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2015 Notes from the Marking Centre – History Extension


This document has been produced for the teachers and candidates of the Stage 6 History Extension course. It contains comments on candidate responses to the 2015 Higher School Certificate examination, highlighting their strengths in particular parts of the examination and indicating where candidates need to improve.
This document should be read along with:

Question 1

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • discussing the key concepts from the source, including the ideas of power and dominant discourses
  • dissecting the source to shape the structure of their answer and presenting a holistic understanding of the source
  • selecting a wide and varied range of other sources and histories, including contemporary debates and issues, rather than just the traditional histories to complement their argument
  • demonstrating a very good understanding of the varied and complex nature of the term histories
  • attempting to make some judgement on the extent to which a neutral and objective History can be created
  • making a clear and supported judgement which was sustained throughout the response.

Candidates need to improve in these areas:

  • engaging with the issues raised in the source, such as discourse, power, ideology and context
  • addressing issues raised throughout the source
  • analysing both neutrality and objectivity
  • supporting their judgements with more relevant contemporary historiographical issues and debates
  • selecting sources which are relevant to the question with greater care, and not using pre-prepared material; for example, Herodotus could be effectively used to answer this question by discussing motive or specific contextual influences rather than providing a biographical narrative
  • integrating a judgement throughout the response
  • beginning paragraphs with key concepts and historiographical issues that they have identified in the source rather than a narrative and/or description about the historian.

Question 2

Candidates showed strength in these areas:

  • responding to the source and the question holistically
  • understanding the difference between History and historiography
  • responding appropriately to the exam question by engaging with the directive term
  • challenging the source; for example, looking at how factors other than societal values influence changing interpretations, such as archival evidence being released under the Official Secrets Act , methodology, archaeological digs
  • demonstrating extensive knowledge of the chosen areas of debate within the case study; for example, the relationship between the societal values of the time during which the historian wrote and linking this to how it influenced their writing, or citing what society was prepared to accept at a particular time.

Candidates can improve in these areas:

  • engaging with all aspects of the Source, from the idea of the past being fixed, to the influence societal values have on the changing interpretations, rather than engaging with only one phrase or single words
  • developing a more nuanced approach which demonstrates reasoned and logical judgements, by showing the link between what societal values were at the time of the historian writing, and whether this influenced the historian’s perspective
  • moving away from the prepared responses which mainly describe changing interpretations of areas of debate as this question was not limited to the historian’s personal context
  • discriminating between broader societal contexts and personal values of the historian
  • sustaining the integration of the Source throughout the response, and not just in the introduction and conclusion.


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