how to write a history essay

How To Write a History Essay

To make it easier for us to distinguish an essay from other genres, we will highlight its main features.

General Key Points About Writing an Essay

  • You should write this type of paper using academic language, but without complicating the text with scientific terms.
  • The problem indicated in the topic should be looked upon in as much detail as possible and from different angles. Be sure to provide arguments.
  • An essay is a fairly short genre, on average it takes 3-5 pages.
  • Therefore, a detailed consideration of the issue here does not mean that you need to write a lot to prove your thoughts.
  • The essay has no clear structure, it may vary. But in order for the text to look logical, the standard composition should be as follows: the text begins with the introduction, then comes a series of opinions and arguments connected with each other, and it ends with a small general conclusion.

The Definition of a History Essay

A history essay is a paper with free composition, relatively small volume where the students express their thoughts and impressions regarding a specific historical event or issue. This paper can't be considered a research work of any kind as the student expresses his personal view on a subject. Key points in distinguishing this type of essay from other papers:

  • analysis of a specific historical topic or question; paper that analyzes many historical  problems at a time, can't be considered as an essay;
  • an essay expresses individual impressions and thoughts on a specific event or a historical figure and can't be a definitive interpretation of the subject in any way;
  • an essay features a new idea on a chosen topic;
  • a personal opinion of the author is a key point in this type of paper; the author expresses his personal thoughts and feelings regarding the topic he's working on.

Why Essay on History is Different From Other Academic Papers

Regardless of the subject, any essay teaches you to think critically, find facts to explain complex and controversial issues and characterize events. While creating your essay on history, you should reflect on controversial topics, analyze the historical figures or understand what caused a particular historical event you choose.

Such a creative task helps students understand how well they know the subject and whether they can pick and analyze the material and express their opinions about it.

History is not an easy subject. Students should analyze a lot of data before expressing their thoughts about it.

How to Choose a Historical Period for Your Paper

This is the first thing you should do since the final result depends on the right choice of the topic. To understand how an essay on history should be written, we'll discuss different types of history essays.

Two Types of Essays in History

  • essay based on a statement. A simple option for a majority of students. Reveal the essence of the author's statement regarding any topic and write what you think on this issue;
  • analysis of a specific historical period. You choose from the suggested periods the more understandable one and describe it in detail.

The Role of Historical Facts

Be careful because facts can be historical or pseudo-historical. The difference is that historical facts are objective, fixed in time and space. The pseudo-historical facts are just opinions or some questionable theories.

When starting the selection of factual material, do not just describe the events, but try to write about the connection of these events. It will help you characterize the selected topic better and clearer.

How to Analyze a Historical Event?

An example of a correct essay on history is an essay with an objective and detailed assessment of the material. This means that you give at least more than 2 points of view and versions of the event.

You will receive good feedback if your teacher sees that the question is deeply disclosed, and the thoughts have reasoning. Dig into your memory and try to find data and facts to support your thoughts.

How to Characterize a Historical Figure

If you think it will be enough to simply retell what that person has achieved, you’re wrong. You must describe the role of this person at a specific time and the significance of what he has done.

Among other things, the history essay that describes the moral characterization of the historical persona is well appreciated among teachers.

The Role of Arguments in An Essay

You should explain your thoughts and opinions while writing your paper. Some events caused others, and describing a chain of historical events in your essay is necessary. It is important that anyone who reads your paper should be able to follow the story and understand what caused what and why some events are related. This is a serious mental activity for a student.

While working on your paper, you need to take into account the chronology and everything that relates to the chosen period. You should create a logical chain of events in your head, connect one with the other and describe a full picture you've created.

Common Mistakes To Avoid

  • Do not confuse primary and secondary causes of events;
  • Do not describe the fact instead of revealing what has caused it;
  • Descriptions of a fact without establishing a causal relationship.

History Essay Topic Ideas

  • Forgotten civilizations that have made a significant contribution to world history
  • What internal factors cause the fall of Byzantium
  • The role of the last emperor in the fall of ancient Rome
  • Ancient civilizations: what can you learn from their history
  • Why did the first democratic regimes emerge in a Greek polis?
  • What phenomenon can be associated with the beginning of the Middle Ages?
  • Essay on an ancient Egypt religion

Main Points on How To Write a History Essay 

  • make a short description of the period you are considering highlighting key points;
  • fully disclose the first significant fact, revealing its causes and effects, show which person is connected to it and how;
  • disclose the second significant fact according to the scenario you planned;
  • disclose the next significant fact if there are more than two of them in the text;
  • make a conclusion regarding the topic of your paper.

