IGCSE History 0470 Paper 4 exam tips

exam tips

This revision podcast relates specifically to the CIE IGCSE History Paper 4 examination. IGCSE History 0470 Paper 4 is the Depth Study paper, and consequently the content material differs depending on what Depth Study you studied at your school. It doesn’t matter which one you focused on as the layout of the exam and the requirements of the mark scheme are the same. Consequently this podcast aims to be as broad as possible.

As with my revision podcast for IGCSE Paper 2, this episode is built around the notes from the examiner’s report combined with my own practical tips and tricks for using your knowledge and skills in the right ways in order to gain the number of marks you deserve.

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59 Responses to IGCSE History 0470 Paper 4 exam tips

  1. nick says:

    Dear Mr Allsop,
    I was wondering if me having learnt 3/4 of my depth study topics for America in detail is fine-they cannot ask you 2 questions on the same topic???

    • Mr Allsop says:

      It’s very unlikely, but it’s not a guarantee.

  2. Giulie says:

    This was really helpful! tank you!

  3. Warren Rowe says:

    How many arguments do you need on both sides of the statement?

    Paper 4 ?
    Paper 1 question (c)

    I have heard that 3 ( One for and 2 against) is fine for a paper 1 but 3 and 3 needed for paper 4

    • Mr Allsop says:

      There is no strict guidance given in the markscheme for either of those questions in terms of how many examples are expected on each side. I encourage my students to write ‘two or more’ on each side in Paper 1 (c) questions, and say that they should be looking to at least double that for Paper 4 due to the additional time. Structure of the essay is much more important for Paper 4, so planning a response will take longer.

  4. Urvi says:

    Hi Mr Allsop!
    Sir I was confused as to how should I start my answer. How should I balance my arguments (show the sustained line of argument) in the beginning?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      A short introduction should outline your ‘thesis statement’, which is where you effectively state your overall opinion. An extended introduction isn’t necessary, just a clear indication of your line of argument and an idea of the key issues you will explore.

      • Maria says:

        Hi mr allsop,

        I would really need your help!
        Im still not sure how to structure my introduction and conclusion.
        in the conclusion should I pick a side or simply stay balanced and use a mixture of both.

        “How significant was the motor industry a cause for changes in US society in 1920s”
        should I choose between the motor industry and other previously analyzed factors or simply a mix of both?

        THANK YOU!

        • Mr Allsop says:

          You should come down on one side or the other, since the question asks ‘how significant’. Although your main essay will show how changes in US society in the 1920s were caused by multiple factors, you have to give a judgement of how significant the motor industry was – was it highly, reasonably, barely…?

  5. Dhruwang says:

    How much time should we dedicate for planning the answer?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      That’s a difficult question to respond to – your plan should be well-formed and give you a clear direction. If you can do that in 2 minutes then great. If you need to take longer, take the time. It’s better to have a well-planned answer leading to a focused (slightly shorter) essay than a badly planned but very long response.

  6. Rahul says:

    I’ve noticed that in almost all Paper 4 exams since the syllabus change in 2014 there has been one question based before 1934 and one based after 1934 (except for 0470_w16_43). Would be worth focusing all my time and effort on one of the time periods so that I have better knowledge to answer one of the questions well?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Like you say in your comment, this has been the pattern in “almost all” which means it’s not a guarantee. It would be sensible to prepare yourself fully for every possible question since there isn’t a strict pattern of time periods like there is on Paper 1.

  7. Urvi says:

    Hi Mr.Allsop,
    I was confused as to how many points should we write on one side of our argumemt. As we have only one hour to describe, balance and analyse our answer, how many points will be sufficient for one side? Thank you.

    • Mr Allsop says:

      That’s not an easy question to answer as it depends so much on the level of detail you include in each point, and the speed at which you write. The mark scheme does not specify a number of points that need to be made, but I would suggest at least 3 points on each side of the argument to show the range of your knowledge.

  8. Victoria says:

    Hello, how many points do you suggest we list and develop in total for this question? In paper 1 question C, my teacher asks us to list 3 points for each side of the argument,(1 per paragraph), and explain each point. This leaves a total of 6 paragraphs, excluding the conclusion. If this is similar to question C, then do we do the same (3 developed points per side of argument, 6 in total?)

    • Mr Allsop says:

      For Paper 1 (c) answers I advise similar (my general rule is ‘two or more’ per side). For Paper 4 you should be looking at at least the same number, each of which should contain significantly greater detail than Paper 1 answers. You have three times as long to write Paper 4 than you do a (c) answer on Paper 1, so your answer should therefore be approximately three times as long.

  9. Disha says:

    Dear Mr. Allsop
    Do you have to give the background of the topics? My teacher says that if you are writing about the SS you will need to give a background on how germany lost the war and then how Hitler grew and then come onto the SS. is this how my answer should be?
    Thank you

    • Mr Allsop says:

      It depends entirely on the question. Context is obviously useful, but if it doesn’t help to answer the question then additional background probably isn’t going to be beneficial. The mark scheme specifically states that for a top-level answer a candidate must:
      * Select and deploy a range of relevant and accurate contextual knowledge
      * Select, organise and deploy effectively and relevantly a wide range of information
      The next point in the mark scheme states “awareness of the importance of the broad context and of interrelationships of the issues of the question”, but this does not suggest that background information that doesn’t relate to the specific question is necessary.

  10. Ashley says:

    Thank you so much for the podcast. It is extremely useful to me. 😀

  11. Schawin says:

    Hello Mr.Allsop,

    I would like to ask you on how how much information I need to secure high marks. Like do I need 40 pieces of information?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Advice on how to secure high marks is included in the podcast. Paper 4 marks are secured by writing an answer of a certain ‘level’, the details of which are given in the podcast.

