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IB History Essay Markscheme Guide


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Hello IB Survival. :) My HL History teacher, who has taught IB history for years, created a general markband guide for marking history essays, and I felt I should share it with you all on here. This is by no means the official IB rubric, but rather a "guide" that you should aim for when writing your essays.

IB Essay Markbands

IB 1, IB 2


  • You do not understand the question. You do not have an argument.
  • You might include some historical facts, but they are wrong or irrelevant.
  • You do not show that you understand what else is going on at the same time (historical context).
  • You do not talk about different interpretations of the topic.

1-2 Marks:

  • Answers lack understanding of the demands of the question or accurate/relevant historical knowledge.
  • Answers show little or no evidence of structure and consist of little more than unsupported generalizations.

3-4 Marks:

  • Answers reveal little understanding of the question.
  • While historical details are present, they are largely inaccurate and/or of marginal relevance to the task.
  • There is little or no understanding of historical context of historical processes.
  • While there may be recognizable essay structure, answers consist of little more than poorly substantiated assertions.

IB 3


  • You have kind of understood the question, but not really.
  • You use hardly any historical facts.
  • Barely any reference to interpretations of the topic.
  • Badly structured.

5-6 Marks:

  • Answers indicate some understanding of the question.
  • There is some accurate historical knowledge, but detail is insufficient.
  • Understanding of historical processes and (where appropriate) comparison and contrast may be present, but underdeveloped.
  • While there may be a recognizable essay structure, the question is only partially addressed.

IB 4


  • You show a general, but very basic understanding of the question.
  • There is an argument, but it is not well supported by historical evidence (facts) OR it is a narrative description of the events with accurate facts but no analysis (you do not show HOW this answers the question).

7-8 Marks:

  • Answers indicate that the demands of the question are generally understood.
  • Relevant in-depth historical knowledge is present but is unevenly applied throughout.
  • Answers are presented in a narrative or descriptive manner. Alternatively, there is a limited argument that requires further substantiation. Some attempt at analysis may be present but limited.
  • There has been some attempt to place events in their historical context and to show an understanding of historical processes and (where appropriate) comparison and contrast.
  • There is evidence of an attempt to follow a structured approach, either chronological or thematic.

IB 5

  • You understand the question, but there are some ways of looking at it that you have left out.
  • You did place events in their historical context (showing what was going on at the time).
  • You use accurate and relevant facts to support your points. Chronology is accurate as shown by cause and effect relationships.
  • There is a thematic structure (it is split into factors) or, if it is chronological, then there is clean analysis of each event.
  • All criteria must be met.

9-11 Marks:


  • Answers indicate that the demands of the question are understood and addressed, though not all implications are considered.
  • Relevant, largely accurate in-depth historical knowledge is present and applied as evidence.
  • Critical commentary (analysis) indicates some understanding.
  • Events are placed in their historical context. There is an understanding of historical processes and (where appropriate) comparison and contrast.
  • There may be some awareness of different approaches to, and interpretations of historical issues and events. However, responses that mainly summarize the views of historians and use these as a substitute for, rather than a supplement to, the deployment of historical knowledge can not reach the top of this band.
  • There is a clear attempt to structure answers chronology or thematically. Synthesis is present but underdeveloped.

12-14 Marks:

  • Answers are clearly focused responses to the demands of the questions.
  • Relevant, in-depth historical knowledge is applied as evidence.
  • Critical commentary (analysis) indicates some understanding, but it is not consistent throughout.
  • Events are placed in their historical context. There is a sound understanding of historical processes and (where appropriate) comparison and contrast.
  • There may be awareness and some evaluation of different approaches to, and interpretations of historical issues and events. These are used to supplement, in a relevant manner, the arguments presented.

IB 6


  • You show a good understanding of the question.
  • Your essay has clear structure which really helps you answer it.
  • The argument is well-developed and well supported by the BEST facts, many details, and accurate chronology to prove your point.
  • Different interpretations of the topic are considered and, where relevant, placed in their historical context.
  • All underlined criteria must be met.

