BlogStudyHow to Write a Killer History Essay Plan in 5 Steps!

How to Write a Killer History Essay Plan in 5 Steps!

Wasting time trying to figure out the perfect structure for your history essay?

Well the history essay plan queen, Calypso has arrived!

Read on to see how our MVP tutor writes a killer essay plan for history subjects you can use over and over!

Step 1: Know your stuff
Step 2: Analyse the question
Step 3: Write down your evidence
Step 4: Organise and link your paragraphs
Step 5: Write and repeat

Step 1: Know your stuff

To make the most effective use of your time, you should know what you’re talking about before attempting essay plans.

As we know History has a lot of content and your knowledge of it is integral to your success!

For History, this would be your sources, dates and context.

Find out how to analyse History Sources here!

Basically, if you plan on including something in your essay – you should already be able to freely talk about it when asked.

While it can be tempting to get right into it, the process will be much faster without you having to search through your notes for the details you want to include.

If you’re finding it hard to write essay plans, it’s likely because you still don’t have your content down pat so have a look over your notes!

The syllabus can be a great guide if you’re not quite sure what exactly you don’t know, particularly for history!

Download the Modern History syllabus!

Download the Ancient History syllabus!

By your final term, however, this method should be perfect as you’ve already learnt all your content and can then smash these out!


Not quite sure where to find said stuff?

Calypso recommends having a look at your state library’s databases online – doing so helped her get those top marks!

This is completely free, just sign up and make an account!

Other personal favourites of Calypso include:

Step 2: Analyse the question

Each essay plan should be tailored to the question.

This is why it’s important you have an extensive bank of general knowledge before you begin!

Check out the 2019 HSC paper for Modern History here!

Check out the 2019 HSC paper for Ancient History here!

Determine your stance

Do you agree, disagree or are you somewhere in the middle?

This choice should be almost immediate, but if not pick quick and stick with it!

You should generally be choosing what you have the most evidence for.

Write it down somewhere! In exams, you can write it on your question sheet or on the side of the page.

Identify the keywords

What directive verbs are being used?

Calypso would identify keywords and then define them – you must know the directive verbs that will be used in any and every exam!

These words are meant to give you direction and hint at what evidence you are supposed to provide!

NESA’s official glossary can be found here

Memorise this and you’ll be good to go!

All essay questions will have a directive verb and relate to a syllabus point.

By identifying and understanding these keywords you should have a point of reference that will be able to link all your info.

In History, it can be helpful to identify the who, what, when and where’s.

2019 HSC Modern History Question

For example:

Who – Australian Society

What – impact of political responses

When – Great Depression

Where – Australia

Although this can seem redundant by categorising these you’re able to contextualise the way you are meant to talk about these keywords! 

Step 3: Write down your evidence

So now you know what the question is asking, the next step in your history essay plan is to write down everything you think you’ll need.

For history, this will generally be quotes, dates, sources and names!

Whatever they are, write them down ASAP!

See how much evidence you can list in 2 minutes as that’s probably all you can afford!

If you’re not getting it down quick enough, try some memorisation techniques below!

Modern History here!

Ancient History here!

The point of an essay plan is to write down everything you can’t just make up on the spot.

You should be able to reuse this information for every essay.

Calypso promises history hasn’t changed – so if you know, you know.

Instead of trying to memorise a million things just in case, practice making essay plans for different questions and then filling in the gaps then!

Step 4: Organise and link your paragraphs

Now we can get to paragraphs!

Decide how many you want and what you want the general focus to be.

Calypso’s History hack!

If you’re writing your essay and not sure quite how to categorise your paragraphs, Calypso is positive you can fit them into any of the following categories.

It’s called PERMS.

Another potential topic is technology!

Try to figure out how they’ll flow and link to then create your order.

Step 5: Write and repeat

The way to get better at these history essay plans is to simply use them and see how you go.

Once you’ve made them, be sure to actually attempt to write that essay!

If it’s still difficult for you to write with the plan, identify what else you might’ve needed and include it for next time.

Maybe you were missing some direction or details you think could’ve been really valuable, go find them!

Test your essay plans out with some practice questions here!


Notice how we haven’t told you to write any sentences?

That’s because you don’t need to!

Calypso strongly advises against memorising introductions, conclusions and analyses.

Without a structure already in place, you will be able to directly address and adapt your essays and meet that Band 6 criteria!

And those are Calypso’s tips to make essay writing for history a breeze! Good luck!

Looking for some extra help with your History essay?

We have an incredible team of HSC tutors and mentors like Calypso who are new HSC syllabus experts!

We can help you master your HSC History content and ace your upcoming assessments with personalised lessons conducted one-on-one in your home or at our state of the art campus in Hornsby!

We’ve supported over 6,000 students over the last 11 years, and on average our students score mark improvements of over 19%!

To find out more and get started with an inspirational HSC tutor and mentor, get in touch today or give us a ring on 1300 267 888!

Gabrielle Wong is currently the Digital Marketing Assistant at Art of Smart. She is a second year student at the University of Sydney studying a Bachelor of Arts/Advanced Studies majoring in Media and Communications and Marketing.

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