Complete History Essay Writing Guide With Expert Tips From the EssayWriters Team

Liza M.
Publication date:
August 31, 2023, history essay, history essay writing guide,

Writing essays is never easy. Although this task is very common, students have always struggled with it, especially when the subject of the paper is challenging, like history.

If you are assigned to craft a history essay, we have you covered. Read on, and expert writers will tell you how to write a history essay and get a high grade.

What Is a History Essay?

Before we can give you actionable tips, let’s get clear on the assignment definition first.

So, what is history essay? It is a short, structured piece of academic writing on a historical topic. It can vary in length depending on the given guidelines but follows the same structure as other essays and consists of three parts ‒ an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. 

The primary purpose of a history essay is to formulate and defend a logical argument about a specific question or problem in a historical landscape.

Now that you have a definition, let’s get to specific steps for writing a killer piece.

Step 1: Clarifying the Format and Assignment Guidelines

Before writing, you need to understand the assignment. There are several kinds of history essays that differ in their purpose, so be attentive to detail. 

Most often, you will be asked to deliver a persuasive or analytical essay. The first type implies researching the given topic and writing an essay that persuades the reader of the correctness of your thesis, for instance, answering the question, “Why is history important essay?” through valid facts and arguments. The second type requires you to take a specific historical era, event, persona, or another concept and analyze it in a paper. Both types are not easy to cover.

To understand the task and primary requirements, carefully read your teacher’s guidelines and clarify anything that’s unclear.

Step 2: Picking the Right Topic for Your Paper

If you are lucky, the teacher can ask you to work on a specific topic or give you a list of potential history essay topics that you can elaborate on. If this doesn’t happen, you will need to find a perfect option yourself.

You can start by asking your teacher for any suggestions. They might give you some inspiration for writing and save you some time.

If you want to choose a topic yourself, start by conducting preliminary research. Your goal is to find a topic that offers enough scope for further research and that interests you personally.

Step 3: Preparing a Detailed Essay Outline

When you have a well-defined topic, you can finally get to writing your paper. However, don’t rush to create the draft right away. Instead, take a bit of time to develop a detailed outline that will save you plenty of time and help ensure that you don’t miss something important in your essay.

A history essay outline should look like a detailed paper plan that contains all the primary sections, main points, and supporting arguments. It should look like this:

  1. Introduction
  1. Opening hook (use a quote, question, statistical data, or anything else that will drive readers’ attention)
  2. Topic overview and background information
  3. Thesis statement
  1. Body
  1. Paragraph 1 - Sentence topic representing your core claim, supporting arguments, and a logical transition to the next paragraph
  2. Paragraph 2
  3. Paragraph 3
  1. Conclusion
  1. Brief summary of the key points and arguments
  2. Restated thesis
  3. Food for thought or suggestion for further research

Create an outline following this template and move on to the next step.

Step 4: Writing the First Draft + Tips on How to Start a History Essay

Once you have an outline, you can start drafting your paper. If you created a solid plan, this stage shouldn’t be complicated because all you need is to follow the plan and turn its sections into full-fledged paragraphs. At this stage, don’t attempt to do everything perfectly. Your task is to make a general draft of your paper that will be edited later.

Now, how to begin a history essay, you may wonder? Writing an introduction might be the hardest part of the drafting process. After all, it’s an introduction that will make the first impression on the reader. So here are a few tips to help you handle your intro:

  • Kick it off with something that sparks interest;
  • Give the general idea of the essay topic, but don’t give off everything right away;
  • State a thesis clearly and logically;
  • Consider writing your intro when other parts are already finished.

Step 5: Proofreading and Editing

Typically, the first draft of a paper looks raw and unfinished. That’s why proofreading and editing are pivotal steps in history essay writing.

When your rough draft is finished, take a short break (at least a couple of hours) to rest and distract yourself from writing. When you get back to your paper with a fresh sight, carefully read it multiple times to detect mistakes. Then, edit the paper to eliminate any errors, typos, or deviations from the assignment’s guidelines.

Pro tip: Don’t miss the opportunity to streamline and simplify the editing process with the help of advanced grammar-checking software.

