How to… AQA GCSE History 8145/2B

Read this first.

These ‘How to…’ guides have been produced by an experienced GCSE and A-level teacher and examiner to provide some guidance about the question types used in the AQA GCSE History examinations.

They do not provide a summary of all the material stipulated in the syllabus (your own notes are the best resource here), but give examples for each question, together with tips, abbreviated markschemes and a model answer. Using these guides, together with your class notes and maybe a textbook, will help improve your understanding of the exams, therefore your technique and ultimately your potential grades.

I strongly suggest that you actively revise (e.g. make flash -cards, knowledge organisers, mindmaps…) any topic before attempting a practice question. Then ask a friend, family-member or even your teacher to mark the work for you - using the markscheme.
Good Luck!

AQA GCSE History - Paper 2 Section B – Elizabethan England

Q1: How convincing is interpretation C about …? 8 marks / 10-12 minutes
Q2: Explain what was important about X … 8 marks / 10-12 minutes
Q3: Write an account of … 8 marks / 10-12 minutes
Q4: Evaluation/Iceberg – Historic Site…16 marks / 20-25 minutes

NOTE: In ALL answers examiners expect PEEL paragraphs and evidence of DARKU (Detailed, Accurate, Relevant Knowledge and Understanding), with links to the ‘bigger picture’. In this paper, examiners expect evidence that students have in- depth knowledge of the topic and can find links between the economic, religious, political cultural and social themes, with short term and long term changes considered.

Q1: Interpretation … or analysing sources

Example questions:

The Interpretations will always be a written passage of about 100 words.

a. How convincing is Interpretation D about the threat posed by the Catholics during the reign of Elizabeth I? Explain your answer using Interpretation D and your contextual knowledge . (D is a paragraph from a school textbook) 8 marks.

b. How convincing is Interpretation C about the career of Sir Walter Raleigh? Explain your answer using Interpretation C and your contextual knowledge.
(C is a drawing showing Raleigh’s dismissal from court from a children’s story book.) 8 marks.

Mark Scheme:
These questions require analysis of CONTENT only, what is ‘in the box’ (NOT the provenance).

Level 4: Complex evaluation of interpretation based on contextual knowledge/understanding. 7–8 marks
Level 3: Developed evaluation based on contextual knowledge/understanding of more than one aspect of the interpretation. 5-6 marks
Level 2: Simple evaluation of interpretation based on contextual knowledge/understanding. 3–4 marks
Level 1: Answers show understanding/support for interpretation, but the case is made by assertion/recognition of agreement. 1-2 marks.

Section 1: Interpretation C is convincing about … because it includes … (at least 1 piece of relevant information) – explain how these make the interpretation convincing

Section 2: The interpretation also mentions X (a different person/event to that in section 1) -analyse how this adds to the accuracy of the interpretation.

Ensure you have covered the whole question and try to refer to the ‘bigger picture’ of the period if possible.

Therefore C is very/quite/not convincing about … because overall it… (summarise your ideas)

Example Question & Answer:

Interpretation A:
An interpretation of Queen Elizabeth, her marriage and the succession.

Adapted from an article by Penry Williams, in ‘History Review’, 1998.

‘A serious criticism of Elizabeth was her failure to settle the succession. Despite pressure from her Council and marriage negotiations with several suitors, all were rejected. Her death before 1587 would probably have led to civil war. It seems unlikely that she had a deep-seated personal dislike of marriage but choosing a husband was difficult. Some suitors, like Leicester, were unacceptable to many councillors. The Catholic religion of suitors, such as Anjou, ruled them out. Elizabeth was lucky that she lived long enough for the problem to solve itself.’

How convincing is Interpretation A about Queen Elizabeth and marriage?
Explain your answer using Interpretation A and your contextual knowledge. (8 marks)

Example Answer:

'The interpretation is fairly convincing as it shows some of Elizabeth’s attitudes and problems with marriage, however there are some weaker areas. The interpretation is correct when it mentions serious criticism of Elizabeth in failing to settle her succession, as the topic was raised at her Privy Council meetings often and was even discussed in Parliament by MPs like Peter Wentworth. Though the Queen herself was never actually criticised for not marrying, there was much pressure on her to marry during her early reign, as the interpretation shows when it states, “Despite pressure from her Council…”

A is also convincing when it says that had Elizabeth died before 1587 there might have been a civil war, as the only successor to the throne was Mary Queen of Scots, who was executed in 1587. Mary was Catholic, it is likely that Protestant England would have rebelled against her if she became Queen, so the interpretation’s opinion is convincing. A remains convincing when it mentions that Catholic suitors were ruled out, as marrying a Catholic was deeply unpopular with Elizabeth’s Privy Council. Finally, A is convincing when it mentions her problems with choosing a husband and that English suitors like Leicester were also unacceptable. This was very true, as Leicester headed one of the factions of Elizabeth’s Privy Council, and was opposed by Cecil’s faction. Leicester was also rumoured to have murdered his wife so he would be available for Elizabeth to marry, further making him unsuitable.

