Learn Mojo's guide to upper sec History Elective/Social Studies structured essay question (SEQ) skills Part 2

(This post by Miss Karen Goh first appeared here on Domain of Singapore Tutoring Experts on 23 August 2014.)

(To read part 1, please visit HERE.)

6. The 3-Step Process for SEQs


[3 minutes]

The point of the previous step, Understanding the Question, is to understand the question so that you:

• Link back to the issue in every paragraph.

• Explain both given factors, if any.

• Use the associated words in all your explanations.

Next, you plan your essay.


[10 minutes]

Plan your essay in paragraphs using the above PEEL framework for each paragraph.Again, OMIT THIS STEP AT THE EXAMS. THIS STEP ONLY APPLIES TO PRE-EXAM PRACTICES.

No need complete sentences,

List points,

Use your own short form.

As long as you understand your own plan, it’s cool ;)


[15-17 minutes]

Write out the essay in complete sentences, based on your essay plan which has been PEELed.

I cannot over-emphasize that you must remember to ANSWER THE QUESTION in every paragraph. Do that by copying words in the question. It may be robotic, but it prevents you from getting zero or L1 mark.

7. Suggested Explanation SEQ LORMs

I’m going to give you a peek into the exam marker’s mind. As he/she reads your answer, he/she places parts of your answer in the appropriate level.

This decision is based on what Level of thinking they see in your answer. Refer to the Descriptors in bold in the table below.

That is why you see L1, L2, L3, etc scattered throughout your essay. From there, the marker will allocate a Mark within that Level, based on the quality of your evidence and explanation.

The highest Level and Mark you hit anywhere in your answer will be the final mark you get.

ZERO marks are allocated if student does not answer the question explicitly.

It’s important to EXPLAIN because answers that only describe (i.e. just state what happened) won’t get more than L2/4m, even if the student talks about a zillion factors.

The PEEL framework helps you avoid this mistake by making you think about your explanation before the exam.

That’s the end of the SEQ guide. Give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far!

8. Practice

Take a break, and then do try the following:

• Set 15 minutes on your mobile phone timer.

• Do only Steps 1-2 for the question below.

Qn) Explain how Hitler maintained control over Germany. (8m)

Hint: key word is MAINTAINED.

-The End-


About The Author

Karen Goh spent her early student life at Dunman High School and Hwa Chong Junior College. Like many of the students she has taught, she was a Pure Science student in secondary school. A love for reading and history led her to the Arts stream in Hwa Chong JC, and to major in English Language and Political Science in NUS. She also has a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education from NIE.

She was with MOE from January 2005 to December 2012, teaching secondary school students of all abilities History and Social Studies. Majority of her graduating students scored distinctions.

She started Learnmojo as a way for to share all that she knows about scoring in History and Social Studies, gleaned from her years of teaching experience. She believes that the Do It Yourself (DIY) method should be a first resort before parents rush out to hire tutors.

The DIY method = students doing consistent practices and getting feedback from their school teacher.

She shares free advice and tips to parents and students on her email list, so hop on over to www.learnmojo.com to sign up.

For students who find it a challenge to adopt the DIY method, she does offer paid online coaching in Lower Secondary History and Upper Secondary History Elective and Social Studies. These students need someone other than their school teacher to nag cajole them into doing consistent practices and give detailed feedback on their work, but are do not have the time to sign up for yet another tuition class. Online coaching is a flexible way for them to get the advice and input they need to improve their grades.

Feel free to email karen@learnmojo.com if you have a burning question about History and Social Studies.


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