?’
Have a ‘Plan’
- Constructing a plan is important because it helps you think about the question and how to answer it. You will need to think about what is relevant, what to leave out and the order in which you are going to answer the question. It also gives you an overview of your answer which you can constantly refer to when writing out your final draft. The plan will help to keep you focused.
- A blank sheet of paper is often terrifying and the first sentence of an answer is often the hardest part to complete. Producing a plan can help you get over this. To get started you could generate ideas (on separate bits of paper) and then begin to organise your ideas to create a kind of map. An outline of the overall shape of the answer should then emerge.
- Introduction – You should briefly explain how you plan to answer the question, and state what your overall argument/point of view is. There is no need to describe the content background/context.
- Main body of answer – every paragraph should directly address the question and should take the argument further. There should be a logical development from one paragraph to another. There should be an overall clear structure and organisation.
- Conclusion – this should grow out of and follow on from the argument and analysis in the main part of the answer. A direct answer to the question should be given and this needs to be substantiated and argued if this has not been done earlier in the answer.
- I am within the 2000 words
- I answered the question
- My final answer to the main issue in the question is clear, developed and fully supported? Is each paragraph used for a new idea, aspect or argument?
- Each paragraph addresses the question - and 'does some work in answering the question'.
- The paragraphs logically flow from one to the other.
- There are no lengthy sections of description or narrative or anything irrelevant.
- I have checked sentence construction, grammar, punctuation and spelling.
- Completed coursework must be entirely your own work. You should not collaborate with other learners, nor should you receive help from other individuals. You will be disqualified if this is not the case.
- Anything included in the work that is not the your own work, e.g. quotations and copied or paraphrased material, must be fully acknowledged. This can be done within the text of the answer or in footnotes.
- Once coursework has been assessed by the teacher, you are not allowed to repeat the question or redraft your work.
- Your teacher cannot comment on work in progress, nor can work in progress or a first draft be handed to the teacher for feedback.