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Essay Help On Ocr F961: Post-War Britain 1951-94


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#1 wonderstruck

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 12:09 AM

Hello,
I was wondering if anyone you help me with the essay structure/answering a question on OCR post war britain (51-94). I don't know how to not be "assertive", how to link properly or how to structure an essay properly. I've previously read mark schemes, so I understand the necessity of being "evaluative" and the importance of "analysis". However I'm afraid I don't know how to bring it into my essay. I'm aiming for an A grade (as absurb as that sounds from what I've just said). However I would be very grateful for any help. Thanks in advance.

#2 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 09:32 AM

You sound a bit down about this - is it in response to negative feedback by your teacher?
Anyway - first thoughts:

I don't know how to not be "assertive"

This is the comment that puzzled me most. I would have thought an 'assertive' essay was a good thing! I'm wondering if the problem is that you are simply offering strong opinions without adequately backing them up with facts and explanation.
Anyway, a good essay will be structured in such a way that, by the end, you can write: 'Therefore...', followed by your final conclusion/solution, and nobody reading it has any leeway to disagree because - as far as is possible - you have proved your case.

I don't know how to link properly.

This is easily done. Have you heard of 'PEE every paragraph'? It's where teachers teach their pupils that every paragraph should contain a point-which-answers-the-question, some evidence and explanation-of-how-the-point-answers-the-question. Personally, I prefer PDF (point-development-facts) but it's all the same.
So let's say that I've been asked a question which requires me to give the causes of WWI. One paragraph will address the 'system of alliances' (which is the 'point'), and I will give some facts about the triple alliance, triple entente etc. ... and then I will explain how the system-of-alliances helped to bring about a war.
'Links' come into the explanation part (so some teachers teach PEEL - point-evidence-explanation-links). It's simply where, as part of your explanation showing how the system-of-alliances had all these ways in which it helped to ratchet up the tension and make a war much easier and more likely, you ALSO point out that affected (had links to) other things (other 'points') which were instrumental in causing war - for instance you might show how it nuanced nationalism in such-and-such a way, enouraged militarism and impacted on imperialism etc. ... and thereby helped cause war through these other factors.
This cross-referencing holds your essay together, and proves that you planned it as a whole before you started!
Just remember that you are not making links for links' sake - you are showing how the factor 'worked' to [in this case cause a war] in association with/by influencing other factors you are citing.

I don't know how to structure an essay properly.

This is difficult, because different essays need different structures. Also you can choose different approaches just to be different - 'essay structure' is merely the way you choose to work through the content and ideas in such a way as to end up with your conclusion/solution.
Having said that, most essays at A-level are 'debate' essays, which throw up a question and ask you to weigh possibilities, and for that a 'dialectic' structure works well:
Thesis - antithesis - synthesis - thus you write your essay in three sections:
1. A first section in which you consider/evaluate the core idea
2. A second section in which you consider/evaluate the alternatives
3. A conclusion/solution where you weigh the two a make your judgement
The key - and I suppose this links (haha) to the point about assertive is that you need to be objective/analytical in sections 1 and 2 (because you are just surveying the possibilities/points) and that you only move to 'assertion' in the final section.

I don't know I've previously read mark schemes, so I understand the necessity of being "evaluative" and the importance of "analysis". However I'm afraid I don't know how to bring it into my essay.

These aren't things youcan 'do' - they are just what your essay is doing if you are doing what I say above.

What I suggest, if this is all too theoretical/woolly, is that the next time your teacher gives you an essay, before you start, come onto the forum, tell us the title, and we'll talk about how you might structure/develop that specific essay.

#3 wonderstruck

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Posted 09 May 2012 - 04:07 PM

You sound a bit down about this - is it in response to negative feedback by your teacher?
Anyway - first thoughts:


I don't know how to not be "assertive"

This is the comment that puzzled me most. I would have thought an 'assertive' essay was a good thing! I'm wondering if the problem is that you are simply offering strong opinions without adequately backing them up with facts and explanation.
Anyway, a good essay will be structured in such a way that, by the end, you can write: 'Therefore...', followed by your final conclusion/solution, and nobody reading it has any leeway to disagree because - as far as is possible - you have proved your case.

I don't know how to link properly.

