The Cambridge A Level History course is divided into two parts – in Year 12 students study European History and in Year 13 the History of the United States. It is usual practice in the school for students to sit for the AS History exam at the end of year 12 and the A2 exam at the end of year 13.
The A Level grade is determined by the average mark from these exams. Each of the exams is three hours long and students are required to answer four questions in essay form. There is one compulsory question on each paper which calls for the students to evaluate the reliability and usefulness of Historical sources.
Therefore good essay writing skills and command of language are an obvious advantage in studying History at this level. More important, however, is a real interest in the subject matter and the processes at work. Although there is a good deal of factual material to be covered and learned, it is important to realise that regurgitation of facts is not what is required at this level – but rather the ability to select relevant information and deploy it effectively to present a well balanced response to a given question. The highest grades go to those students who are able to show good analytical skills and awareness of the relative importance of issues and events.
History is not only an interesting and important subject to study in its own right, but the skills and knowledge gained are useful in other areas and walks of life. In particular, History provides a valuable base for pursuing further studies in many of the Social / Economic and Political Sciences as well as the Arts.