Analytical writing is necessary in academic writing to demonstrate the relationships between different pieces of information. It is used to compare and contrast, assess or evaluate various approaches, theories, methodologies, or outcomes. It follows a structured approach that organizes main ideas in relation to each other and utilizes evidence from multiple sources.

Typically, analytical writing:

  • establishes connections between individual pieces of information by identifying main points and categorizing information under these main points or conceptual categories.
  • structures the writing by ordering the main points or concepts in relation to each other.
  • often places the identified concepts at the beginning of the sentence in a thematic position.
  • uses comparative and contrastive language to express the relationships between different pieces of information, such as comparative and contrastive conjunctions, adverbs, and adjectives.
  • uses evidence from multiple sources to support the assertions made. Analytical writing provides more flexibility than descriptive writing to showcase your own voice and interpretation of the source material.

However, your readers may not be able to detect your academic/analytical voice if you:

  • have not clearly stated a position and developed arguments to support it.
  • have not explicitly made judgments about the material you are presenting.
  • have not attempted to persuade your readers – you are still primarily just informing them. Source: “3. Analytical Writing - Page 1”, Writesite.Elearn.Usyd.Edu.Au, last modified 2017, accessed June 2, 2017,

What are the characteristics of a good History essay?

  • It presents a clear and firmly expressed argument in the introduction and conclusion.
  • It elaborates on, justifies, and defends the argument throughout the body of the essay.
  • It has a well-structured organization of ideas and topics that demonstrates careful thinking and planning.
  • It supports its arguments and statements with evidence, such as quotations, historians’ ideas, statistics, and references to documents.
  • It uses clear language that effectively conveys meaning without becoming overly complex or vague.
  • It analyzes events by considering their significance and reasons behind them, rather than simply describing them.
  • It references the evidence used and includes a bibliography of all sources used in research. A History lecturer once compared the process of essay writing to building a house. Just as a house requires tools, ingredients, and a blueprint, an essay requires careful planning, research, and a solid foundation. The strength of an essay comes from the evidence used, and it takes time and effort to construct a well-crafted essay. The information provided on the following pages aims to help you develop a better understanding of the mechanics of writing good History essays. It may be lengthy and detailed, but that reflects the complexity involved in writing History essays. WRITING A PARAGRAPH Many students make the mistake of thinking that paragraphs in History essays should be short and contain only snippets of information. However, in a History essay, paragraphs are like mini-essays themselves. They introduce a point, expand and explain it, discuss its significance, support ideas with evidence, and then link back to the main argument and question. A paragraph is almost like a self-contained mini-essay. The difference between description and analysis The ability to analyze and evaluate is what sets apart average History students from exceptional ones. While it is easy to describe what happened at a particular event or discuss the quirks of individuals, the focus in History is on understanding why events occurred, their causes and consequences, their significance, and their connections to other key events, ideas, or leaders. Critical evaluation is the goal, rather than simply storytelling. To achieve analysis and evaluation instead of description, consider the following points:
  • Use one sentence to describe or explain an event, person, or policy.
  • Then, consider the causes or motivations behind the event, person, or policy.
  • Next, examine the effects or outcomes that were stimulated by the event, person, or policy.
  • Look for connections and links to other events, people, groups, or policies.
  • Explore different perspectives and interpretations of the event, investigating their merit.
  • Finally, explain the significance or meaning of the event and compare it to other factors.

Using evidence Including evidence in your coursework and assessment tasks is essential for several reasons:

  • It adds complexity, depth, detail, substance, and validity to your work.
  • It demonstrates that you have thoroughly researched the topic and possess sound historical skills.
  • It supports your arguments and makes them appear solid, convincing, and justifiable.
  • It distinguishes your work as original research, rather than ideas copied from elsewhere.
  • The ability to use evidence is a crucial skill in tertiary studies across various disciplines and professions. From a teacher’s perspective, it is frustrating to read an essay that showcases strong knowledge of events but lacks evidence to support or justify that knowledge.