This is easily done. Have you heard of 'PEE every paragraph'? It's where teachers teach their pupils that every paragraph should contain a point-which-answers-the-question, some evidence and explanation-of-how-the-point-answers-the-question. Personally, I prefer PDF (point-development-facts) but it's all the same.
So let's say that I've been asked a question which requires me to give the causes of WWI. One paragraph will address the 'system of alliances' (which is the 'point'), and I will give some facts about the triple alliance, triple entente etc. ... and then I will explain how the system-of-alliances helped to bring about a war.
'Links' come into the explanation part (so some teachers teach PEEL - point-evidence-explanation-links). It's simply where, as part of your explanation showing how the system-of-alliances had all these ways in which it helped to ratchet up the tension and make a war much easier and more likely, you ALSO point out that affected (had links to) other things (other 'points') which were instrumental in causing war - for instance you might show how it nuanced nationalism in such-and-such a way, enouraged militarism and impacted on imperialism etc. ... and thereby helped cause war through these other factors.
This cross-referencing holds your essay together, and proves that you planned it as a whole before you started!
Just remember that you are not making links for links' sake - you are showing how the factor 'worked' to [in this case cause a war] in association with/by influencing other factors you are citing.

I don't know how to structure an essay properly.

This is difficult, because different essays need different structures. Also you can choose different approaches just to be different - 'essay structure' is merely the way you choose to work through the content and ideas in such a way as to end up with your conclusion/solution.
Having said that, most essays at A-level are 'debate' essays, which throw up a question and ask you to weigh possibilities, and for that a 'dialectic' structure works well:
Thesis - antithesis - synthesis - thus you write your essay in three sections:
1. A first section in which you consider/evaluate the core idea
2. A second section in which you consider/evaluate the alternatives
3. A conclusion/solution where you weigh the two a make your judgement
The key - and I suppose this links (haha) to the point about assertive is that you need to be objective/analytical in sections 1 and 2 (because you are just surveying the possibilities/points) and that you only move to 'assertion' in the final section.

I don't know I've previously read mark schemes, so I understand the necessity of being "evaluative" and the importance of "analysis". However I'm afraid I don't know how to bring it into my essay.

These aren't things youcan 'do' - they are just what your essay is doing if you are doing what I say above.

What I suggest, if this is all too theoretical/woolly, is that the next time your teacher gives you an essay, before you start, come onto the forum, tell us the title, and we'll talk about how you might structure/develop that specific essay.


Thank you firstly for your prompt reply. I suddenly started to panic last night. My teacher simply tells us to plan essays that could possibly come up for preparation/revision. Yet I had assumed content would be more important to revise. Sorry this is probably irrelevant.

Yes when I said assertive, I meant drawing judgements which the examiner would probably deem as only an opinion rather than based on valid evidence. I suppose I'm a rather descriptive, then I say "this made the government look unable to handle the situation properly...". Yet I feel as if I'm just saying that and makes presumptions, unless that is what I am meant to do?

So would I describe (or rather, explain) the events such as... The success of Margaret Thatcher's economic policies. Would I go at each turn the different policies (monetarism, deregulation), by describing then explaining why it was either a success or otherwise?

Yes I've heard of Peel. Thank you for explaining the link to me. I've been concentrating on content as opposed to essay structure. Yet I suppose it should come more naturally.

#4 wonderstruck

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:11 AM

Thank you for your reply. I suddenly panicked about it. How can you make links link? Or do you just have to find a way to make them link? Also, I feel sometimes I'm making presumptions when I say "the public disliked them" or whatever.

Also I have this essay question set by my teacher. Could you please suggest how to structure it?

"Callaghan was a more successful Prime Minster than Wilson." How far do you agree?

Thank you.

#5 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 05:27 PM

I have this essay question set by my teacher. Could you please suggest how to structure it?

"Callaghan was a more successful Prime Minster than Wilson." How far do you agree?

Thank you.

This is a straight-down-the-line dialectic essay.
Start with a section about Wilson; start off bny saying something like: 'In the first analysis, it might be assumed that Wilson was the more successful prime minister.'
Start by writing about what might regarded as his successes, firstly describing them, but also evaluating them (judging 'how big' a success each was). Then add a number of paragraphs describing and evaulating his failures to temper the overall impression. Plenty of room for drawing logical and causative links between the different points here. Finish with a judgement of Wilson's success as a prime minister.

The write: 'Against this, we have to measure and assess the success of Callaghan as a prime minister.'
Then repeat for Callaghan.

