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Advice For Controlled Assessment


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#1 Cyfer

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Posted 07 September 2011 - 08:46 PM

Hello,

Soon (~13 weeks) I will be doing a controlled assessment on Russia (1905-1941).

The controlled assessment consists of 8 hours of writing on a single question.

Before the controlled assessment the teacher is allowed to give us 4 weeks of lessons (learning about Russia) and 6 weeks of essays/advice on structure.

We are allowed to create a file for the first 10 weeks of preparation which can contain any of our previous essays/preparations/textbook photocopies/quotes etc

During the controlled assessment we will be given a source booklet, (our teacher advises against us using other sources)

I was just wondering if anyone could offer any advice. I am a reasonably fast writer on the computer (2 pages in ~35mins) however I have great difficulty maintaining this speed unless I specifically have knowledge of what to write prior to the writing, for example when writing an essay from scratch I take about 50 minutes to an hour per page, even with preparation having done before (setting out the key ideas for the essay).

Our teacher said that previously people have photocopied pages from textbooks and put them into their file to bring into their exam. I was wondering if anyone here could offer any advice (which is allowed, as long as I am in the preparation period) as to what I could do. As I see it, since it is one long question I can only pray that it is about the lead up to the rise of Bolshevism or one of the revolutions because I am reading 'A People's Tragedy' which I believe would basically provide me with anything I could possibly need in such a case.

Should I just photocopy pages from a textbook? To be honest this sounds extremely lackluster. I am hoping that my teacher will set a rigorous amount of essays during our preparation period so that I will be able to answer any question posed thoroughly. The thought of 8 hours of writing and a minimum of 2000 words just sounds daunting though. Although in practice it is not a lot at all, I am still worried for some obscure reason.

Would you advise on a long essay with lots of references to sources/external things or a very concise essay with a step by step structure.


Could anyone please advise me on credible sources to read about events post 1924 and up to 1941? So, the rise of Stalin, his opposition, the great purges, industrialization, and the lead up to the First World War. After having found out how bad my textbook is (It devoted 5 pages to a topic which spanned +100 pages in 'A Peoples Tragedy') I doubt I'll be able to trust it anymore to give me a detailed explanation and guide to any events.

Lastly, how would one go about learning a structure for an essay on which the topic one does not even know of? Are there any general guides to essay writing in history?

Sorry to ask of so much, and for dragging on about it so much. I guess I am just rather worried as this will consist of 33% of my exam.

#2 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 03:39 PM

I am going to give you a really duff answer on this.

Every school does the Controlled Assessment slightly differently.
My strong advice to you is to speak to your own teacher about exactly how he wants you to do it, and exactly where the marks lie.

Some schools tell the pupils to find their own sources/ some schools give the pupils some sources but let them choose some of their own if they wish/ some schools give the pupild a set of sources and MAKE them use those and no others.

The other thing is to eatch the questio carefully. The danger for you is that you will know so much about the topic that you will spend a huge amount of time writing about what you know, but that it will be irrelevant to the question.

The key is to get hold of the markscheme for each part, and make sure that your answer earns the marks.

As for written versus typed, the advantage of typing is that you can go back and insert text if you have 'another thought'. If you are going to go into the CA with a pre-planned essay, and you prefer writing, however, you may find it better to write it out.

Not much help I fear - except that you now know to approach it carefully and thoughtfully, and not to go charging at it.

#3 Cyfer

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Posted 08 September 2011 - 05:45 PM

I am going to give you a really duff answer on this.

Every school does the Controlled Assessment slightly differently.
My strong advice to you is to speak to your own teacher about exactly how he wants you to do it, and exactly where the marks lie.

Some schools tell the pupils to find their own sources/ some schools give the pupils some sources but let them choose some of their own if they wish/ some schools give the pupild a set of sources and MAKE them use those and no others.

The other thing is to eatch the questio carefully. The danger for you is that you will know so much about the topic that you will spend a huge amount of time writing about what you know, but that it will be irrelevant to the question.

The key is to get hold of the markscheme for each part, and make sure that your answer earns the marks.

As for written versus typed, the advantage of typing is that you can go back and insert text if you have 'another thought'. If you are going to go into the CA with a pre-planned essay, and you prefer writing, however, you may find it better to write it out.

Not much help I fear - except that you now know to approach it carefully and thoughtfully, and not to go charging at it.


Well, I've taken your advice and talked with my teacher. I've found out that my school gives us a source booklet and encourages against using external sources.
I think I've also found out my main weakness and what I need to improve on. A few days ago our teacher set us an essay entitled 'What were the main problems the Tsar faced before 1905?'. I wrote 3 pages (which I was very chuffed about at the time) which I hoped would get me a good mark however whilst talking to my teacher they said that I had lost a large amount of marks because I had not 'jumped through the hoops' a.k.a. I had not written 'one of the problems the Tsar faced before 1905 was...' at the start of every paragraph (which actually rendered one page I wrote about the Tsar's incompetence irrelevant). Knowing that the person that sat next to you gained more marks in one sentence than you did in one page is never a great feeling, I guess.

