Question 1) Of the four questions, the first is worth the least so spend the least time on it. It is divided into two sections. Usually there is a “Why” question worth three marks. So offer three reasons that answer that WHY question from the document as demanded. You can throw in those little underlined quotes to prove it. Then there usually is a “message” question that often refers to an illustration. If it is an illustration you need to give the overall message (Mao is a good man) but you need to prove it by DESCRIBING the illustration or cartoon. (He is petting a dog and the children around him are all smiling). You can also quote any caption or sentences that are there to reinforce that you understand the message.
Question 2) These are worth 6 marks usually, and they often call for the student to compare and contrast, or to prove something from one source by reference to others. If it is compare and contrast, remind the marker that you are smart and show exactly how the two are the same. (i.e. Same topic, same view of Mao) and how they are different (One hated Mao’s wife, the other was a supporter of both people). If it 0involves several documents, be explicit (“Source A argues…).
Question 3) This is the Origin, Purpose, Value, and Limitation one. You need to do each (OPVL) for each source you are asked to discuss. I recommend doing each one separately (ie. Do OPVL for Source A, then OPVL for Source C). Smart students UNDERLINE or put boxes around each of the terms to ensure they have discussed “The origin of source B is a diary written by a Red Guard in 1967. Its purpose was to record her thoughts about all the events occurring around her at that time. She probably wanted to read it later herself when she got older, or have her family read it, or maybe even have it published some day. Its value is that she was an eyewitness to the events she is describing and people don’t generally lie in to themselves in a diary. But the limitation is that she was only one person so this is just one person’s view. And she was a pretty low level Red Guard and she obviously didn’t have access to important people like Mao. Also, she may have recorded only the good things in case she was arrested later and her diary confiscated.
Question 4) This is worth the most so write the most. I recommend 20-25 minutes. I also say have a quick plan and a three part thesis up top. Opinions differ but I would have a two sentence intro that has an argumentative thesis. Then a paragraph where each and every single source is mentioned and is mined for info that supports the thesis up top. Feel free to bunch up two or more sources if they agree (Both A and C show that Mao was a great leader with A suggesting “he was the best teacher of Marxism….”) Offer brief quotations often to support what you say. Then write a big paragraph that also answers the question posed in 4, and that also supports your thesis up top. Mention things from the books, articles, and movies you have used. Name names, offer dates, numbers, and percentages to prove you really know this stuff. If there is time, write a one sentence conclusion.
Questions to ask yourself to help consider sources 1. What exactly does the document mean? 2. How well situated was the author to observe or record the events in question? 3. When, how, and to whom was the report made? 4. What bias must be accounted for? 5. What specialized information is needed to interpret the source? 6. Do the reported actions seem probable according to the dictates of informed common sense. 7. Is there corroboration testimony?
Tips while Writing 1. Focus on what the question is asking. Use pertinent and appropriate information only. Excessive information will not directly detract from the grade you receive, but it may indirectly detract from your grade because time spent on tangent cannot be reused. 2. Be structured! Outline or mind map your essay at the top of your first page. Be sure you have an introduction and conclusion. Main points fill the body. 3. Write a strong but clear thesis. This should be included at the end of your introduction. A thesis serves the same purpose in an essay that a topic sentence serves in a paragraph. It states the main idea or a generalization or a conclusion. It is the one statement you would make if you could only make one statement about the essay question or topic. 4. Create a strong first paragraph. Start your essay with style and funnel down to your thesis. 5. Each paragraph needs to include a topic sentence that is either a major point in defense of your thesis or a supplement to one. 6. Defend generalizations with specific examples. 7. Don’t editorialize. Your opinions should be backed up with someone’s research. Thoughts and feelings “off the top of your head” usually take away from a history essay. Avoid using first person statements. 8. Show your quality and style in your conclusion. Don’t merely repeat your main points. Add a “clincher” to the end of your paper.