IGCSE History
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Exams and Revision

IGCSE History Exams

Mr Jones-Nerzic's top revision topics for May 2006!

What is going to be on the exam Paper 1 for 2006? Unfortunately neither I nor any other teacher can tell you. However, I do know what has been on the exam paper since 2000 (International Relations and Germany) and I know what the syllabus says! Examiners are keen to make sure all parts of the syllabus are covered and even after 12 exam papers not everything has been. See past paper patterns for International Relations and Germany and then look closely at the syllabus, especially the 'specified content'.

A Jones-Nerzic Health Warning: Exam question spotting can seriously damage your grades!

International Relations 1919-91 

There will be five topics that you might be able to do and you will need to be able to answer two questions. You are guaranteed two questions covering the three pre-1945 topics

  • Were the Peace Treaties of 1919-23 fair?
  • To what extent was the League of Nations a success?
  • Why had international peace collapsed by 1939?

These questions are often made up from parts of each of the three topics. Therefore you have to revise all three topics thoroughly.

The most important thing is to answer the question set (ATBQ). Therefore it is very important that you understand the question set. If you have any doubts about meaning, leave the question well alone. Unless the question is identical to a question you have prepared in advance, do not be tempted to use a pre-prepared answer

  • What caused the First World War has been on every exam paper as question 4 since this new syllabus began in 2000. I suppose it has to be missing at some point but this would be a very unpopular decision. For the 5 and 7 mark question can you answer all the previous questions? What has not been asked previously? (This is also worth asking of all the topics below) The 8 mark question always requires an evaluation of one factor as a cause of war.  Because this is such a predictable question expect the examiners to add a twist to the question. If in doubt do not attempt. I can't think of many new ways of asking this question. Study all past papers.
  • Peace Treaties has not been fully assessed for our exam since summer 2003. It was also left off the recent November paper, so it might be a good possibility this time. As last year expect a 'part' question and a focus on the other treaties for 5 or 7 marks. The specified content states: 'The peace treaties of 1919-23 (Versailles, St. Germain, Trianon, Neuilly, Sevres and Lausanne)'. Also consider the 8 mark question of whether is was a good treaty.
  • League of Nations is the 20th century equivalent of WWI in that a question appears almost every time. There has been at least a part question 11 times out of 12! Manchuria and Abyssinia might be combined with the causes of WWII topic. The eight mark question almost always asks for an evaluation of the successes and failures of the League and whether it was doomed from the start (How far did weaknesses in the League's organisation make failure inevitable?) or might have survived had it not been for the Depression (How far did the Depression make the work of the League more difficult?). It might also be split into 1920s and 1930s. This page and the following are important and include a number of links to outstanding revision pages in John D Clare.
  • Causes of WWII is almost as popular as causes of WWI.  Expect a part question. Remember the 6 factors which caused the war? Last summer all of the factors have been covered in the 8 mark question except Nazi Soviet Pact and the Depression. Guess what appeared on last summer and the November papers?! Like WWI they are running out of new ways of asking this question! And as with the WWI question expect the examiners to include a more difficult question to make you think. (e.g. the 'Hitler was a gambler' question in May 2003) 
  • Cold War blame was on last May and in 2004 and not last November. Worth revising as a back-up. 
  • Vietnam and Cuba. Vietnam was on last November, Cuba last summer. The examiners leave this off the exam paper occasionally (it is on 3 out 4 times and they know students like it. However Cuba is the focus on Paper 2. They doubles up on WWI last summer (it was on Paper 1 and 2) they could do the same but I think it unlikely.
  • USSR and Eastern Europe is as unpopular as Cuba and Vietnam are popular. Hasn't been on since November 2004, expect it this time.  
  • UNO has not been on any summer paper since May 2003. It was on November 2005. Again a strong possibility but would they put both unpopular (UNO and Eastern Europe) on this paper? In previous years if it appears in November it comes again in May!

My prediction for May 2005

  1. No WWI this time. If it is on expect something tough from the specified content.
  2. League of Nations 1920s mixed with Peace Treaties?
  3. Causes of WWII mixed with LoN (see Nov 2002)? 
  4. Cold War Blame/Vietnam
  5. UNO.

Should you only revise these topics? Absolutely not. There are 7 topics (key questions) in this part of the syllabus. You should insure you have thoroughly revised at least 4 topics. You should also revise the whole of topic 3, 'Why had international peace collapsed by 1939?'. This is an important topic, a topic we have spent a long time on and a topic you should do well.

Germany 1919-45

With Germany it is much more difficult to select the topics that are most useful to revise. It is therefore important that your revision covers everything. There will be only two questions and you will only need to answer only one of them. Something on Weimar has come up regularly and is obviously popular but has been on the last two papers.  There has never been a question on Weimar culture even though this is a 'focus point' and specified content. Rise to power hasn't been on the last two papers, so must be a strong possibility this time. Go back to the Nazis in the 1920s to make sure you cover all possibilities. 

My prediction for May 2004

  1. Hitlers Rise to Power. 
  2. You must cover all post 1934 content. Coercion, persuasion and consent. Print out and learn your completed table thoroughly. The question of 'totalitarianism' has never been examined (apart from 'total control' last November 2004) and neither has economic policy including re-armament. Women, children and (in particular) the war years are worth revising thoroughly.

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