Foundation for the History of Totalitarianism

Essay competition:
Jung Chang and the Cultural revolution

Some tips for writing the sort of essay we are looking for

Don’t tell the reader what you are going to do. Just do it! Some schools teach students to start by describe what they are going to write before writing it. That approach is not suitable for this competition. We place a high value on the essay being readable.

Don’t make your essay into the answer to a question you have invented. The distinct characteristic of our essay competition is that no question is posed (usually). We want a good description of what happened plus your observations and reflections.

Don’t use acronyms or foreign words without explaining what they mean. You should explain the meaning the first time an acronym or foreign word is used.

Do put foreign words in italics unless they are in common usage in Britain. So, Sturmabteilung should be in italics but Gestapo should not.
Don’t write long, convoluted sentences. They don’t make you sound clever. They make your essay less readable.

Do write a strong, attention-getting introduction. This can be done in a variety of ways. You could start with an anecdote which illustrates a point you will make in your essay. You could start with a striking quotation. Or you could begin with one of your main observations about the subject.

Do write a strong conclusion. Don’t just repeat what you have already said.

Don’t spend a lot of time going discussing the views of various historians. We want your own interpretation of events based on your own analysis. We want a history essay not historiography.

Don’t used long, pretentious words. It just makes you sound…pretentious.

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