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Preparing for the DSE History Exam

This blog is particularly for students who are preparing for their DSE History examinations.

K. W. Ho from King’s Glory Educational Centre and H. Y. Fung from Modern Education have put together some really helpful tips to aid students as they embark on this challenging paper. The DSE History curriculum focuses on the founding of the League of Nations in 1920, China’s revolution before 1949, post-war European cooperation after 1945, and Japan’s post-war development after 1945 in paper 1. Paper 2 will concentrate on Hong Kong politics, Japan’s modernisation in the 20th century, the second world war, China’s post-1949 reform and revolution, the Cold War, and the start of the European Union.

While examiners are not looking for a regurgitated version of dates and facts, they are looking for students to articulately state the importance of the major events discussed. The goal is that students must understand and analyse what they have learned, rather than just learning it parrot-style.

How Is the Paper Structured? Paper 1: Students will be allocated 105 minutes to complete this paper.

This first paper is worth 60% of a student’s final grade and is made up of data-based questions. For every correct answer, the student will be awarded two marks.

Paper 2: Students will be allocated 90 minutes to complete this paper. This second paper is worth 40% of a student’s final mark and is comprised of seven questions. Students will be asked to choose two out of the seven questions and then write an essay to answer them.

General Tips

  • Since paper one is short questions, while paper two consists of essay type questions, it goes without saying that it will be easier to score marks in paper one. For this reason, we recommend that students place a heavier emphasis on paper one.

  • To maximise points, it is crucial that students recognise keywords in the questions and ensure they are acknowledging and answering these keywords. This can be the difference between achieving a higher or a lower grade.

  • While sources will be provided, students should not rely on these alone. We recommend looking at the written texts first when you sit down to write the exam but keep in mind that information that is not included in the sources could add to your score too. Be sure to study the full course material thoroughly so you are also able to draw on your knowledge for the answers.

  • Some of the data-based questions in paper one are known to be tricky so read the questions carefully. Identify the keywords, look at the questions words and do not write without thinking. Sometimes reading a question through twice can be the difference between answering the question correctly or completely missing the mark.

  • Since there is a lot of material to get through in the exam, and it would be a shame to miss out on marks due to time mismanagement, students need to be mindful of the way they split their time. Before they begin writing, students should allocate time per question.

  • For the essay questions in paper 2, essay structure is very important. Students need to begin their essay by writing a precise and clear topic sentence, and then move on to providing the evidence that responds to the question. It’s important to include two or three reasons for each side of the argument. Evidence should be in the form of facts and examples. The essay should end with a conclusion which is likely a sentence that also links back to the original question.

We Can Help

We offer exam prep for the DSE curriculum. For more information on our 2021 end of year courses, please call us at +852 2383 0300 or WhatsApp +852 92983538.



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