My teacher also said that because we are allowed to take a file with us - containing anything including photocopied textbooks etc - there are close to no marks in a controlled assessment (only constitutes about 1/8th of the final mark) for knowledge itself.

Mulling this over in my gloomy mind I think I have come to a conclusion of what I should do for the next 2 months. Firstly, I need to stop reading 'A People's Tragedy' as I've just finished reading about the coup d'etat of 1917 and I doubt I could glean any more useful information from it (I believe the rest talks of Lenin? Since his death is where the book ends). I also think I should stop reading textbooks/other sources entirely. I've been thorough about making mental notes from APT and I don't think I could learn anymore.
What I think I should do though is learn essay structure and keep reminding myself of the basics (source-answer the question-reliability of the source) and at the very end add a tiny bit of my own knowledge. After several repetitions from my teacher I finally understand that essay structure is important. Although I have no idea how to learn it. Is it something that comes naturally? Is there a basic plan I can follow?

Thank you for your advice, I will try to find a markscheme as soon as possible.
Sorry for my post. I agree with your last sentence, it was premature whilst I was still confused about what I should do.

Although I know that you believe that I should go to my teacher mostly for the help, I was wondering if you would be able to provide me with any examples of essay structure or any links to where I can learn about it? Or is 'essay structure' simply answering the question?

#4 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 09 September 2011 - 07:58 AM

Firstly, I need to stop reading 'A People's Tragedy' as I've just finished reading about the coup d'etat of 1917 and I doubt I could glean any more useful information from it (I believe the rest talks of Lenin? Since his death is where the book ends). I also think I should stop reading textbooks/other sources entirely. I've been thorough about making mental notes from APT and I don't think I could learn anymore.

There's no need to be gloomy about this. One of the key things about interpreting a source is knowing its context. The more sophisticated your appreciation of the context of the source, the more sophistocated your evaluation of the source - it WILL come out. So there'sno need to stop 'reading round' the subject (which can only do you good) AS LONG AS you keep in mind that the job of your essay will be to address the specific question it asks you, and not simply to share all the knowledge you have accumulated.
I know how you feel - all that 'wated' knowledge (and work to acquire it!). Even when I was at university couldn't stop myself making long digressions and asides in essays! (I was prepared to take the hit on the marks, simply because I was determined to tell the marker this information, whether or not he wanted to know it!!!)

What I think I should do though is learn essay structure and keep reminding myself of the basics (source-answer the question-reliability of the source) and at the very end add a tiny bit of my own knowledge. After several repetitions from my teacher I finally understand that essay structure is important. Although I have no idea how to learn it. Is it something that comes naturally? Is there a basic plan I can follow?

There is no one-size-fits-all 'essay structure' which you learn - there is just a 'best way to answer this question'. Whilst we cannot of course tell you an essay structure to use for your specific essay, we ARE able to discuss with you various approaches to 'that-kind-of-essay'. So what I would suggest is that, when you know what essays you are being asked, we have a chat about essay stuctures. There are a few 'basic types' which can be answered in fairly common-sense approaches.

Sorry for my post.

Don't be sorry - I thought it was a very sensible post. That's what we're here for.

#5 Cyfer

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Posted 11 September 2011 - 12:42 PM

There's no need to be gloomy about this. One of the key things about interpreting a source is knowing its context. The more sophisticated your appreciation of the context of the source, the more sophistocated your evaluation of the source - it WILL come out. So there'sno need to stop 'reading round' the subject (which can only do you good) AS LONG AS you keep in mind that the job of your essay will be to address the specific question it asks you, and not simply to share all the knowledge you have accumulated.
I know how you feel - all that 'wated' knowledge (and work to acquire it!). Even when I was at university couldn't stop myself making long digressions and asides in essays! (I was prepared to take the hit on the marks, simply because I was determined to tell the marker this information, whether or not he wanted to know it!!!)

There is no one-size-fits-all 'essay structure' which you learn - there is just a 'best way to answer this question'. Whilst we cannot of course tell you an essay structure to use for your specific essay, we ARE able to discuss with you various approaches to 'that-kind-of-essay'. So what I would suggest is that, when you know what essays you are being asked, we have a chat about essay stuctures. There are a few 'basic types' which can be answered in fairly common-sense approaches.

Don't be sorry - I thought it was a very sensible post. That's what we're here for.


Thank you for your help.




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