Latest News Editor's Choice

Opinion / Columnist

How to pass O-Level History exams

20 Oct 2017 at 09:24hrs | Views
History belongs to the Humanities in the updated curriculum and success in the subject at ''Á'' Level alongside other subjects will lead one to a career in Law or the Social Sciences. Thus, it is incumbent upon the students to raise the bar in terms of answering these three-part questions as Part C prepares one for ''A'' Level History where one must look at both sides of an assertion and then reach value judgment based on a careful analysis of available evidence.

These last weeks before the onset of examinations are supposed to be used with care; it is that time that History students prepare discussions amongst themselves and give each other tasks; of course, the subject teacher monitors the discussions and offers help here and there but it is largely the students themselves who must be charting their destinies.

It is noteworthy that the Iron Age states in Zimbabwe, namely Great Zimbabwe, Mutapa and Rozvi, have a lot in common especially with regards to economic activities and social organization. Therefore, a study of these three states must open a student's eyes to the possibility of getting at least two questions from these important states in our history. However, students have to look into the origins of the three states and compare and contrast the political systems of the same.

One interesting aspect of colonial Zimbabwean History is the era of the Federation which students must dissect as we go towards the examinations. They must ask themselves hard questions such as:

(i) What were the reasons for the establishment of the Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland?

(ii) How did the Africans respond to the advent of the Federation and how did the white man react to the native resistance?

(iii) What are the developments which occurred during the years of the Federation in the three territories, economically, socially and politically and evaluate the Federation's impact on the Africans and whites in the three territories?

(iv) Assess the importance of the Federation to Southern Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia and Nyasaland.

Students must expect two questions derived from this topic. If you have done it, it is advisable to just have a look at it and check on previous exam papers on how the questions are asked. Remember, History is a content subject. There are no two ways about it; one has to study and know. Call it cramming if you will but to me, History requires extensive readers who read widely and they are able to link today's events to yesterday's heroics or villainous deeds. That way, we are able to know our heroes and villains.

International Affairs is 2167-2 and to many people it is European History but that is a misnomer of huge proportions. This paper exposes students to the world which is composed of more than five continents. A cursory glance at the topics shows that almost all continents are captured in the syllabus. Students of International Relations will testify to the need for one to have an appreciation of International Affairs to be of relevance to her study of the phenomenon.

Question 1 and 2 look at the causes and course of World One; they go on to handle the effects of the war from the perspectives of social, economic and political results. Again, the skills based approach to answering the three parts of the question is of fundamental importance.

Causes of the First War are in two parts, viz long-term and the immediate cause. It is advisable for students to look at the systems of alliances popularised by Otto Von Bismarck, the Eastern Question (Balkan crises in all their forms), the Young Turkish revolution and the Kaiser's recklessness as he remained a dog of war, as some of the topics that examiners may ask questions from.

The Sarajevo Assassination is a popular topic and students have to follow the proceedings from the events of June 28 when the heir to the Austrian throne, Francis Ferdinand and his wife, Sophia, were killed by a Bosnia-Serb, GavrilloPrincip, a member of the Black Hand, a virulent nationalist organisation, based in Serbia to the outbreak of the Great War.

Part C of the questions may zero in on "tension" in the world especially due to the crisis. To illustrate, "How far did the Turkish revolution increase tension in Europe at that time?''

In such a scenario, the students advance facts to prove that the Young Turk revolution ignited fires of mistrust between the two opposing groups in Europe. A student has to use her knowledge of the system of alliances and the sense of militancy surrounding the continent as a result of competing countries in Europe.

She shows the slow but sure resurgence of friendship between Turkey and the Germanic countries of Austria-Hungary and Germany and how Serbia's dream of a South Slav state being supported by the Christian European nations whose religion was at the cross roads against Islam sowed seed of tension in the Balkans

For her analysis to be complete, the student has to acknowledge that there are other factors which made tension rise in Europe and these include the raging colonial arms, arms and navy rivalries between the European great powers.

Some historians intimate on the devil theory where arms manufacturers relished the prospect of war for them to line their pockets from the profits that accrued after a war had started when countries bought arms of war from their factories. A case in point is Alfred Nobel, a Swede who made an enormous fortune from his sales of arms.

Question 2 normally centres on the war itself and its aftermath. Popular topics include the war at sea which ultimately led to the USA joining the war in 1917 after Germany continued with its unrestricted submarine warfare. It is argued that the USA joined the war because Germany had proved intransigent in its war against the Allies so much that it did not want to forestall the unrestricted submarine warfare.

Nevertheless, a smart observer would note that America is a product of European hegemony and thus could not allow the Old World lose the war while she had the wherewithal to stop that.

We will continue with the next week. In the meantime, please study the notes your teacher gave you but it is important to understand the Part C requirements. Look at both sides of the question. Show whether it is to a greater extent that the entry of the USA into the war in 1917 made Germany lose the war.

One would be wrong to conclude that it was the sole reason but a widely read student would include other reasons such as Germany having to fight along very weak allies such as Turkey and Austria-Hungary.

Till next week, I urge you to reflect on what you learn from History and how the subject is important in the development of our country.

Source - manicapost
All articles and letters published on Bulawayo24 have been independently written by members of Bulawayo24's community. The views of users published on Bulawayo24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Bulawayo24. Bulawayo24 editors also reserve the right to edit or delete any and all comments received.