  12. Michael Chawira says:

    I have liked your advice to exam candidates on paper 4. Candidates must focus on argument development not narration in paper 4. I actually teach my candidates to start with an introduction as a way of answering the question: how far or how significant. I advise my candidates to think not to remember when it comes to paper 4.

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Beginning with an introduction featuring a clear thesis statement can be a useful part of Paper 4. The majority of the marks are still awarded to the quality of balance and analysis, but a clear judgement secures the highest levels.

      • I want to highlight that Paper 4 essays are made more meaningful provided that the candidate shows the shortcomings of the supportive side of the answer. Illustration: How significant was the great depression in the rise to power of the Nazis in Germany. Candidate answers supporting that the great depression was very significant. Candidate gives supporting evidence which is explained in detail. Candidate then shows that the great depression also benefited the left-wing extreme parties like the communists and socialists. This justifies the inclusion of the other factors in the balancing of the essay. Only after the shortcomings of the great depression can the other factors be included and explained in detail.

  13. Werning says:

    Is the format of a paper 4 essay (history) outlined in this podcast? Also, is this updated for 2016 or is it ambiguous for all years?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      The podcast gives advice about content and structure, and is relevant for every Paper 4 under the ‘new’ syllabus introduced on 2015. 2016 isn’t a unique year in any way, so the podcast is still relevant.

  14. Schawin says:

    Mr Allsop, sorry if I’m asking too many questions but will they give me marks for giving an introduction? For example, if they’re asking me how import was the entry of the USA in the First World War and i start my answer with ” THe main reason America entered was because of the sinking of the Lusitania”. And also, in Paper 4 should I write my essay from two sides? Thank you so much

    • Mr Allsop says:

      I assume you haven’t yet listened to my podcast, as I state a number of times that your Paper 4 answer needs to be balanced.
      An introduction in which you provide your judgement would be a sensible thing to include in such a long essay, but you can still reach the highest levels without.

  15. Schawin says:

    Hello Mr Allsop,

    Could you please tell me if Nazi Germany is going to come out in every Paper 4. And how should I outline my essay. Does it need to be very long?

  16. Berna says:

    When a question asks:
    How significant was opposition of big business in limiting the impact of Roosevelts new deal? Explain your answer. What does such a question mean

    • Mr Allsop says:

      This question contains an assumption: that Roosevelt’s New Deal had a limited impact. The key issue for you to debate is how far big business’ opposition to the New Deal was responsible for this limited impact. This means presenting arguments that the opposition of big business limited the impact of the New Deal, and arguments that it was other factors that limited the impact of the New Deal. You could also challenge the assumption by saying that, despite the problems, the New Deal didn’t have a limited impact.

  17. Purvi says:

    The most helpful and creative website! Thank you so much!

  18. Joe Powell says:

    Hi, I was wondering if you suggest some potential essay examples that could come up in the paper 4 I have on Monday on this topic (Weimar and Nazi), it doesn’t have to be full essay questions, just the general topic such as ‘successes and failures of weimar’ or ‘How far did Weimar recover and prosper’ I am not asking for past papers just some possible essays that I could have a go at. I asked this question earlier somewhere on the website but I don’t know how to access it again sorry. Thanks

    • Mr Allsop says:

      It’s impossible for me to guess at what may come up in tomorrow’s exam, especially as this is only the second year that Paper 4 has been set in this format. If the examiner chooses topics like on the ‘old’ Paper 4, then you can assume that those which appeared on Paper 1 will not be repeated – so look back at Paper 1 and spend some time on the topics that weren’t there. However, the best approach is to prepare for all eventualities. I have said before that I think it would make sense to spend some time looking at questions about how far different factors were responsible for Hitler’s rise to power. I only say this because there have so far not been any questions on it.

  19. John says:

    Is it possible that both questions of a depth study, for example USA, has the same topic? (such as both questions is about the New Deal)

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Anything is possible, but in reality it is highly unlikely.

    • Ian Masters says:

      They came quite close to being the same topic last year. Hoover’s response to the depression and agricultural reforms in the New Deal. The old Paper 4 consistently asked one question about the 1920s and one about the 1930s. It seems as though that is no longer going to be the case.

      • Mr Allsop says:

        That’s interesting – I don’t teach the USA Depth Study so hadn’t looked at those questions. Thanks for sharing.

  20. Rari says:

    How would you answer this question:

    How successful were Gustav Stresemann’s policies?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      This question requires a balanced response that explains both the successes and failures of Stresemann’s policies. Begin by making a chart of each side – you might want to use details from this Weimar Germany 1919-29 revision podcast. Then use the evidence and examples to structure balanced paragraphs that explain the successes and failures of Stresemann’s policies. You should make it clear whether you think he was more or less successful.

  21. Omar says:

    Hi Mr Allsop,
    I just wanted to ask,how long is this essay expected to be?
    Thank you

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Hi Omar,

      It’s probably best to get a guide based on the time available. The question ‘type’ is similar to question (c) on Paper 1, for which you’d normally have 20 minutes. Since Paper 4 is an hour long, which is three times the length, your answer to Paper 4 should be about 3 times as long as your tpyical answer to Paper 1 Question (c).

  22. Hafsa says:

    What are the main things to consider when writing this particular paper?

  23. Jim says:

    Would an introduction be essential?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      According to the markscheme it’s not ‘essential’, but for an essay of this length it would make sense to outline your argument in an introduction.

  24. Could you please send me some question on arab-isareli conflict for paper 4 so that I could practice. I really really want an A*.

    • Mr Allsop says:

      I’m afraid I’m not able to provide you with past paper examples. You should speak to you teacher to obtain some.

  25. […] see CIE History Paper 4 from 2015 onwards for the current version of this […]

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