A coursework essay is different from an exams condition essay for two reasons:
1. You are given the flexibility of working in your own time, or essentialy, working in 'non-exam conditions'. While this allows for greater freedom in when and how you write your essay, it also means you must be more effective in your planning, structuring your working more carefully in accordance with your deadline date.
2. Your essay is more driven by your ability to research and deploy sources effectively. Unlike an exams condition essay, your History coursework will require you to research arguments from different Historians and use historical sources to construct your essay.
To plan your essay, you must think about what is required of you, and how much time you need to complete your work, and fine-tune it at a later stage. Think about how much time you will need to research your arguments and make an essay plan, both crucial components to writing a good coursework essay. The better you research and plan, the easier you will find it to write your essay. As a general rule, it is usually best to spend approximately one third to half of your allocated time on research and planning. Always think about your argument and the topic at hand throughout the process, as this will allow you to be more efficient with your research and save you from wasting time on unecessary bits of information.
Researching sources and arguments may be something new to you, given how different it is from an exam essay. The best coursework essays critically use sources and historiographic arguments, supported with the author's own knowledge, in a structured manner. You need to have a loose framework for your essay in mind, to allow you to know which sources are useful and which are not, for the purpose of your essay. After you finish researching sources and arguments, you can use your framework to build a clear essay plan and decide how your themes will flow from one point to the next.
Plan your writing thematically, and with your timeframe in mind. A good way to do this is always to set 'mini-deadlines' to finish writing each theme by a set date. This will ensure that you don't run out of time or overwrite on one particular theme in your essay. Finish by allocating some time before the deadline to read over your essay and fine tune it. This is probably the dullest part of the process, but so important. You will always find points that need to be tweaked and typos to correct, so don't neglect checking your essay before submitting it. Finally, take a break, and then read over your finished piece of work with a fresh mind, to see how it flows and if there are any final tweaks to be made.
Writing coursework essays as an A level is a new, exciting and sometimes terrifying prospect. But getting it right at this stage will be unbelievable helpful for work at university (even if you aren't studying History). So take care, and plan carefully!
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