Finally, write a conclusion. Make sure the first word of your conclusion is 'therefore'.
Measure your assessment of Wilson against your assessment of Callaghan -- if you are clever, you will do this against various criteria where you actually CAN compare their performance (e.g. foreign policy, relations with the unions, economic policy, contol of the Labour Party etc.)
Make sure you finish by making a decision one way or the other -- and the clever way is to find for the UNexpected answer (in this case Callaghan. Make sure that in coming to your conclusion - as well as your weighing of the two sections of your essay - you produce one completely new idea, supported with facts, as the 'defining argument'.

#6 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 05:30 PM

Yes when I said assertive, I meant drawing judgements which the examiner would probably deem as only an opinion rather than based on valid evidence. I suppose I'm a rather descriptive, then I say "this made the government look unable to handle the situation properly...". Yet I feel as if I'm just saying that and makes presumptions, unless that is what I am meant to do?

You could always use weasal phrases such as 'It could therefore easily be argued that...' 'It is beginni ng to appear that...' 'Many historians therefore argue that...'
As long as the generlaisation grows out of and reflects the previous developing argument, you are fine.

So would I describe (or rather, explain) the events such as... The success of Margaret Thatcher's economic policies. Would I go at each turn the different policies (monetarism, deregulation), by describing then explaining why it was either a success or otherwise?

Yes - that is the 'analysis'.

#7 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 05:38 PM

How can you make links link? Or do you just have to find a way to make them link?

Your links to other points should arise naturally as you are developing/explaining each point.
So, for example, let's take an essay on the causes of WWI, where you intend to cite four casuses: nationalism, militarism, imperialism and the system of alliances.
When you were explaining how nationalism helped cause WWI, you would of course explain how it caused hatred of other nations and made them eager to attack each other, and that it made them feel superior and sure they would win any war which happened ('home by Christmas') ... but then you would say that nationalism also lay behind imperialism (because nationalistic peoples imagined they also deserved an empire) and thus it lay behind all those ways in which (you are about to describe) how imperialism helped to cause the war. And also militarism can be linked to nationalism, because a nationalistic nation will want the best army, and to be able to dominate and bully its neighbours, and thus it also contributed via all those ways in which (you are about to describe) how militarism helped to cause the war.

Can you see, how - as you are developing and explaining the point - you are naturally creating logical/causative links to other factors ... always remembering to stay relevant to the asked questions (which is, in this case, why did WWI break out).

#8 wonderstruck

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 05:59 PM


I have this essay question set by my teacher. Could you please suggest how to structure it?

"Callaghan was a more successful Prime Minster than Wilson." How far do you agree?

Thank you.

This is a straight-down-the-line dialectic essay.
Start with a section about Wilson; start off bny saying something like: 'In the first analysis, it might be assumed that Wilson was the more successful prime minister.'
Start by writing about what might regarded as his successes, firstly describing them, but also evaluating them (judging 'how big' a success each was). Then add a number of paragraphs describing and evaulating his failures to temper the overall impression. Plenty of room for drawing logical and causative links between the different points here. Finish with a judgement of Wilson's success as a prime minister.

The write: 'Against this, we have to measure and assess the success of Callaghan as a prime minister.'
Then repeat for Callaghan.

Finally, write a conclusion. Make sure the first word of your conclusion is 'therefore'.
Measure your assessment of Wilson against your assessment of Callaghan -- if you are clever, you will do this against various criteria where you actually CAN compare their performance (e.g. foreign policy, relations with the unions, economic policy, contol of the Labour Party etc.)
Make sure you finish by making a decision one way or the other -- and the clever way is to find for the UNexpected answer (in this case Callaghan. Make sure that in coming to your conclusion - as well as your weighing of the two sections of your essay - you produce one completely new idea, supported with facts, as the 'defining argument'.


Thank you, I understand the structure better now. Could you also start with Callaghan first? Or is it more logical to start with Wilson? Also what if I cannot think of any successes for Callaghan? Since all I can really think of are failures, yet the economic difficulties and strikes was a progressive problem which worsened each year.

What do you mean a completely new idea? As in two arguments that oppose each other?

Yes thank you, I see you must link factor as many would fit together (as there is unlikely to be simply one factor).

#9 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:22 PM

Thank you, I understand the structure better now. Could you also start with Callaghan first? Or is it more logical to start with Wilson?

Wilson would make sense chronologically. If you had been asked which was the greater failure, it might have made sense to start with Callaghan because he is the one who one would most reckon the failure, but seeing as it's success, Wilson hits that button as well.

