How to… AQA GCSE History 8145/2A

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!

Paper 2 Section A - Health and the People

4 questions, 1 hour.
The questions will always follow the format below:

Q1: How useful is Source A to a historian studying…? (8 marks)

Q2: Explain the significance of X in … (8 marks)

Q3: Compare X with Y. In what ways were they similar? (8 marks)

Q4: Has X been the main factor in causing Y? Explain your answer. (16 marks + 4 marks SPG)

Tip: In the exam, consider attempting Q4 first - it’s worth nearly 50% of the marks for this paper.

Q1. How useful is source X … to a historian? Explain your answer using source X and your own contextual knowledge. 8 marks / 10 minutes

Example questions:

  1. How useful is source A to a historian studying the understanding of disease? (Source A is an advert for soap from 1910) (8 marks)
  2. How useful are sources P and Q for a historian studying the effects of the Black Death on medieval England? (8 marks)
  3. How useful is source X (a cartoon from 1800 about the effects of vaccination) to a historian studying reactions to the smallpox vaccination in the early nineteenth century? (8 marks)


Mark scheme:

Source A:

A cartoon from 1802, the British satirist James Gillray implied that vaccination caused people to become part cow.

Study Source A.
How useful is Source A to a historian studying reactions to the smallpox vaccination in the early nineteenth century? Explain your answer using Source A and your contextual knowledge.

Example Answer:

"Source A shows society’s negative reaction to Edward Jenner’s discovery of the Smallpox vaccination. The cows sprouting from people’s bodies are a representation of the unnatural effects people believed they would develop if they got vaccinated. This is useful because it is a reminder that although the discovery is significant today, it was rejected by a lot of people around the time it was found.

The origin of this source states that it was drawn in 1802 by James Gillray only three years after Jenner’s discovery. As the vaccination was still relatively new in 1802, many people did not trust it, especially as Jenner had no way of explaining the effects of his work as germs had yet to be discovered. Therefore, the person drawing this may have set out for it to be portrayed negatively so that people may revert to more common treatments such as inoculation. This would stop many doctors going out of business as they weren’t familiar with Jenner’s practice and didn’t trust it.

The purpose of this source is to shine a negative light on Jenner’s vaccination so that people would not rely on his methods of treatment. At this time, inoculation was widely practiced by many doctors throughout Britain. This is useful as it can give us a further explanation as to why his discovery did not take off as quickly as we would presume. This being because if Jenner’s vaccination became popular enough, many doctors would lose money from performing inoculations, hence them spreading rumors such as those seen here.

The source is a cartoon, and this impacts its utility as cartoons tend to be exaggerated and for comedic effect, thus decreasing their utility to historians. They must be used in combination with a variety of other source types."

Awarded 8/8 in 2017

Q2. Explaining concepts e.g significance, change. 8 marks / 10 minutes

###Example questions (8 marks):
Explain the significance of Vesalius’ work for the development of medicine. (8 marks)
How significant is the case of Coventry in understanding how clean English towns were in the medieval period? (8 marks)
How significant was the work of Edward Jenner in the development of medicine? (8 marks)
Explain the significance of anaesthetics in the development of medicine? (8 marks)

Target: Explain and analyse historical events and periods studied using second-order concepts (continuity, change, cause, consequence, significance, similarity and difference) and demonstrate knowledge and understanding of key features and characteristics 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 due to differences such as time (short term/long term), social and/or economic impact. 7–8
Level 3: Developed explanation of changes, demonstrating a range of ARKU.
Students consider two or more 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

Example answer:
Explain the significance of Hippocratic and Galenic medicine from c.1000 a.d. [8 marks]

'The medical ideas created by Hippocrates and Galen were significant for a long time after their deaths, and formed the foundation of Medieval medicine, before they were challenged in the Renaissance. Perhaps most significantly, both Hippocrates’ and Galen’s theories were based on rational medicine and observation. Neither doctor believed in supernatural causes of illness. Hippocrates created the Four Humours Theory to explain the causes of illness, which he created by using clinical observation to observe the symptoms of his patients before offering treatments. Though the Four Humours was used after 1000 a.d., it was not Hippocrates’ version that was used. However, Hippocrates’ method of clinical observation was used after 1000 a.d. by doctors such as John of Arderne (who observed the causes of fistulas before treating them) and Guy de Chauliac (who observed the symptoms and treatments of the Black Death in the 1340s). This clinical observation method is very significant as it formed the basis of scientific observation of diseases, which has been used since 1000 a.d. and was transformed into the scientific method in the 18th century.

Galenic medicine was also influenced by Hippocrates’ theories of clinical observation and the Four Humours theory, but Galen transformed the Four Humours theory into the Opposite Humours theory, that proved to be far more widely used and therefore more significant in the Medieval period. His theory stated that when humours became unbalanced, and a patient had too much of one humour, they should be treated using an opposite humour, as well as reducing the unbalanced humours. This led Galen to suggest diet changes such as eating cool cucumbers if a person was suffering from a fever, as well as using bleeding and purging to reduce the amount of blood or yellow bile a person was suffering from. These methods, especially bleeding proved to be very popular right up until the 19th century, making them very significant to medicine after 1000 a.d.