Step 6: Devoting Extra Time to Your Introduction

We already gave you some tips on how to start a history essay. One of the tips was to write the introductory part after the rest of the essay is already written. 

Yet, some students prefer to write the paper in a logical order, starting with the intro. If you are among them, that’s okay. But don’t forget to spend extra time on this section after you finish the task.

Getting back to your intro after editing can help you assess how well it fits into the paper. Analyze your hook, topic overview, and thesis statement to ensure that they are clear, logical, and engaging enough to bring you the highest grade.

Don’t hesitate to rewrite your thesis statement or the entire intro if you feel like it’s not powerful enough. After all, remember that an introduction is a part that can engage your readers to read further. It must be flawless!

What Should You Avoid When Writing a History Essay?

Now you have a detailed 6-step guide to crafting a history essay. But that’s not all you need to achieve success.

There are plenty of things to consider when writing an A-level paper. In this part of our guide, we will tell you about the key things that you should avoid.


When it comes to academic writing, plagiarism is never tolerated. All academic facilities tend to have pretty strict anti-plagiarism policies that imply different penalties for students who try to cheat, and these penalties include not only low grades but even expulsions. That’s why you certainly want to avoid plagiarism in your essay.

To keep your essays unique, you need to adhere to a few general rules. First of all, write your papers from scratch, and don’t paste pieces of text from other sources. When using external sources, be sure to cite them properly. And lastly, use plagiarism checkers to avoid surprises.

Excessive Use of the Passive Voice

According to expert writers, passive voice might be present in certain types of literary work. However, there is no space for it in academic writing.

Passive voice often leads to less straightforward, unclear, and wordy sentences. Academic writing, on the contrary, always strives for more concision and clarity. Thus, the use of passive voice can lead to poorer paper quality and a lower grade. That’s why students should avoid passive constructions in their papers and use active voice instead. 

Keep this tip in mind when editing your essay. If you used passive constructions in your rough draft, be sure to replace them with active ones while editing. You can use specialized tools like the Hemingway App to get rid of passive voice.

Using the Pronoun “I”

The next thing to avoid might be less obvious. Generally, there is nothing wrong with using the pronoun “I” in academic writing. On the contrary, sometimes, it might be necessary for certain types of essays, such as personal statements. However, it is unnecessary in a history essay.

One of the primary requirements for academic papers is a formal style of writing. This style excludes the possibility of using personal pronouns. According to specialists, pronouns can pull focus away from the topic and put the author in the center of attention.

To avoid this, you should stay back from using pronouns. One way to avoid them is to take a third-person perspective in your paper. Alternating the word choice can also help.

Use of Qualifying Terms

A qualifier is a word or phrase used to limit or enhance the meaning of another word. In literature, qualifying terms are used to make the narration more lively and highlight the author’s unique style. However, this shouldn’t be done in academic writing.

When writing an essay on history, stay back from common qualifying terms like “somewhat,” “generally,” “basically,” etc. These words don’t add any real value and make your text wordy.

Slang and Needless Words

The length of essays can vary significantly. The standard word count is between 300 and 1,000 words. However, regardless of the required word limit, students must always strive for maximum conciseness in history essay writing. That’s why you should always strive to cut down on all words that add word count but don’t bring any real value.

As for slang and jargon, these should also be avoided in essays. As was mentioned earlier, this type of paper should be composed using a formal writing style. Slang words and expressions make your paper sound informal and less credible. Needless to say, this can significantly impact the quality of your work and lead to a low grade from your teacher.

What You Should Do When Writing a History Essay

So, we already told you about what the process of writing a history essay looks like step by step and what the key things to avoid in your papers are. What else do you need to know to ensure success?

Just like there are things you shouldn’t do in academic work, there are also things that you should always do. Experts from EssayWriters used their experience and knowledge to prepare a list of the most important do’s that you should keep in mind to handle essay writing faster and easier and get a guaranteed high grade for it.

Know Your Audience or “Ideal Reader”

When it comes to writing, an in-depth audience analysis is crucial for success. Knowing your audience will help you understand how to structure your paper, what tone of voice you should use, what kind of language will be the best understood, etc. 

Simply put, when you know your audience, you can adjust the message of your essay in such a way that it sounds clear, engaging, and compelling.

Okay, that’s clear. But isn’t your professor the primary reader of any academic paper you write? Of course, this is true. When given an academic assignment, you can expect it to be read and evaluated by your professor. However, there might be some exceptions.

For example, sometimes, your papers might be read in the classroom. In this case, your class is also your audience. In other cases, you might be given an assignment that requires you to write for different audiences, including hypothetical ones. In any case, you should always consider your audience to craft a compelling essay that will grab readers’ attention.

To do this, first analyze the assignment. If you are required to write for classmates or a hypothetical audience of professionals in your field, this should be indicated in your task. If so, do some research and analysis to understand what this particular audience craves and define how you can meet their needs.

If the audience isn’t specified in the task, feel free to clarify this question with your professor.

Write in the Simple Past Tense

In most subjects, such as literature or English, the default grammar tense used for academic writing is the present tense. However, history is somewhat different from other subjects because this discipline studies the events that happened in the past.

When writing about past events or personas that lived a long time ago, it would be incorrect to stick to the present tense. Instead, you should use the past tense. 

However, we recommend sticking to the simple past tense, in particular, because advanced tenses can make your paper harder to read and reduce its clarity, which can affect the grade.

Talk to Your Professor

If you don’t have much experience in academic writing, it’s natural that you will be facing plenty of questions along the way. You might find it hard to understand the assignment, choose a suitable topic, or formulate strong arguments. Figuring out the answers to all questions yourself is possible. But it’s too time-consuming. So, asking for help is another “should do” tip.

The best way to get through arising challenges is to talk to your professor. Don’t hesitate to ask questions or request assistance with your history essay whenever you need it. Most often, professors will be willing to help you out.

Hone Your Argument

You might often have the task to reflect on historical events, demonstrating your own stance on them. To do this, you need to formulate clear arguments that represent your ideas, and you must always hone every argument until it looks perfect.

Here are a few tips that will help you create a compelling argument for your paper:

  • Keep it simple and brief;
  • Write in a clear manner;
  • Stay back from common fallacies;
  • Make sure that every argument has solid foundations;
  • Use valid evidence, stats, and data to prove your statements;
  • Avoid generalizations;
  • Understand the opposing point of view on your topic.

Address Counterarguments

Most often, students try to avoid using counterarguments in the process of history essay writing. It is believed that bringing up opposing points of view will draw readers away from the main argument and idea of the paper and will harm clarity and concision. However, that’s not quite true.

On the contrary, including counterarguments can make your essay more persuasive and add depth to it. This trick will show that you’ve done sufficient research and formulated your stance based on both sides of the question. Thus, be sure to include counterarguments in your essay and use compelling evidence to debunk them.

Ask Someone to Read Your Essay

As you already know, proofreading and editing your essay is crucial for receiving a high grade. However, unless you are incredibly well-versed in academic writing, there are still pretty high chances of missing out on something important. That’s why we always recommend students ask someone else to read their essays and give objective feedback.

Another person can take a fresh look at your paper and notice things that you might’ve missed. So, don’t hesitate to ask for help. For example, you can ask a friend, family member, or professional history essay writer to proofread an essay for you and help you hone it.

Read Your Essay Out Loud

Professional writers claim that reading out loud is one of the best tricks for the editing process. This tactic creates another layer of separation between you and your paper. Simply put, it enables you to look at your essay from a completely different angle.

Once your essay is finished, let it sit for some time and then read it out loud several times. Your tongue and ears will catch errors, awkward phrases, and other mistakes that you might’ve missed while editing your words. Besides, reading the paper out loud will help you ensure that it is easy to comprehend and logical.

Key Takeaways

Writing an A-level history essay requires dedication, attention to detail, and quite a lot of time. However, handling the task can be easy if you know exactly what to do.

After reading this article, you have a step-by-step writing guide with crucial do’s and don’ts that will let you cope with the task like a pro. Use the tips we shared with you here to write a brilliant paper that will deserve a high grade. 

Or, if you still can’t handle the task, don’t hesitate to turn to EssayWriters for help. Our experts know how to craft flawless history essay examples.