Papers 2 and 3 are essay based. Here are some hints for excelling on these exams.


General tips for writing good historical essays:


  1. Be sure to answer the question as it is stated. Many students write on the topic being asked, but do not address the question as stated. Pay attention to the command terms. Be sure to define any key terms in your introduction.
  2. It is a given that you will write well (proper grammar, strong thesis statement, PEE, etc). Be straightforward and clear rather than flowery/poetic. Avoid first person.
  3. Have lots of specific relevant factual information (down to the level of specific terms – names of individuals, specific events, laws, documents, battles, declarations, statistics, dates, timelines etc). Chronology is important.
  4. Have a complete, logical argument – essays should not be purely descriptive (rather, the factual evidence should be used to back up the argument). It is also very important to bring up counter arguments.
  5. If you can: bring in arguments of respected historians and/or schools of thought.

Links that will help clarify these tips:

How to attack the essay (includes rubric)
Addressing the question
Command Terms
PEE structure
Challenging the question
Essay skeleton exercise

Info on paper 2 and 3 (the essay based components):


Paper 2 (25% of your IB grade) is based on world history, and there are 5 topics. There are 6 questions per topic (30 questions in total). You must write 2 essays, and they must be from different topics. You have 90 minutes to complete this exam. We have not, and should not, prepare for every topic. Rather, we will cover topics 1 and 3 in depth, and touch on some others in varying degrees. You may click on the links to read the details on the topics that are relevant to us.
  1. Causes, practices and effects of wars
  2. Democratic states - challenges and responses
  3. Origins and developments of authoritarian and single-party states
  4. Nationalist and independence movements in Africa and Asia and post-1945 Central and Eastern European states
  5. The Cold War

Paper 3 (35% of your IB grade) is based on the history of the Americas. You may choose and 3 questions to write on. You have 2 hours and 30 minutes to complete this exam.

Sample paper 2
Sample paper 3

Student Examples


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