What do we mean by ‘Dates’?


Many questions will include a year or years that require your direct attention. Alongside the ‘hot topic’ within a question/title, the dates are the simplest term to identify. The dates are specifically chosen by the exam board/your teacher, for a reason: they relate to an issue or event. You must refer to these dates in your introduction. Moreover, the dates, particularly if there is more than one of them, can actually help you ‘get into’ your answer and structure your introduction.


How can the dates help you ‘get into’ your answer?


If you have two dates in your title, then you have the perfect way to ‘bookend’ your introduction: start your introduction with the first date by using it to begin contextualising your answer. Use the second date to ‘end’ the introduction by contrasting the situation found at this time with the first date given.




Let us show you what we mean.

01 Intro 02.5 01

Example 1

Between the years 1933-39 how successful were the Nazis at reducing unemployment? what degree did government treatment of black people change in South Africa between 1899 and 1999

Theodore Roosevelt’s contribution to US progressivism carries greater significance than other presidents in the period 1901-1920. How far would you agree with this statement?

To what extent was British decolonisation 1945-56 a result of the Second World War?

The Question (Edexcel Style)

Between the years 1933-39 how successful were the Nazis at reducing unemployment?

01 Intro 02.5 01

Did you notice this picture at the beginning of this section? If you did, you should have immediately started to think about the significance these dates and why they were there. This, believe it or not, is a learned response. The best historians will never see a date without trying to connect it to an issue or event.

  • The year 1933 clearly links to the beginning of the Nazi control of Germany, when Hitler becomes Chancellor. Start your introduction here.
  • The year 1939 clearly links to the beginning of World War Two. Contrast the situation in 1939 (in relation to the ‘Hot Topic’: unemployment) with that of 1933 and perhaps even begin rounding off your introduction with this.

The Introduction: (note: this is just a section of the larger introduction)

In 1933, President Hindenburg presented Hitler with the chancellorship of Germany. Much of the campaign rhetoric delivered by the National Socialists in the years leading up to this watershed year, involved promises to reduce the rampant and destabilising unemployment experienced under the Weimar governments. Upon his accession to power, Hitler needed to make good on these promises, but the size of the task (6 million Germans unemployed) was a steep one. By 1939, on the eve of the outbreak of World War Two, unemployment stood at a mere 302,000. On the surface, these figures would suggest a staggering success for Hitler and the Nazis, a result, among other things, of having implemented a series of massive public works schemes and military rearmament. However, these statistics do not tell the whole truth and, in fact, belie a far less savoury set of policies designed specifically to misrepresent the unemployment success of the Nazis, such as the extraction of significant numbers of German Jews from the employment roll.

What you have learned

This section has introduced you to the significance of another type of key term that you will most likely be required to address in your coursework: the ‘Dates’. By way of a variety of example coursework titles, from a range of exam boards, you have learned how to identify the important dates embedded in your coursework title. More importantly, you have learned how to incorporate this type of key term into your introduction. Now apply these skills to your work.

The next section – Pouring the Concrete – will take you through the skills related to embedding your argument into the introduction. Read on.

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