Succeeding at Sourcework exam tips

IGCSE and GCSE History source skills tips revision

This History revision podcast focuses on how to answer different types of source questions.  Many of the hints are good practice with for any sourcework paper, but if you would like specific advice for the CIE exams then check out my revision podcasts for IGCSE Paper 2 and IGCSE Paper 4.

This specific episode presents tips on a range source question types including:

  • Comprehension
  • Comprehension in Context
  • Reliability/Usefulness/Value
  • Source Comparisons
  • Interpretation


30 Responses to Succeeding at Sourcework exam tips

  1. Ahmad Younas says:

    Hi Mr Allsop my name is Ahmad I wanted to ask you that how much reasons should we write in the ten mark question

    • Mr Allsop says:

      The mark scheme says that for 7 marks you need to write one explanation on one side, and two on the other. For nine marks you need two well-explained arguments on each side.

  2. Yayra sosu says:

    Hi Mr. Allsop, I am Yayra Sosu from Ghana. I have a paper 2 soon. How do you really analysis illustrations from a source paper. I watched your YouTube video on source paper by I want a clarification on the 5 ws and 1 h thing if I remember clearly. Thanks

    • Mr Allsop says:

      You need to consider what you can see as well as what those features represent in the context of the image:

      What can you see?
      Who is shown? Who created it?
      When was it created / what was happening at the time?
      Where was it created / where is the image meant to be? (i.e. is it a foreign or a local comment?)
      Why was it created? What was the motivation of the illustrator?

      The ‘H’ is ‘how far’ – but this is very specific to the exact question being asked.

  3. Alex J says:

    Hi Mr.Allsop,

    In your ‘top tips for exam revision’ video, you stated that in a question that asks ‘how far’ sources agree, a main mistake was to state the similarities and differences of the sources as they are not the same as agreements/disagreements. However, in this video, you suggested making a comparative table of the similarities and differences of the sources. Perhaps you could clarify that bit?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Yes, I see how that can be a bit unclear. I have used the terms interchangeably, which I really shouldn’t have done. In this video the ‘similarities/differences’ I’m really talking about the content of the source, which is therefore their agreements/disagreements.

  4. Katherine says:

    Thank you! My GCSE exam is this summer, and these podcasts are great! You condense the info and make it sort of fun. I very much appreciate it. Making notes and also using a revision guide.

  5. Al says:

    Thank you for all the great resources, and the clarity of your podcasts. History can be such a vast and therefore difficult subject to navigate through, but your advice has made me confident!

  6. Good Morning Mr A.
    Your site is new to me but I will be exploring it a lot more, I have left links to a few of your videos for my students here in Spain. Could you tell me, on a Paper 2, is there a recommended time for each question? Regards, Michael

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Thanks for your message – I’m glad that you have found the materials here useful. In terms of time, I usually just suggest a maximum of 2-and-a-quarter minutes per mark, since that leaves a bit of time for checking the paper at the end.

  7. Malini Kamath says:

    Dear Mr Allsop,
    I am writing from Bangalore, India. I am teaching IG History for the first time and was in jitters…… With your podcasts and valuable information I was able to cope with the portions and teach it effectively!!!!!
    Today, I can say that I love teaching History and my students show great interest too….
    When I am tired of listening to my voice, ( probably my students feel the same) we listen to your podcasts….. It is so clear and easy to understand.
    It is excellent revision material.
    Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your great help and inputs.

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Hi Malini
      Thank you very much for taking the time to send such a flattering message! I’m really glad you’ve found my website to be useful in delivering the CIE IGCSE History course to your students. Good luck to them in the exams.
      All the best,

  8. Varhsa Dillikar says:

    Hi Mr.Allsop,
    Thanks a ton!!!! Your podcasts on the Gulf wars are very very helpful in preparing the kids for exams.A request, do you conduct any workshop for History teachers taking up IGCSE curriculum? If yes please let me know very much interested to attend such session!!!Do think of it for teachers in India also.