So, when should you use evidence?- There are no specific guidelines for when to use evidence in an essay, but it is generally not recommended to introduce new material in the conclusion. You can incorporate the views of other historians in your introduction and conclusion, either by contradicting them or offering them as an alternative. This can be an effective technique.

So how do you incorporate evidence into your essays?

  • The first step is to prepare by gathering a range of facts, events, quotes, examples, figures, etc. Taking notes, highlighting phrases in texts, and collecting and organizing quotes are important steps before writing essays and exams. Having a variety of evidence to draw upon will make your writing stronger. Organizing evidence into themes or sub-topics will make it easier to access. For example: Social, Political, Cultural, Minorities, Economic, etc.

  • Signpost your evidence and analysis. It is helpful for both you and the reader to use phrases like “An example of this is…” or “This was evident in…” or “As was seen when/in…” or “However…” or “Another key point…“. These signposts signal to the reader that an important point is coming up. Examiners and teachers appreciate signposts because they provide structure to your argument.


  • Understanding the wording of the question: It is important to highlight and understand the question properly. Pay attention to command terms like “one/two wars” or “different regions” to avoid misinterpreting the question.

  • Planning the essay

  • Writing a strong introduction

  • Avoiding irrelevance: Stay focused on the topic and avoid going off on tangents.

  • Avoiding a narrative-based answer: Instead of simply telling a story, approach the essay thematically by categorizing events into themes like political, military, economic, social, long term, short term, strengths, weaknesses, causes, effects, ideology, etc. This will create a more sophisticated and analytical essay.

  • Using your own knowledge analytically and combining it with awareness of historical debate.

  • Writing a strong conclusion

Always remember to RTBQ and ATBQ (Read the question and Answer the question). Here are some ways to approach your question:

  • Identify the problem suggested by the question.
  • Determine the angle or issue that makes the question interesting.
  • Consider your initial reaction to the question: yes, no, maybe?
  • Reflect on whether you agree or disagree with the contention or interpretation suggested by the topic.
  • Explore ideas and issues by answering the question.
  • Consider if there is a simple answer or if it is more complex than it appears.
  • Identify the types of information the question is asking you to use.
  • Determine the themes you can explore.

ESSAY WRITING WITH TEAC There are various essay writing frameworks available, but the TEAC model provides a more sophisticated and analytical approach for IB History essays. TEAC stands for:

  • Topic sentence, Theme, Thesis
  • Evidence, Evaluation, Example and Explanation
  • Analysis and Assessment
  • Conclusion

A clear first sentence should convey the key point (thesis) of the paragraph. A thematic approach is stronger than a simple narrative account. Categorizing events into themes like political, military, economic, social, etc. will produce a more sophisticated and analytical essay.

Evidence, Evaluation, Example and Explanation should include statistics, quotes, years, events, and people. Use sentence starters like “An example of this is…”, “It can be seen that…”, “This is illustrated by…”, “As shown by…”, “For example…”, “As historian XYZ stated…”, etc. This is where you demonstrate your knowledge.

Analysis and Assessment: Every IB History essay requires you to make a judgment. Simply regurgitating everything you know is not enough. You need to place your knowledge into context, analyze its significance, determine what is more or less important, and assess its effects or reasons.

Note that E and A are intertwined.

Conclusion: Always stay focused on addressing the essay statement. Conclude each paragraph with something that links to either your topic sentence or the essay statement itself. You can reuse some of the key words from the essay statement, but avoid using them verbatim as it is too simplistic. Also, pay attention to the command term of the question and do what you are “commanded” to do.

  • Analyze
  • Compare & contrast
  • Discuss
  • Evaluate
  • Examine
  • To what extent

SOME GOOD LINKS Signpost your argument. Here is a great list of signposting words: You can print it off!

Monash University has a clear and informative website about academic writing. This page provides guidance on how to analyze a historical argument:

You can find printable information from Monash here: