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How do you analyse a source?

Analysing a source is a challenge, particularly when you'll probably be doing this analysing in the stressed environment you'll get in an exam. Though by using the same kind of formula to apply to any source you can find that it is actually very simple.

When looking at a source not much changes from the GCSE level to the current kind of analysis we do here at University. It's all about Content, Context and Significance. These three topics are great 'sections' you should use when analysing any source.

Content is simple - you state what is in the source - you can often pick out quotes if the source is a written piece, or if it is in image you can describe the things you see. This is the most basic part of the 'Magic Three' but it is important to have to showcase your argument before heading into more developed analysis.

Context is next up - this is the first major analysis you'll be doing. Slightly more daunting at first but not if you have a coherent strategy in your mind. Context is: Saying who would accessed the source - was it a publically viewable source, or was it meant to private eyes? What is the political, social and economic situation in the country the source is in the year it was written? Giving context to any source is ESSENTIAL. It showcases your talent in analysing sources but it also gives depth to any argument you are making.

Significance is the last section and is also difficult - such is intellectual analysis! But don't be daunted. Significance simply requires you to look at source in the wider picture, similar to Context, and ascertain if the source had any major impact on the history at that time. By doing this you can attribute value (or take it away) to a source and showcase a serious ability to contextualise a source.

Content. Context. Significance. Simply remember these points and you'll be in a good position to tackle any source.

Luke M. 13 plus  History tutor, GCSE History tutor, A Level History t...

8 months ago

Answered by Luke, who has applied to tutor GCSE History with MyTutor

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Degree: MA Literary Studies (Masters) - Exeter University

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Degree: History (Bachelors) - Exeter University

Subjects offered: History

History

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