The support of the Catholic Church helped make Hippocratic and Galenic medicine more significant as well, as the Church accepted Galen’s teachings as truth, making it very difficult for Medieval and even Renaissance doctors to challenge the ancient doctors. This slowed medical progress until after Vesalius, causing Galen’s teachings to remain a significant (if often incorrect) force in medicine for centuries.’

Awarded 8/8.

Q3: ‘Explain 2 ways in which X and Y were similar.’ 8 marks / 10 minutes.

(Key words: important; significant; affected by; similar)

Example Questions:
Explain two ways in which medieval hospitals and 18th century hospitals were similar. (8 marks)
Explain two reasons why improvements in Public Health in the 19th century and reasons for improvements in Public Health in the 20th century were similar. (8 marks)
Explain two reasons why opposition to vaccination and opposition to the use of anaesthetics were similar. (8 marks)


  1. X is similar to Y because they both…
  2. A second similarity between X and Y is …
  3. Optional /alternative - An additional similarity is that during … (refer to the relevant time periods - what other relevant events happened which link to this question?)
  4. Conclusion - Therefore, X and Y are (use the question word) because …

Mark scheme – ‘Explain 2 ways in which X and Y were similar.’ (only in HotP paper)
All levels require evidence of Accurate and Relevant Knowledge and Understanding (ARKU).
PEE paragraphs are expected.

Level 4: Complex explanation of similarities. Answer demonstrates a range of detailed ARKU. Answer gives 2 well-developed and supported points of similarity from the broader historical context (bigger picture) in GB supported by factual knowledge and understanding. 7-8
Level 3: Developed explanation of similarities: answer demonstrates a range of ARKU. Students show developed reasoning of two or more identified similarities, supported by factual knowledge and understanding. 5-6
Level 2: Simple explanation of one similarity. Answer demonstrates specific ARKU, giving a basic explanation of similarity by reasoning supported with factual knowledge and understanding. 3-4
Level 1: Students identify similarity/similarities, which are relevant to the question with basic/simple explanation. 1–2

Example answer:
Compare surgery and anatomy during the Renaissance with surgery and anatomy in the 19th century. In what ways were they similar? Explain your answer with reference to both periods. (8 marks)

'During the Renaissance anatomy progressed due to the innovations of Vesalius and his publication of the ‘Fabric of the Human Body’, which mapped out, in detailed drawings the human physiology and also disproved over 200 mistakes that Galen had made. In the 19th century anatomy progressed slightly but not significantly more than during the Renaissance, in the 19th century Vesalius’ ideas were still strongly held and his impact through things such as encouraging dissection in medical schools was still prevalent.

Surgery also, during the renaissance was also very similar to surgery in the 19th century when techniques and ideas were developed. Renaissance surgery and ideas can be shown through John Hunter who preached scientific technique and observation as well as the benefits of dissection. Hunter had an unrivalled knowledge of the human body and taught many other important figures such as Jenner. Hunter experimented and found new ideas much practised in 19th century surgery, for example he saved the life of a man with an aneurysm in his left thigh by tying a blood vessel and encouraging the blood to travel down a different way. Similarly, in 19th century surgery scientific technique and experiments were also encouraged and many key ideas and innovations were developed throughout this time period. Many ideas from the Renaissance were also recognised and developed; the fundamentals and development of surgery in both times was very similar.

Therefore, both surgery and anatomy in the Renaissance and the 19th century were incredibly similar with regards to ideas and techniques.’

Awarded 6/8. Summer 2018

Factors in history:

Science and Technology
Religion, Belief and Superstition
Money & the Economy
Significant individuals

Q4: Evaluation ‘iceberg’… the big ‘factors’ question. All papers. 25 minutes.

Example questions:
a) Has the role of the individual been the main factor in the development of medicine since medieval times? 16 marks + 4 spg / 25 minutes
b) Has science and technology been the main factor in understanding the causes of disease in Britain? Explain your answer with reference to science and technology and other factors. 16 marks + 4 spg. / 25 minutes

PEEL paragraphs and DARKU needed throughout your answer.

H&tP Tips:
•Try to include the beginning and end of the nineteenth century – a period of enormous change.
•Try to include some aspects of short term, and long term, change.

‘Has X been the main factor in causing Y? Explain your answer using your contextual knowledge and referring to X and other factors.’
Section 1: Explain, give details and examples about X and its positive contribution to Y.
(key words – important, influence, advances…)
Possible: Explain, giving details and examples, negative ways in which X affected Y.
(key words – however, challenge, limitations…).
Section 2: give at least 2 other factors which have also made a large contribution, explain how, giving several examples from a wide time period, appropriate to the question. (Key words – additionally, increasingly, effective, impact on…). This section will be several paragraphs and will support your judgement as to the main factor.
Section 3/conclusion: (Re)state your decision about the factor given in the question. Clearly state your preferred factor, summarise why, show that you understand the ‘bigger picture’.
PLUS – carefully check for accurate SPELLING, PUNCTUATION AND GRAMMAR – don’t throw away valuable marks when these will affect your grade.

