Assessment Report

New Zealand Scholarship
History 2020

Standard 93403


Part A: Commentary

This examination was generally accessible to well-prepared candidates. The comprehensive range of sources appeared to have allowed the majority of candidates the opportunity to demonstrate Scholarship-level thinking and writing in their responses. 

The 2021 exam will be reformatted: instead of the one essay and the need to integrate within that structure the particular skills that have been traditionally assessed, the new format will require a separate and informed focus for particular skills. However, what will not change is the importance of candidates responding to a question with clarity and lucidity, integrating source material and their own knowledge, to demonstrate an authoritative understanding of a historical context.

Part B: Report on Performance

Candidates who were awarded Outstanding Scholarship commonly:

  • planned their response clearly using the planning pages provided 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 their planning demonstrated a higher-level understanding of possible historical contexts that could be used to support an argument)
  • understood clearly the scope of the question posed and wrote a balanced response to the question rather than a
    pre-learned rote response to the context outlined in the Assessment Specifications (shown by original and convincing evidence, which clearly contained material taught and learnt in class, being provided in their responses)
  • communicated a highly competent understanding of the historical context of the examination, i.e. through their explanation of the historically significant ideas relevant to this context
  • argued a case in a sophisticated, convincing, and lucid manner
  • provided a logical, accurate, and sustained argument (evident in each paragraph)
  • synthesised accurately the sources and their own detailed knowledge of historical content and contexts in a balanced and highly effective manner
  • wrote with perception, clarity, and flair
  • structured their response in a highly effective manner
  • demonstrated their understanding of the historical relationships by using detailed examples from their own relevant content knowledge, or from the sources 
  • evaluated historians' narratives in the sources as well as historians, using their own knowledge, rather than merely paraphrasing or repeating an obviously rote- or pre-learned précis of the general historiography of the prescribed 2020 context 
  • judged the validity, reliability, and usefulness of the source material, in relation to the question and their argument (judgements were accurate and based on informed knowledge of the topic)
  • wrote in their own words so that the ‘voice’ that emerged from their argument was authentic and authoritative.

Candidates who were awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • planned a response utilising the planning pages to outline a key idea for each paragraph, the sources they intended to use in that paragraph, and a relevant historical narrative, demonstrating a clear understanding of the context and the question enabling them to construct a relatively considered argument (even if only at a surface level)
  • demonstrated an understanding of the scope of the question by writing a clear response and not a learned generic response to the context (as outlined in the Assessment Specifications)
  • communicated a clear understanding of the precise context of the examination, not a general or generic response about the past and the present
  • 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.

Candidates who were not awarded Scholarship commonly:

  • 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
  • addressed the context signalled in the Assessment Specifications in a very general manner, without direct reference to the question; or more commonly, appeared to be answering a pre-prepared question quite dissimilar to the 2020 one
  • wrote a general 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 
  • did not include knowledge from 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
  • did not effectively balance their own content knowledge with content and ideas from the sources
  • used quotes and theories about the development of ‘narrative’ history that they appeared to have rote-learnt, and therefore had insufficient understanding of, in order to integrate with the sources in the examination and/or their argument
  • tended not to integrate content knowledge from topic(s) they had actually studied and had a good understanding of
  • showed less ability to read sources and summarise key ideas accurately
  • showed fewer skills in unpacking sources, especially basic analysis such as source details, and use these in their discussion/argument 
  • demonstrated little genuine understanding of the nature of history or the role of a historian, as opposed to a journalist or a novelist
  • demonstrated an inability to explain and develop key ideas related to the historical contexts studied
  • did not have a good understanding of the key historical arguments related to the topic and were therefore unable to apply the historical arguments to their individual argument 
  • did not comment on the usefulness and reliability of sources in the paper in any meaningful manner
  • did not utilise the titles and references of the sources in the resource booklet to inform the judgements made about the sources.

Subject page


Previous years' reports
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