Also what if I cannot think of any successes for Callaghan? Since all I can really think of are failures, yet the economic difficulties and strikes was a progressive problem which worsened each year.

i can think of two ways you could address this.
One might be to think of some really weak 'successes' - e.g. there wasn't a revolution, the pound didn't collapse totally etc.
A better way might be to do Callaghan the other way round. Thus, whereas with Wilson you are starting by assessing his successes and them tempering this with his failure, with Callaghan you could start with his failures ... but then temper them by acknowledging that th was PM at a time of huge and growing problems.

What do you mean a completely new idea? As in two arguments that oppose each other?

Some students (mis)use the conclusion as the time when they just repeat inshort what they have already said in long earlier in the essay. I have never been able to see the point of this. Thus your conclusion HAS to rehearse the points your essay has been making and leading up to, but at some time it has to go on to 'close the deal' and come to a decision. It is this bit which must be NEW material.
During this section of 'closure', you have to explain why you have come down on the side you have chosen to come down on. As always, this involves a point, facts and an explanation - and it must be new.
The easy way to do this, i always tell students, is to hold back a really strong point from earlier in the essay (i.e. don;t use it in either of the first two sections of the essay) ... and then you produce it, like a rabbit out of the hat, as the key 'telling point' that finally helped you to decide which way you would jump.
Thus your conclusion goes something like this:

Therefore, as we have seen, Wilson had his successes (blah-di-blah) admittedly tempered by failures (blah-di-blah) whereas Callaghan had obvious failures (blah-di-blah) with perhaps excuses because he was PM in very difficult circumstances (blah-do-blah). So we might seem to be heading for a conclusion which declares Wilson the success and Callaghan the failure. But for me the most telling point of all was that (point-evidence-development) which leads me to decide [either way].

- where the dull blue is the summary-of-what-I've_already-said bit, and the brightblue bit is the out-of-the-blue bnit of new evidence which EITHER changes all our minds and leads us to choose the unexpected OR absolutely confirms beyond all doubt what we always thought all along.

Yes thank you, I see you must link factor as many would fit together (as there is unlikely to be simply one factor).

Yes.

#10 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 09:23 PM

Thank you, I understand the structure better now. Could you also start with Callaghan first? Or is it more logical to start with Wilson?


I teach Edexcel, not O.C.R. but I tell my students to discuss the 'given factor' first i.e. Callaghan, then Wilson. I'm not sure how crucial it is for this type of essay.

Ah, sorry Mr. Clare, didn't see you there.

Edited by Mr. D. Bryant, 10 May 2012 - 09:24 PM.
Mr. Clare was already answering


#11 wonderstruck

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 11:02 PM

Therefore would that be a pee within a conclusion? Or a mini pee, another fact previously held back to strengthen my opinion?
Thank you.

#12 wonderstruck

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Posted 10 May 2012 - 11:05 PM


Thank you, I understand the structure better now. Could you also start with Callaghan first? Or is it more logical to start with Wilson?


I teach Edexcel, not O.C.R. but I tell my students to discuss the 'given factor' first i.e. Callaghan, then Wilson. I'm not sure how crucial it is for this type of essay.

Ah, sorry Mr. Clare, didn't see you there.


Thank you, yes I usually go for the stronger argument or the person stated.

#13 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 12:41 AM


Thank you, I understand the structure better now. Could you also start with Callaghan first? Or is it more logical to start with Wilson?


I teach Edexcel, not O.C.R. but I tell my students to discuss the 'given factor' first i.e. Callaghan, then Wilson. I'm not sure how crucial it is for this type of essay.

Ah, sorry Mr. Clare, didn't see you there.

No Mr Bryant - this is a really important point.
If it is so, then wonderstruck ought to deal with callaghan first.
Thank you for that intervention ... and apologies if I have misled!

#14 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 12:42 AM

Therefore would that be a pee within a conclusion? Or a mini pee, another fact previously held back to strengthen my opinion?
Thank you.

Yes

#15 wonderstruck

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Posted 11 May 2012 - 06:56 PM


Therefore would that be a pee within a conclusion? Or a mini pee, another fact previously held back to strengthen my opinion?
Thank you.

Yes


Sorry for the constant questions, but I really appreciate your help.
For the links, would it simply be a sentence to finish off? E.g. (following the WW1 causes) Nationalism is also linked with imperialism, because the patriotism the country felt fuelled their desire for colonies... - and extend on to relate it back to how it caused the war.
Also how does one gain an A? As in, is it the links which are most important, argument or a combination?




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