A is in some ways unconvincing however, as there are elements of vagueness. The last sentence suggests that she outlived the problem of marriage and succession. Firstly, this could be referring to her surviving smallpox in 1562. If she had died without a marriage or heir, then it would have caused problems in England. Secondly, it could be referring to the execution of Mary Queen of Scots in 1587. However, it is not clear which problem she outlived, making the interpretation less convincing. Finally, this last section is not convincing, as the problem did not solve itself, she died unmarried and the Crown passed from the Tudor family to James I, the son of her enemy, Mary Queen of Scots. Therefore, the interpretation is quite convincing, but is imprecise in places, as it does not mention Mary, Queen of Scots by name, and lacks clarity about how she ‘lived long enough for the problem to solve itself’.

Examiner comment: the answer is clearly L4. It clearly analyses two ‘aspects’ of the interpretation – Elizabeth’s issues about a) marriage and b) the succession – who would be the next monarch. There are several accurate examples of contextual knowledge which add relevant information and improve the explanations. It is well-written in clear PEE paragraphs. This answer was awarded 8/8.

Q2: Explaining concepts: importance

Example questions (8 marks):

Explain what was important about voyages abroad during the reign of Elizabeth I

Explain what was important about the problem of poverty in Elizabethan England.

Explain what was important about the arrival of Mary Queen of Scots in England in 1568.

Target: Explain and analyse historical events and periods studied using second-order concepts (importance, continuity, change, cause, consequence, significance, similarity and difference) and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of the key features and characteristics of the period studied.

All levels require evidence of Accurate and Relevant Knowledge and Understanding (ARKU). PEE paragraphs are expected.

Level 4: Complex explanation of changes, demonstrating a range of ARKU.
Answers explain the complexities of change arising from differences, such as time (short term/long term), social and/or economic impact, supported by knowledge and understanding. 7–8

Level 3: Developed explanation of changes, demonstrating a range of ARKU.
Students consider two or more of the identified consequences, supporting them with factual knowledge and understanding. 5-6.

Level 2: Simple explanation of change. Answer demonstrates specific ARKU. 3–4

Level 1: Basic explanation of change(s). Answer demonstrates basic RKU. Students identify change(s), which are relevant to the question. 1–2

Ensure your answer covers 2 developed aspects of the theme given in the question.

Key words: important; significant; affected by; similar; different

First section: X was (insert appropriate key word from the question – e.g. important) because

Second section: In addition, another reason X was… (use this opportunity to show your knowledge and add in several other facts)

Third section: X changed (developed / improved…) during the (time period) because of other …. . This links to … (the ‘bigger picture’ – other relevant events) as

Final section: Therefore, X was very important… as it (summarise your arguments, try to include local, national and even international effects, if possible).

Example Question & Answer:

Explain what was important about the arrival of Mary, Queen of Scots in England in 1568. (8 marks)

'When Mary, Queen of Scots arrived in England she expected to be named heir in court by Elizabeth. Instead she was seen as a threat and placed under house arrest for twenty years. Mary was a threat to Elizabeth’s safety, as after the Papal Bull excommunicating Elizabeth from the Catholic church in 1570, Catholics no longer were expected to obey Elizabeth and were encouraged to kill her. Only a few extreme Catholics felt this strongly and many stayed loyal to Elizabeth, but Mary became central to plots of restoring Catholicism in England and killing Elizabeth, putting Mary on the throne instead. Mary had a strong claim to the throne, being Elizabeth’s cousin, but she was also a devout Catholic.

There were three major plots, involving Mary, to overthrow Elizabeth: the Ridolfi Plot, the Throckmorton Plot, and the Babington Plot. However, due to Walsingham’s spy network, none succeeded. These plots were also supported by Philip of Spain for several reasons. He was a fanatic Catholic who wanted to bring England back to the ‘true’ faith, and he had been turned down as a suitor for Elizabeth’s hand in marriage. Additionally, her privateers were illegally trading with Spanish colonies and stealing Spanish silver and gold, looting Spanish treasure ships, and being rewarded for this illegal behaviour by Elizabeth. When Mary was found to be an active participant in the Babington Plot, Elizabeth was under much pressure to have her executed. Nonetheless, Elizabeth didn’t wish to further anger Philip of Spain (and possibly cause a war), nor did she want the death of her cousin, who was still seen as a rightful queen anointed by God, much like herself. However, Elizabeth was eventually convinced that Mary had to face execution and signed her death warrant. This was quickly taken to Fotheringay to ensure the execution took place. Mary’s execution was one of the reasons for the attack of the Spanish Armada in 1588.’