Historical Period: Essay Plan

  • Briefly describe the historical period by mentioning its key points.
  • Reveal the first significant event that happened during this period. It is necessary to mention the causes and consequences of this event and indicate the person associated with the event and how specifically.
  • To reveal the second significant event that happened in this period. Important to talk about the causes and consequences of this second event and mention people associated with it and in what way.
  • Assess the significance of this period for the historical process.

Historical Figure: Essay Plan

  • Briefly introduce a historical figure, mentioning some biography facts.
  • Describe the main events where this figure participated and what impact this person made.
  • Analyze the influence of this historical figure on the history of a specific period.

How To Write a History Essay: Structure

One paragraph is enough for a history essay introduction. Use attention traps such as quotes, questions, unusual facts in the first part of your paper. There is no need for the main point in the first sentence. But it should lead to it or somehow be related to the main idea of your essay.

The main part of the paper can be as long as a few paragraphs. Express your main idea in this part. Support this idea with facts, thoughts, vivid descriptions, quotes, or other information that proves your point.

How to write a history essay conclusion - express your views on the problem. State your main point in one paragraph.

Step By Step Guide on How to Write a History Essay

Clarify what you should write about, create a plan that you will follow with your paper. To create an essay plan - determine the desired scope and purpose of each component. Formulate your thoughts and ideas and write your essay in draft form.

Start your paper with the main idea and develop it as you follow. The goal is to grab the reader's attention immediately. You may use a comparison, unexpected fact, or event that is associated with the essay's main topic.

Highlight a key idea and define your position about it. Determine what concepts, theories, terms will help you reveal the essence of the paper and your position.

Your position may vary. On the other hand, you still need to have a position - the worst that can happen is a neutral position. You write an essay to show how well you can defend your position. Often, to prove your point, you need to give examples using literature or some historical facts. In other words, your opinion must be supported by certain facts. In a good history essay, there are usually three or more arguments supported by facts.

Mistakes To Avoid While Writing Your History Essay

  • When the introduction is too long. Formulating the urgency of the problem, the author overuses details and unnecessary descriptions.
  • Lack of examples. The fresh and original thoughts expressed in the essay will not be remembered if they are not supported by vivid illustrations or arguments.
  • Use of clichés and uninformative phrases.
  • The ambiguity of phrases. It's not enough to check spelling and punctuation. Pay special attention to the wording, the construction of sentences. Avoid inaccuracies or misreadings.
  • Verbosity. Avoid insignificant ideas or themes in favor of brighter, more significant, and new thoughts. Do not get bogged down in unnecessary explanations and make sure that each new thesis complements, but does not repeat the previous one.
  • Long and complex sentences. The length of the phrase does not indicate the correctness and intelligence of the essay's author. Bulky sentences are difficult to read and understand. Therefore, alternate short and long phrases in your presentation. Read what you have written aloud to spot any inconsistencies. If your breathing does not go astray, then the text is perfect for reading.
  • Wrong use of scientific terms and encyclopedic concepts. If we're talking about how to write a history essay, you should know that this type of essay is not a scientific paper, but a reflection on the matter. Therefore, try to describe and convey even complex concepts and phenomena in simple words. Thus, avoid confusion in the use of terms. A good essay is always a result of hard work that requires creativity and mental strain. The author reveals his worldview, demonstrates the peculiarities of thinking, literacy, and his intellectual level through his paper. Before you sit down to write your essay, prepare and study all the data you need.


How do You Write a High School History Essay?

In order to write a high school history essay for school, you must choose the topic that will be easiest for you to write about. Also, before writing an essay, you should create a structure of your paper. 

You need to know that basic structure of a history essay consists of:

  • - introduction;
  • - the main part, which consists of theses and argumentation;
  • -conclusions.

How do You Write an Introduction for a History Essay?

In the introduction for the history essay, you can write an overview of the historical topic you will be looking at. You can also start your paper by explaining important history terminology or some facts on the topic. But remember that an essay is not a research paper, but is your reflection on a topic. Even the history essay introduction doesn't have strict rules.

What is an Historical Essay?

A historical essay is a paper in which a student examines certain aspects of a history or analyzes a historical figure from a specific point of view. The essence of a historical essay is to express your opinion and describe your thinking process on any historical topic supporting your point of view with arguments and evidence.

The structure of such an essay follows the same pattern as the structure of any essay: introduction, main part and conclusion. It should be clear that in the main part of the paper, the student must write an essay according to the principle - thesis - and its argumentation.

How do You Write a Topic Sentence for a History Essay?

In order to formulate the topic sentence for a history essay, you should recollect all the arguments that you gave supporting the question. In order to formulate a topic sentence, you should collect all the arguments in one sentence and formulate a general conclusion.