15-17 Marks:

  • Answers are clearly focused responses, showing a high degree of awareness of the demands of the question. Where appropriate, answers may challenge the assumptions in the question successfully.
  • In-depth and accurate historical knowledge is applied consistently and convincingly to support analysis. Events are placed in their historical context. There is a clear understanding of historical processes and (where appropriate) comparison and contrast.
  • There may be evaluation of different approaches to, and interpretations of historical issues and events. This evaluation is integrated effectively into the answer to support and supplement the argument.
  • Answers are well-structured and clearly expressed, using evidence to support relevant, balanced, and focused arguments. Synthesis is well-developed, with knowledge and analysis fully and effectively integrated.

IB 7

Meets all the above criteria for a 6, but everything is done to a really high level. Your argument is really strong and well-supported. You also need to do one or more of the following:

18-20 Marks:

  • Show a high level of conceptual ability, possibly by challenging the assumptions implied in the question using evidence. (e.g. "Was terror the main reason why Hitler successfully controlled the German people?" assumes that he was successful, which a 7 candidate might challenge, at least in the concluding paragraph.)
  • Show awareness of the reasons why there are differing and contrasting historical interpretations, going beyond identifying those interpretations and historians.
  • Fully and effectively combine knowledge and analysis (highly developed synthesis).

Edited by emyski
  • Like 9
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Hey!

While I think your posting this mark band is very kind and thoughtful of you to do, I think your teacher duped you guys to an extent. This is copied word for word from my History essay writing guide that I picked up from OSC at Oxford way back in 2008...But its still good advice though! Just thought that your teacher may have omitted to mention his sources to you. :)

Arrowhead.

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  • 3 months later...

I have a question. What happens if you missed out on a part of the question or did not address that part at all, but your essay is otherwise good with arguments supported by evidence and a good structure? How many marks will you lose?

The guide says, under an IB5, "You understand the question, but there are some ways of looking at it that you have left out."

So I think the maximum would be a 14. Does this answer your question?

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Okey yeap that's what I thought. You see our teacher told us we would get a 0 if we do not answer everything in the question, but I think she was just trying to emphasize the importance of reading the question properly! Thanks!

Yeah I think you're right, that seems way too harsh. Maybe if you don't answer the question asked and go on some different question you might get a 0, but there's no way that missing out a part of a question will take your mark to a 0.

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  • 2 years later...

My teacher said there is no way to get above a 5 if you don't answer the question. 

 

Is it true that you need historiography in order to move from a 6 to a 7?

 

No, there are other ways to go from a 6 to a 7. Beyond critical examination of historiography, these include challenging the question, a meaningful conclusion, or very strong conceptual understanding.

 

I also have a quick question. In subject reports, the markband for a 7 is shown to be 13/20 or more on each essay - on the other hand, in this guide it is shown to be 18/20 or more, while at my own school it is defined to be 17/20 or more.  Does anyone know why these variant boundaries using the same rubric are the case?

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My teacher said there is no way to get above a 5 if you don't answer the question. 

 

Is it true that you need historiography in order to move from a 6 to a 7?

 

No, there are other ways to go from a 6 to a 7. Beyond critical examination of historiography, these include challenging the question, a meaningful conclusion, or very strong conceptual understanding.

 

I also have a quick question. In subject reports, the markband for a 7 is shown to be 13/20 or more on each essay - on the other hand, in this guide it is shown to be 18/20 or more, while at my own school it is defined to be 17/20 or more.  Does anyone know why these variant boundaries using the same rubric are the case?

 

 

I posted this a long time ago, and found out that this is what my teacher used in class to grade essays, and isn't the "official" markscheme that IB would use when grading your papers. Not sure how to explain the variations other than perhaps my teacher was looking for an easier way to score essays in class since we used big IB-style essays as our class tests at the end of each new chapter.

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  • 4 months later...
Hi,

 

i've uploaded my notes and summaries for History and Economics for IB and A-Level examinations here:

 


 

Among other topics, you'll find:

 

  • The Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • The origins of the Cold War
  • Revolution in Cuba
  • Dètente between East and West (1962-1975)
  • The “Second Cold War†Renewed Tension Between East and West, 1975-1984
  • Vietnam - USA Containment in the Southeast Pacific
  • Fall of USSR (Part 1) - Gorbachev and the end of communist rule
  • Fall of USSR (Part 2) - The collapse of the USSR and the end of communist rule
  • The Sino-Soviet Split: origins and main features.
  • China - Reforms and Modernization After Mao
  • ECONOMICS: Government macroeconomic policy objectives and indicators of national economic performance
 

Hope you find them useful

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