What is the most effective method of answering source based questions in A-level History, especially when comparing two sources?
You have to analyse the purpose of the source, the context of the source, the author’s/publication’s background and find information from both sources which create debate. Question: Did the British give India independence or was it forced to? If we have a source written by a British author regarding the British Empire soon after the Second World War, one can assume the purpose of the source is to view the Empire’s impact positively. You will then need to find quotes in the source to support this claim. The second source may be written by an Indian historian writing about the Raj. We can assume it will be in favour of the latter part of the question and we can find quotes to support this claim. You will use each quote to make a point which will then be supported by secondary knowledge - what you know outside the sources. So you can find historical evidence where the British weren’t forced to give independence to support the first source and find evidence were they were forced to support the second source. You should always refer back to the question or you will veer off topic. At the end, you must reach a judgement. With respect to the question I’ve referred to here, I’d conclude by saying it was actually the Second World War which forced them to give up India as the British no longer had the means to maintain its empire. So in a way, they gave it to the Indians. If you continually refer to the source material and dissect any quote you use whilst showing off relevant historical knowledge to support your points and reach a conclusion on the question posed, you will receive high marks. Just practise and you’ll get the hang of it. Good luck!
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