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YEAR 9 (1)

Age 13-14 

(Corresponds to IGCSE 19th century core content and World War 1 depth study).

(1) Background to the 1948 revolutions. Were the Revolutions of 1848 important? How was Italy unified? How was Germany unified?

(2) Why, and with what effects, did Europeans expand their overseas empires in the 19th century? What caused the First World War?

(3) Progress of World War 1. Why was the war not over by December 1914? Why was there stalemate on the Western Front? How important were other fronts? Why did Germany ask for an armistice in 1918?


Europe: revolution and unification The Revolutions of 1848; Italian Unification; German unification; American Civil War  Europe:

Empire and War European Imperial expansion (French and Germans in N. Africa, Dutch in S. Africa; Germans in E. Africa and Far East; Russo-Japanese War

Causes of WW1 

Secondary level history The UK exams are rather notorious for focusing entirely on the history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. However, I would argue that so long as your child has managed to cover a broad sweep of history as recommended here, it is actually quite reasonable to find yourself arriving, at ages 14-16, at just the place you are required to be: modern history. The history exams are also notorious for requiring a very specific kind of exam technique: examiners expect answers to be given in a certain way (particularly where interpretation of sources is involved). This may be a good thing or a bad thing, but personally I have found that the level of detailed knowledge expected, and the requirement to answer in a very focused and reasoned way (in IGCSE at least) make these good exams to tackle.

Textbooks IGCSE History is not the best served subject when it comes to textbooks. Both Edexcel and CIE adopt a similar approach in terms of syllabus content, with a study of ‘Core Content’ and then more detailed ‘Depth Studies’ (see the relevant exam board for the specification you need). The problem with the textbooks is that they tend to cover one or other of these, and if they do cover depth studies it is usually only a selection. Thus, a book marketed as ‘Edecxel IGCSE History’ may well cover only a selection of the syllabus – and it may not be the selection you have opted for. CIE have recently improved a little on this situation with the release of ’20th Century History’ by Cantrell. It’s not an astounding book but at least it actually covers the whole syllabus (for 2015 onwards) and has plenty of discussion questions and tasks. Having prepared a child for this exam before the publication of this book I have no doubts that it’s made my job easier! As far as I know there is as yet no similar book covering the 19th century paper, but hopefully there is one in the pipeline.

A teacher who is very popular tutor amongst the home-education community was so frustrated at the lack of a decent textbook for the 19th Century option that she wrote her own. It may not be endorsed by the exam board but it is very thorough and covers the whole CIE syllabus for 19th century. The title is: History for Teens: The 19th Century (1848 – 1914) by Taryn Earley. I haven’t read this yet, but intend to acquire it for next year’s study.

The book ‘International Relations since 1919’ by Tony McAleavy is very useful for a more detailed overview of this particular subject.

I’ve written a weekly schedule with questions based directly on the CIE syllabus and using Cantrell as a main text with McAleavy in support. Here you will find the schedule for Depth Study A (First World War) and the first three topics of the 20th Century Core paper. By the way, for Paper 1, you are guaranteed that of the four questions set on the 20th Century Core content, two will be on pre war and two on post war topics (war here meaning World War II). In effect this means that you can study either pre war or post war if you are prepared to completely sacrifice choice in the exam (i.e. your child will have to answer both questions set on their chosen era). This can be very useful if you are short of time, or if you prefer to focus on 19th AND early 20th century history without wanting to venture as far as communism and the Gulf War.

Here is a compilation of exam technique tips taken from various history teachers’ websites/blogs relating specifically to the CIE exam.

YEAR 9 (2)




Find the Exam Board with which you want to sit the examination and follow the specification. Use appropriate books and plenty of past papers.


Golden rules are find the Exam Board you want. There are both linear exams and non linear. The non linear exams require course work to be completed by the student and marked by an examiner approved by the Exam Board. Linear exams do not require coursework but usually involve an extra exam paper instead.


Exams used to offer Higher tier where you could achieve the higher grades and Lower tier where the top grade to be achieved was lower but this has changed because the grading system has changed.

Always follow the specification using appropriate books. Check that you have covered all the specification and that you have entered the child in plenty of time with the Exam Centre. Practise exam questions from books and also past papers.

The Exam Boards also produce the mark schemes online so that you can get a good idea of what the examiners expect in an answer. Beware that the Exam Boards change their specifications. You need to keep an eye on them! You might find that what one child had to study will not be the same for a second child even though they are only one academic year apart.


I don’t feel I can recommend books in history, geography and science at the lower secondary level and usually made up my own projects using various books I got from libraries etc.

An example would be a project on the English Civil War for history.

found that Edexcel offered a good international exam without coursework and therefore I used them a lot.

Once you have chosen a course to follow there is usually an appropriate textbook offered by the board.


Modern World History written by Ben Walsh published by John Murray (Hodder) Edexcel International GCSE History publisher Edexcel Pearson.

PLEASE NOTE: The new Ancient History GCSE spec has made it possible for homeschoolers to sit as it does not require controlled assesment. The first sitting for this exam will be summer 2019