    • Mr Allsop says:

      That’s very kind of you to say, and I’m flattered that you would be interested in me leading a workshop for IGCSE teachers. I hope that my podcasts will provide enough guidance, and I do plan to create more to cover every examination paper in the future.

  9. Bella says:

    This website has been a life saver. I actually believe I can pass my mocks now. Please could you upload a written version of the podcast like your other posts, would be very helpful.
    Thank You

  10. Lucas says:

    I am truly thankful Mr All Sop for the guidance and tips for IGCSE PAPER 2 HISTORY, in this peak hour and very limited time for revision. It was tedious for books revision so I listened to your podcasts and I now have the idea and understanding concept to do the Paper 2. Thank you so much. I hope to succeed in that paper. Especially explaining the agreements on the sources. Thank you very much. Have a good day.


    • Mr Allsop says:

      Hi Lucas, and thanks for your message. I’m glad that you’ve found my website useful. Good luck in your exam.

  11. rhea singh says:

    Hi can you let me know approx how long each answer should be according to howmany marks it is worth?

    • Mr Allsop says:

      There is no simple response to this. Everyone writes at different speeds, and everyone has different styles. Some people can answer in 4 sentences what others do in 12. Base your answers on time allocated to each question rather than physical length. The examiners are looking for quality, not quantity.

  12. Nasri H says:

    I am so grateful for this. Mr.Allsop your sourcework tips are really helpful and we look forward to more of your Podcasts…I think this will help me improve from my mock grade.

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Hi Nasri, and thanks for taking the time to leave a comment. I’m glad you’ve found the tips helpful. Good luck in your exams 🙂

  13. Iman says:

    You saved my life. Thank you so much. I’m having my mocks tomorrow and I hadn’t the slightest clue how to do the Paper 2, after watching both of your podcasts I’m much more confident. I hadn’t revised much for my mocks and reading seemed way too time consuming and draining. Your podcasts are amazing for revision and I think what you’re doing is awesome.

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Hi Iman,
      Thank your your message. I’m really glad you’ve found my podcasts helpful, and hope that your mocks went well. New podcasts will be added to the site in time for the summer exams, so check back in the future 🙂

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you Mr Allsop! I have my Mock GCSEs after the Christmas break and I am so nervous! Your podcasts really helped!

  15. richard Tjazapi says:

    Many thanks, mr ALLsop.

  16. richard Tjazapi says:

    I am a secondary school History teacher at Putuavanga Secondary School located in Kunene Region of Namibia. I will be very delighted if you can send me more information on how i can help my learners with Source based Questions. You can also e-mail me more questions and answers on the Source question based on the Depth study of Germany 1919-1945.

    Let me thank you in advance .

    Mr R U Tjazapi

    09 February 2014

    • Mr Allsop says:

      Hi Richard
      Thank you for your message. I currently have two podcasts on sourcework – Succeeding At Sourcework and IGCSE History Paper 2 Exam Tips. I also have a podcast offering advice on the IGCSE History Paper 4 Depth Study. Bear in mind that, from Summer 2015, Paper 4 is changing to a different type of assessment. You can obtain past paper questions and markschemes from the examination board’s website.

      • Gerald Ray says:

        Hi Mr. Allsop. I’m Gerald and I’m doing History paper 4 soon. I listened to your podcast and one point that u stressed alot on is that its always better that for “How far” questions u produce a balanced arguement with support for and against the matter at hand. I was wondering is this necessary because for my paper 1 I only argued for one side either for or against depending on the question i didnt argue for both. Will this make me lose marks

        • Mr Allsop says:

          A ‘how far’ question always requires balance. The markscheme is very clear about this: to get Level 4 or above you need to give 2 explanations on each side of the argument. To then achieve Level 5 you must then add an overall judgement that is supported by your argument.

  17. Peter says:

    This is excellent

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