Assessment Report

New Zealand Scholarship
History 2021

Standard 93403


Part A: Commentary

The new format for the examination paper worked well, allowing candidates to demonstrate an authentic understanding of the theme for 2021 – colonialism – and the impact of the theme as a historical force. There was a range of accessible source material provided for candidates to evaluate or use as a stimulus, enabling them to arrive at a perceptive understanding of differing historical aspects of colonialism. The questions were straightforward, and candidates were able to respond in ways that reflected their ability to work at Scholarship level.

While planning is optional, use of the planning space enabled candidates to signal the key idea(s) they intended to develop in each of their paragraphs, the sources they intended to refer to in these paragraphs, and highly appropriate historical narrative(s). Invariably, these candidates demonstrated a higher-level understanding of possible historical contexts that could be used to support an argument.

This is the first year of the new-format Scholarship History paper. Teachers and candidates need to appreciate the importance of ensuring that equal time is spent on each question. Time management is a key requisite for success at Scholarship level, and allowing each response to be as concise, precise, and as detailed as possible is a skill that will be rewarded. One consequence of an inability to spend the appropriate time on each question often resulted in Question Three suffering in terms of the depth and quality of the response provided. But this was not always the case, and it was heartening to read many responses where candidates engaged with the new format and context and were able to provide detailed and lucid responses to all the questions. Question Two, which dealt with historical relationships, proved problematic to some candidates. Although they were able to identify or highlight a historical relationship in the sources, they were then incapable of linking this historical relationship to the context or moving beyond a surface level elucidation of material contained in the sources provided. Despite this, the quality of responses for Question Two this year was clearly better than the quality of responses provided under the older examination format.

It is important that teachers and candidates understand the purpose of each question in the new format. The ability to think critically, to understand how differing historical elements help shape our knowledge of the past, to structure a substantiated argument in response to a particular question: these skills continue to be of importance in the new format but they are now brought into closer focus through specific questions and source material shaped to allow a discussion of how a theme/idea can be evaluated by both the candidate and a range of historical narratives, analysed through differing historical relationships and its impact on our own history.

Question One enabled a candidate to demonstrate a complex understanding of a historical theme, to critically evaluate ideas related to that theme, determine the reliability and/or usefulness of the source material, and to structure this as a response to a specific question. There were three elements in Question One that needed to be addressed: the evaluation of differing historical narratives, the evaluation of the source material, and a clear and substantiated response to the question. An understanding of the theme that is not dependent on the source material is also important: critical analysis and evaluation of an idea requires a depth of understanding that can come only through a consideration of a range of comparable and contrasting ideas.

Question Two required a candidate to show how an understanding of historical relationships can inform a deeper understanding of the theme. It is important to understand that the identification of a historical relationship is not enough; what is needed is the ability to link the relationship to the historical context and to analyse how the theme is developed through this analysis.

Both Question One and Question Two required similar skills to the ones examined in previous years, but Question Three was a deliberate attempt to ensure that a knowledge and understanding of our own history is essential to a Scholarship examination. Consequently, there was an expectation that a candidate would move beyond the source material and bring their own knowledge and understanding to the context. A 2021 candidate, in discussing the differing historical narratives around the idea(s) implicit in ‘colonialism’ and in examining how differing historical relationships further informed an understanding of colonialism, should have been ready and able to demonstrate the impact of colonialism on our own past in Question Three. It is not unreasonable to expect a candidate at Scholarship level to have a knowledge and understanding of the historical forces that have shaped them and their community.

Part B: Report on Performance

Candidates who were awarded Outstanding Scholarship commonly:

  • responded to all three questions with a sustained and informed argument that demonstrated an authoritative understanding of the demands of the question and a genuine understanding of the theme
  • demonstrated a high level of knowledge particular to the concept/theme where it required perceptive and critical analysis of source material
  • responded with consistency across the paper and its three questions
  • provided authentic and logical evidence about the historical context
  • linked this prior knowledge to historical material provided in the paper
  • planned their response clearly using the planning pages
  • understood clearly the scope of the question posed and wrote a balanced response to the question rather than a pre-learned response to the theme/concept outlined in the Assessment Specifications, using original and convincing evidence which clearly contained material taught and learned in class
  • argued a case in a sophisticated, convincing, and lucid manner
  • provided a logical, accurate, and sustained argument (evident in each paragraph), responding directly to the question
  • wrote with a conciseness that reflected a depth of understanding and knowledge
  • wrote with perception, clarity, and flair
  • structured their response in a highly effective manner
  • judged the validity, reliability, and usefulness of the source material for Question One in their argument (judgements were accurate and based on informed knowledge of the topic)
  • demonstrated their understanding of the historical relationships by using detailed examples from the source material provided in Question Two and their own understanding of the complexity of these relationships
  • demonstrated detailed knowledge and understanding of the role of colonialism in shaping our past in 1900
  • wrote in their own words so that the ‘voice’ that emerged from their argument was authentic and authoritative.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • constructed a substantiated argument in response to the demands of the question across the three sections of the examination paper
  • responded to each of the questions posed and provided valid evidence to substantiate the points or conclusions they made
  • evaluated the source material for Question One in a clear manner and made some points about the evidence to support their conclusions
  • demonstrated an understanding of the importance/significance of historical relationships required in Question Two and were able to show how they added to an understanding of the concept/theme that was being examined
  • moved beyond the source material in Question Three to show an authentic understanding of the context and the way in which the concept/theme had impacted on various historical elements
  • wrote in a relatively clear manner, including an introduction to their argument, a substantiated argument, and a conclusion
  • made direct reference to the key words/phrases in the question
  • argued their case strongly throughout their response
  • planned their response, utilising the planning pages to outline a key idea for each paragraph and the sources they intended to use in that paragraph
  • demonstrated an understanding of the scope of the question by writing a clear response and not a learned, generic response to the context.

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • did not respond to the questions set, or failed to acknowledge the differing requirements of the three questions in this examination
  • did not allow enough time to meet the demands of each question
  • relied far too heavily on the historical ideas and content in the sources provided
  • did not use their own knowledge and understanding to support any argument they had attempted to construct
  • did not show any knowledge that went beyond the limitations of the source material (particularly evident with Question Three where most responses that did not reach Scholarship level were only able to interpret [often incorrectly] two to three of the sources provided about colonisation in Aotearoa New Zealand and then struggled to move beyond a surface-level source interpretation that was well below Scholarship level)
  • did not plan their answers, or at least provide any evidence of planning on the planning pages provided
  • did not write a clear introduction that presented their own argument
  • wrote a generic or pre-learned narrative or descriptive response based on the source material, with little or no awareness of the need to present an argument in relation to the question
  • showed an inability to read sources and summarise key ideas accurately
  • demonstrated an inability to explain and develop key ideas related to the historical contexts studied
  • communicated a very simple and/or superficial argument and did not support this with evidence from the sources provided and/or their own knowledge.

Subject page


Previous years' reports

2020 (PDF, 127KB)

2019 (PDF, 201KB)

2018 (PDF, 100KB)

2017 (PDF, 46KB)

2016 (PDF, 192KB)

Skip to main page content Accessibility page with list of access keys Home Page Site Map Contact Us