How To Write An Ib History Hl Essay

For either route (20th Century World History or History of Europe and the Islamic World) in IB History SL/HL, I’ve got the information you need to ace your in-class quizzes and the IB exam.

I’ve assembled the best FREE online IB History notes into this complete study guide. For your convenience, I'll be ordering this IB History Study Guide using the IB History Syllabus.


How to Use This IB History Study Guide

If you’re hoping for help on one subject, use Command + F to search this guide for specific IB History notes about that subject. As an example, if you want to read about Paris Peace Treaties, use Command + F to cue the search function. Then, type “Paris Peace Treaties” and it’ll bring up all of the study materials for Paris Peace Treaties.

I separate the resources into:

  • Quick reference: one-page summary of material if you just need a quick refresher.
  • Longer notes: notes (generally 3-10 pages) if you need more of an in-depth explanation.
  • Flashcards: online quiz of key terms.


Uses for This Article During the School Year

Look at this article during the school year to prepare for in-class tests. Make sure you’re mastering the material during the school year and not waiting to cram until right before the IB History exam.   


Best Study Practices for IB History SL/HL During the School Year

Look at related IB History past paper questions as you learn new material in class. Find IB History HL and IB History SL past papers, Free and Official, in our other article. Also, if you’re having difficulty in the classroom, you need to be reading the corresponding chapter in a textbook or this study guide.


Common Study Mistakes for IB History SL/HL

Some common mistakes are:

  1. Trying to ignore the topics you didn’t comprehend from your teacher’s lesson. If you didn’t understand it in class, you need to find additional assistance through this IB History study guide or tutoring.
  2. Only trying to learn the material a week or two before the IB papers. There is too much history to learn; one or two weeks will not be enough time to learn it (that is why IB History SL/HL is spread over a year or two). Keep up with your class. Learn the material when you’re supposed to learn it in class. Look at this article if you need additional assistance:


Route One Guide: History of Europe and the Islamic World

The Origins and Rise of Islam


The Kingdom of Sicily


Dynasties and Rules


Society and Economy *NOTE unable to locate study resources for this topic


Wars and Warfare


Intellectual, Cultural and Artistic Developments


Religion and the State


Aspects of the History of Medieval Europe and the Islamic World



Route Two Guide: 20th Century World History

Peacemaking, Peacekeeping - International Relations 1918-36

  • Quick reference:
    • 1.1 Aims of the participants and peacemakers: Wilson and the fourteen points
    • 1.2 Terms of the Paris Peace Treaties 1919-20: Versailles, St Germain, Trianon, Neuilly, Sevre
    • 1.3 The geopolitical and economic impact of the treaties on Europe and the mandate system
    • 1.4 Enforcement of the provisions of the treaties: US isolationism, the retreat from the Anglo-American Guarantee, Disarmament-Washington, London and Geneva Conferences
    • 1.5 The League of Nations: effects of the absence of major powers, the principles of collective responsibility, and early attempts at peacekeeping (1920-25)
    • 1.6 The Ruhr Crisis (1923), Locarno and the Locarno Spring
    • 1.7 Depression and threats to international peace and collective security, Manchuria (1931 to 1933) and Abyssinia (1935 to 1936)
  • Longer notes:


The Arab–Israeli Conflict 1945–79  


Communism in Crisis 1976–89


Causes, Practices and Effects of Wars


Democratic States—Challenges and Responses


Origins and Development of Authoritarian and Single-Party States


Nationalist and Independence Movements in Africa and Asia and Post-1945 Central and Eastern European States  *NOTE unable to locate study resources for this topic



The Cold War


Aspects of the History of Africa  *NOTE unable to locate study resources for this topic


Aspects of the History of the Americas


Aspects of the History of Asia and Oceania  


Aspects of the History of Europe and the Middle East

  1. The French Revolution and Napoleon
  1. Unification and Consolidation of Germany and Italy
  1. The Ottoman Empire
  2. Western and Northern Europe 1848-1914
  3. Imperial Russia, Revolutions, Emergence of Soviet State 1853-1924
  1. European Diplomacy and the First World War 1870-1923


  1. War and Change in the Middle East 1914-49
  1. Interwar Years: Conflict and Co-operation 1919-39
  1. The Soviet Union and Eastern Europe 1924-2000
  1. The Second World War and Post-War Western Europe 1939-2000
  2. Post-War Developments in the Middle East 1945-2000
  1. Social and Economic Developments in Europe and the Middle East


What’s Next?

Learn more about IB History:

Learn more about other IB classes:


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Before we even start writing, look at the question. See if it helps you structure the essay in any way. Does it say what areas should be discussed? For example, "Compare and contrast two totalitarian leaders and theirs economic, social and international policies"- here we already have three areas to consider, no need to think about it. If the essay title doesn't give you such help, depending on the essay, the easiest way to do it would be either to divide the essay into three sections: social, economic, international affairs/opposition or go for other main areas relevant(like leaders in Italian unification or the MAIN [militarism, alliances, internationalism, nationalism] points in world war 1). In some essays, that might be harder, as in the ones concerning unifications of Germany and Italy- here is where proper, well-organised revision should come to play. You should already have all your topics divided into sub categories before you go inot the exam room. Also remember to put in your point of argument- what are you going to be saying? For example in this topic you could state: In this essay it will be shown different the aproaches of Stalin and Hitler were. After you have that, state all the areas which are going to be discussed in your introduction. Then start every paragraph with what is going to be discussed, so with the given topic, we would say: In the economic sector, where Hitler went for rightist economic views, Stalin focused on the leftist, communist economy. Then we would go to more specified examples, like comparing public works in Germany and collectives in USSR, or the similar ideologies of self-sufficiency of both nations. You should be ending your essay with a clear conclusion, adding no more information than already present in the paragraphs.

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