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What is the difference between the exam technique for an "outline" or "state" question and an "explain" or "discuss" question?

A "state", "describe" or "outline" question is not looking for analysis or explanation, merely accrate and relevant knowledge. The question will likely be a 4-marker and look something like this:

Describe the key features of life for Women in the Soviet Union between the years 1929-38. (6 marks)

For this question, you are required to know 2 or 3 key features and back up your knowledge with one peice of evidence per feature. One feature might be that women were less constricted by their husbands and children than was traditionally the case in Tsarist Russia. The evidence for this feature will be that new divorce laws were introduced in the early 1930s to make divorce easier and free childcare was provided for children until they were old enough to go to school.

However, an "explain" or "discuss" question requires more analysis. The examiner is still looking for relevant, accurate knowledge backed up by evidence, however now there they are expecting a deeper understanding and for an explanation more than just a statement. To get top marks in an explain question the key is to link together your statements.

Imagine the question was now: Explain the effects of the Soviet regime on the lives of Women between the years 1929-38. (8 marks)

Here, our knowledge about divorce and childcare is still relevant evidence for the increased freedom that women had, but we will now go further to explain why this was the case. The reason for this increased freedom is two-fold: 1) the anti-family stance that the commnist party took (they wanted people to be more loyal to the state than to their husbands and wives; and 2) the need for more workers in the factories. This explanation will let you reach the top level in the markscheme, and to get top marks we must link our second effect - perhaps the increase in the education of women shown by the increased literacy rates - to our first, explaining how these effects all stem from Stalin's plans to speed up the industrialisation of the USSR and educating women in fields such as engineering would make them more valuable in factories.

Answered by Patrick H. History tutor

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Answered by Patrick H.
History tutor

2592 Views

See similar History GCSE tutors
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