What is a useful approach while analyzing an HL Contemporary History essay question?


What I like to do first is to analyze the essay question, what they are asking for and how you should write down the information needed. After I have done this, I like to use what I call the “Iceberg Method”. Why iceberg? Because you start with what you can see, which is the smallest part. In historical terms, that would be the concept, the event and the action/process. Then you proceed to the less evident, the larger concepts and the more complicated aspects. This would be the reasons behind a specific event or idea in historical terms, eg. ideology, economy, geopolitics etc.


What role did militarism play in the development of WWI?

Breakdown the question:

What role = how important was this concept

Militarism = the main concept within the essay

Development = approach the question via historical events surrounding the concept

WWI = when/where the concept takes place

Brainstorm using the Iceberg Method:

What is evident = First explain the concept of militarism, state the definition – the culture of arms and military in the country. Amy bigger and center point in Europe and a bigger sense of nationalism.

Nationalism, Weltpolitic, Arms Race

What is less evident – Ideology, the creation of nations, supremacy.

What is least evident – To fuel militarism you need a strong economy – industrialism and imperialism

The outline:


Thesis statement – Militarism played a major role in causing the outbreak of WWI due to the Weltpolitik in Germany, the arms race between powers, and a growing sense of nationalism by the end of the 19th century in Europe.

Para 1 German Weltpolitik and Nationalism

Topic sentence – German Weltpolitik was a major policy in the 1890s up to the breakout of the war in 1914. The concept of Weltpolitik was based on taking aggressive means in order to make Germany powerful and rise beyond other European superpowers by means of colonization and unifying all German speakers

Para 2 Arms Race

Topic sentence – The arms race between the great powers was not only a result of Weltpolitik in Germany but also the industrialization of Britain and its effect on nations like Russia and France

Para 3 Imperialism

Topic sentence - Another factor behind the outbreak of WWI could also have been imperialism.


The German ideology of wanting to be a superpower caused rivalries and many crises among competing powers.

Esmeralda L. IB English tutor, IB Biology tutor, IB English and World...

8 months ago

Answered by Esmeralda, an IB History tutor with MyTutor

Still stuck? Get one-to-one help from a personally interviewed subject specialist


Isaac H. GCSE Maths tutor, GCSE History tutor, IB History tutor, GCSE...
View profile
£20 /hr

Isaac H.

Degree: International Relations (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: History, Maths+ 1 more


“I have been tutoring professionally now for over a year. I am incredibly passionate about my students and have a genuine desire to see them succeed in their exams. I will put every minute of the lesson towards this goal. A survivor of...”

PremiumJack Robert C. GCSE English tutor, GCSE History tutor, A Level Histor...
View profile
£22 /hr

Jack Robert C.

Degree: Masters of Letters in Intellectual History (Masters) - St. Andrews Unversity University

Subjects offered: History, Politics+ 2 more


“The beckoning of an authentic life shattered my soul around the age of twelve, falling into anabyss where the light of Philosophy and study of the academic disciplines redeemed my existence and became my redemption. I am now happy in ...”

PremiumShani T. GCSE English Literature tutor, A Level History tutor, A Leve...
View profile
£24 /hr

Shani T.

Degree: History and English Literature (Masters) - Glasgow University

Subjects offered: History, English and World Literature+ 4 more

English and World Literature
English Literature
English Language
-Personal Statements-

“I am a first-year student currently studying English Literature, History and Politics at the University of Glasgow, working towards a Masters in History.English Literature and History are both huge passions of mine, both being subjec...”

About the author

PremiumEsmeralda L. IB English tutor, IB Biology tutor, IB English and World...
View profile

Esmeralda L.

Currently unavailable: for regular students

Degree: PhD Visiting Scholar/PhD Research Degree in Egyptology (Research) - Durham University

Subjects offered: History, Religious Studies+ 4 more

Religious Studies
-Personal Statements-

“About Me: My name  is Esmeralda Lundius but my friends call me Esme. I am half Swedish and half Dominican but have resided many years in Rome and the UK. My international background has allowed me to explore what the world has to offer...”

MyTutor guarantee

You may also like...

Posts by Esmeralda

How can I better understand the developments leading to the the Russian Revolution?

What caused the famous split between Sunni and Shia in Islam?

What is a good way of analysing and interpreting a passage presented at an HL English Oral Exam?

What is a useful approach while analyzing an HL Contemporary History essay question?

Other IB History questions

Why was it Stalin, and not Trotsky, who succeeded Lenin?

Assess the role of each of the following in causing the First World War (1914–1918): the desire for revenge; economic motives; Balkan nationalism.

The Cold War: Analyse the part played by Cuba in the development of the Cold War

Did Gorbachev’s policies of ‘Glasnost’ and ‘Perestroika’ catalyse the downfall of the USSR?

View IB History tutors


We use cookies to improve our service. By continuing to use this website, we'll assume that you're OK with this. Dismiss