Awarded 6/8. 2018. Answer contains much information and knowledge about Mary, but some is not relevant to the actual question. Not L4 as lacks focus on 1568 – Elizabeth still being young, the threat from Scotland, the lack of an heir.

Q3: Write an account of… 8 marks

Example questions:

Write an account of the failure of the Spanish attempt to invade England in 1588. 8 marks

Write an account of Elizabeth I’s relationship with her Parliament. 8 marks

Write an account of the ways in which the voyages of discovery affected Elizabethan England. 8 marks

NOTE: these answers require EXPLANATION. Re-word this question to help ensure you write an explanation - what caused X? What happened? What were the consequences?

Write an account of the ways in which voyages of discovery…’ = ‘Explain how voyages of discovery…’

Section 1: X was…. (outline what happened, to whom, when and why)

Section 2: Explain how the situation changed – improved or worsened, adding dates and specific information to show your knowledge. Use chronological order. show how X caused other events.

Section 3: Link the event to the ‘bigger picture’ and explain how X had a wider impact.

Section 4: Provide a brief summary and link back to the question – use some of the question words to complete your answer.

Key Words:
Cause / Consequence / result of

Mark scheme - WRITE AN ACCOUNT

Level 4: Complex analysis of causation/consequence. Answer is well structured and demonstrates a range of DARKU. 7–8

Level 3: Developed analysis of causation/consequence. Answer is presented in a structured and well-ordered narrative/account that demonstrates a range of DARKU. 5–6

Level 2: Simple analysis of causation/consequence. Answer is presented in a structured account that demonstrates specific RKU. 3–4

Level 1: Basic analysis of causation/consequence.
Answer is presented as general statements which demonstrate basic RKU. 1–2

Example Question and Answer:

Write an account of the ways in which the voyages of discovery affected Elizabethan England. (8 marks)

'The voyages of Sir Francis Drake, the first captain to circumnavigate the globe, gained Elizabeth herself vast fortunes as he often raided Spanish treasure ships and ports as a privateer, giving much of the plunder to Elizabeth, in addition to making himself very wealthy and demonstrating the abilities of English sailors and ships. This was important as the royal coffers were near depleted during her reign as Henry VIII had spent most of the money in the treasury on warfare and his lavish lifestyle. Elizabeth also disliked calling the House of Commons which was necessary to increase or call for extra taxes. She only called Parliament 13 times in her entire reign.

Trade from Asia, India and the Americas brought wealth to Elizabethan England and began its interest in colonialization, with Raleigh’s attempt to establish a colony at Roanoke. However, this attempt failed, and a more successful colony in Virginia (named in honour of the Virgin Queen) did not take root until the next century.

These voyages also inspired the development of the English navy which was to become a fearsome force and advances in ship design, such as the lateen sail allowed much greater speed and manoeuvrability. This, combined with advances in cannon technology and naval battle tactics, helped defeat the Spanish Armada in 1688.

The trade between the New World gave rise to England’s increasing wealth and power despite them being late to the grabbing of colonies. New products such as potatoes and tobacco swiftly became popular. Exploration also set up the East India Trade Company which traded with Asia, spreading new ideas and bringing new resources and products to Europe. These voyages also increased knowledge of the world and the land masses in it creating new, more accurate maps and better trade routes for more efficient trade, also disproving the idea that the world was flat.

These voyages helped make Elizabethan England a ‘golden age’ and gave Elizabeth much respect as a monarch, both from English people and also in the eyes of other rulers in Europe.’

•Awarded 7/8, 2018, because it gives ‘two explicitly explained points’, supported with ARKU.

Q4: Evaluation / iceberg…the big ‘factors’ question.

The 2023 paper nominated topic for this question is Sheffield Manor Lodge. The examiners expect students to be very knowledgeable about this topic as they have studied Sheffield Manor Lodge in detail.

Example questions:

‘Elizabethan houses for the rich were built more for comfort than for protection’. How far does a study of Sheffield Manor Lodge support this statement?

You should refer to the Sheffield Manor Lodge and your contextual knowledge. 16 marks

‘George Talbot was the perfect custodian* for Mary, Queen of Scots.’ How far does a study of Sheffield Manor Lodge support this statement?
You should refer to Sheffield Manor Lodge and your contextual knowledge. 16 marks

*a custodian is a person who is responsible for taking care of, protecting or imprisoning something or someone

Tips from the examiners: Read the question VERY carefully and make sure your answer fully addresses the actual question, linking to the actual site – the Sheffield Manor Lodge. Be aware – the above example question is about reasons for a use of the site, the actual question might be about consequences or success.