Mark Scheme: Evaluation / Factors
Level 4: Complex explanation of stated factor/s and other factor/s leading to a sustained judgement. Answer demonstrates DARKU, with complex, sustained, logical and focused reasoning. Students provide a well-developed and supported analysis of the relationship between factors…13–16
Level 3: Developed explanation of the stated factor/s and other factor/s. Answer demonstrates DARKU with developed, supported, sustained and logical reasoning. Answers may suggest that one factor has greater merit. with extended reasoning supported by factual knowledge and understanding which might be related to the identified consequences. 9–12
Level 2: Simple explanation of the stated factor/s or other factor(s). Answer demonstrates specific ARKU with a simple, sustained, structured reasoning. 5-8
Level 1: Basic explanation of one or more factors. Answer demonstrates relevant basic knowledge and understanding, with a basic line of reasoning, which is coherent, structured with some support. Students recognise and provide a basic explanation which is relevant to one or more factor. 1–4.

Example answer:

Has science and technology been the main factor in understanding the causes of disease in Britain? Explain your answer with reference to science and technology and other factors. Use examples from your study of Health and the People. (16 marks + 4 SPaG)

'Science and technology have been hugely important in developing an understanding of the causes of disease in Britain, and the main factor as without science or technology, breakthroughs such as germ theory and the discovery of DNA would not have been possible.

Although the sciences of chemistry and biology have been vital in increasing our understanding of the causes of disease, the scientific method of experimentation and analysis has been the most important in discovering the causes of disease. For example, before Louis Pasteur’s work proving the existence of bacteria in his swan neck glass experiment, there was no clear understanding of the causes of infections. However, through testing and experimentation, Pasteur in 1861 proved that bacteria caused mould and not the other way round. In addition, Robert Koch’s experiments using staining techniques to identify specific bacteria causing specific illnesses such as tuberculosis was also due to the scientific method. However, technology also played a vital role in developing the understanding of the causes of disease, as without microscopes neither Pasteur nor Koch could have examined samples or germs. Equally, the much earlier development of the printing press allowed for accurate and rapid communication of their research, making it an important piece of technology in advancing our understanding of germs. X-ray crystallography and electron microscopes were also vital in the discovery and development of the theory of DNA and genetic diseases, so again technology played a large role in understanding causes of disease in Britain.

Another factor that is very important are the individuals themselves driving the discoveries. Genii such as Louis Pasteur, Robert Koch, Crick and Watson are all scientists who researched into and developed accurate theories about the causes of disease. However, while it could be argued that they were more important than the technology they used or the scientific method they experimented with, without sophisticated microscopes they would not have been able to see the germs or DNA helix. Equally, communication played a role in the development of British understanding of the causes of disease, as while individuals such as Lister (using Pasteur’s Germ Theory) did demonstrate the accuracy of germ theory, germ theory was discovered by Europeans and shared with British doctors. The discovery of DNA in 1953 by Crick and Watson was made in Britain.
A third factor that was important in helping scientists understand the causes of diseases was government support. Both Pasteur and Koch benefited from government support in the form of money and laboratory space, though Koch received more support than Pasteur did initially, as Pasteur developed his germ theory while working for a beer production company, and the French government only began funding his research after he published the Germ Theory in 1861. In contrast, Koch was supported by the German government from the beginning. Another factor that plays a role in government support is that of war, as the French had lost the Franco-Prussian War in 1876 and felt if Pasteur developed the germ theory faster than Koch then they would be ‘winning the peace.’ However, despite the usefulness of government support, it is unlikely that the government would have supported Pasteur or Koch if Pasteur had not made his breakthrough beforehand, meaning that government support was not as important as individual genius.

One factor that was a hindrance in the development of our understanding of the causes of disease is that of religion. In the Middle Ages, the Catholic Church intentionally slowed medical progress by claiming that either Galen’s Four Humours theory was correct or that God caused illness. This interdiction by the Church meant little to no medical progress was made before the Enlightenment and it was only with the growing appearance of scientists in the 18th and 19th centuries that allowed the development of a better understanding of the causes of disease.

Overall, the development of the understanding of the causes of disease was mainly due to science and technology, in particular the development of microscopes and the use of research methods to prove theories. Even though the individuals are important, without the technology to allow them to complete their research, they would not have been able to make the breakthroughs they did. Governments helped fund individuals by buying the technology they needed, but governments only entered the projects after they began. Equally communication was important, but only to communicate the proven theories to Britain or to distribute them around the world after 1953. Therefore, science and technology are the main reason causes of diseases are now understood.’

Awarded 14/16 SPG 4/4

Look out for some Knowledge Organisers for this paper - to be added in future.

Guidance for :
Elizabethan England
Conflict and Tension (WW1)

Germany 1890-1945
will follow.