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Key points in Chapter 8
• Source-based questions require the incremental development of defined skills. • They include an appreciation of context, comprehension, source evaluation and ability to come to a reasoned conclusion. • Good background knowledge is needed. • Class practice will develop and refine the defined skills. Overview by Neil Hart
N PREPARING FOR SOURCE-BASED QUESTIONS students should first be aware of the collections of material ...view middle of the document...
This has led to the conclusion that the rebel army was far from being an irresponsible peasant mob. On closer examination, however, among the names are those of officials against whom the rebels were complaining and those who helped suppress the rebellion. This would lead to the rather different conclusion that not all on the lists were active rebels, but that many individuals had taken advantage of a royal pardon to avoid future prosecution for actions before and during the rebellion, including its suppression. (R.A. Griffiths, The Reign of King Henry VI, pp 619-623.) Preparation may well be easier where examination boards provide collections of prescribed texts, with the assurance that the questions on examination papers will be based on these texts alone. It is even more helpful when there is a close identification of a section of the texts with a section of a paper. Other boards, whilst not prescribing texts, recommend collections of printed documents. Here, the students’ task may be a little more difficult but, with the necessary guidance, students can familiarise themselves with the texts which are likely to be put before them. It should be obvious that, for any special subject or depth study, certain documents are central and essential. The English Reformation of the 1530s could hardly be studied without reference to the Act in Restraint of Appeals or the Act of Supremacy. Similarly, the Nuremberg Laws are central to the understanding of Nazi anti-Semitism.
A hierarchy of skills
Needless to say, the techniques of handling source material should be tackled regularly in class, as well as by use of and familiarisation with past papers and trial examinations. Although there is a broadly similar policy towards sources on the part of the various examination boards, there are differences of style. Students should be aware of the approaches and question type offered by their particular board. However, virtually all provide a clutch of source material, amounting to a total maximum of about 600, with sub-questions carrying varying weight of marks. There is a hierarchy of skills in handling source material. At a lower level of difficulty, although vitally important, is comprehension. The passages need to be understood, particularly the key ideas, phrases and words. Language changes, and there are particular problems in the less modern periods.
Comprehending and comparing
‘Dearth’, for example, now commonly held to mean ’shortage’ was, in the sixteenth century, generally understood to mean ’dearness’. In Reading and noting page 2. Study guide, page Source-based questions,page X. Study guide page 38
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Advanced History Study Guide
studying a text such as the Discourse of the Common Weal, dealing as it does with Tudor inflation and other economic problems, a close understanding of language is essential. Besides being expected to have a general understanding of the...