Section 1: Explain and give details and several examples about the given reason (custodian) and Talbot’s positive contribution. (useful words – important, influence, advances…)

Possible/optional section: Explain, giving details and examples, of other ways in which X affected Y. (useful words – however, challenge, limitations…).

Section 2: Provide at least 1 other reason for Y (SML being a ‘perfect’ prison for MQoS) – again, explain how, giving several examples from as wide a time period as possible, as appropriate to the question. (useful words – additionally, increasingly, effective, impact…). This section will be several paragraphs and should support your judgement as to the main factor.

Section 3/conclusion: (Re)state your decision about the statement given in the question. Give a clear evaluation, summarise why, show that you understand the ‘bigger picture’.

The example below is from a previous Q4 - the nominated site was the English Channel - the site of the defeat of the Spanish Armada. The answer gives an indication of the amount of detail and analysis expected for a L4 mark. Use this to see how much DARKU is used, and how the answer is structured.

English tactics were the main reason for the defeat of the Spanish Armada’.
How far does your study of the defeat of the Spanish Armada in the English Channel, July/August 1588 support this statement?
Explain your answer. You should refer to the English Channel and your contextual knowledge. (16 MARKS)

English tactics played an important role in the defeat of the Spanish Armada in the English Channel. There were, however, a number of other very significant factors such as the inspiring leadership of Drake and Lord Howard, the poor leadership and organisation of the Spanish, and the unpredictable weather, combined with natural features of the English Channel.

The English tactic of the using the fire ships stopped the Spanish from being able to collect the Duke of Parma’s army of 30,000 men from Calais. Admiral Lord Howard ordered 8 ships to be stripped of supplies and set on fire so that they could drift towards the Spanish fleet who were waiting at Calais to pick up the Duke of Parma’s men. This caused the Spanish to panic, cut their anchors to move out of the way of the fire-ships, and to leave the harbour without the army. This was an important turning-point in the defeat of the Spanish Armada because this meant that it would later be difficult for the Armada to return to Calais and collect the Duke of Parma’s men to invade as following the Battle of Gravelines in early August the Spanish found themselves being blown northwards away from Calais and unable to stop because they had no anchors. As the main plan had been to collect the Duke of Parma’s men this meant that the Spanish Armada could no longer complete its mission and therefore they had been defeated.

In the Battle of Gravelines, another English tactic was effective., For years English privateers had attacked Spanish treasure ships, gaining knowledge of the Spanish naval fighting techniques. The Spanish liked to sail close to the enemy, board with grappling hooks, and then defeat enemy sailors in hand-to-hand combat. The English commanders therefore denied them this opportunity, using their more nimble and smaller ships, with faster-loading cannons, to fight from a distance. Better weaponry and training therefore also contributed to the English success, combined with strong naval leadership. English knowledge of the English Channel, the tides, the positions of sandbanks and sheltered areas also assisted in their success.

However, other key reasons for the English success were the problems and weaknesses of the Spanish. Despite having a magnificent fleet of ships, with many sailors, soldiers and priests, King Philip’s insistence that his orders be followed meant the inexperienced and sea-sick Admiral Medina-Sidonia could not react to any changes in circumstance. The crescent formation had to be maintained even if this allowed the English to attack in different ways and fire on the more vulnerable outer ships. Additionally, the Armada was supposed to collect 30,000 soldiers from the Netherlands, then cross the Channel, invade England and establish Catholic control. Unfortunately for Medina-Sidonia, communications between his navy and the army on land were terrible and the troops were much too late arriving, by which time the Armada had been pushed out to sea by the winds and were unable to return south, again due to the strong winds and because the English navy did not allow it.

Many English people at the time believed that their success was God’s will – proved by the high winds and storms which later devastated the Armada. This also greatly strengthened Elizabeth’s position as a Protestant queen, increasing her popularity and boosting the concept of a ‘Golden Age’. Overall, the combination of the English ships’ greater manoeuvrability, effective use of cannon fire, and strong, skilled leadership, all enabled the use of effective tactics in the difficult waters of the English Channel in the summer of 1588. The Spanish attempt to invade was a failure which helped establish England as an important naval power.’

Examiner’s comment: L4 answer. DARKU shown, with great support for the reason given, plus an alternative argument, complex analysis shown. Links between different reasons and factors are also explored. Links to site are made, but with few specific geographical details eg place names, which puts this at 14/16.