You should consider the merits of a variety of responses.If possible you should always examine the book or article from which the quotation has been taken in order to discover what its author meant by it, to discover how the author has understood the issues.It is useful to note that there is usually a natural way of structuring your answer: that is, a way of organising an answer which follows naturally from the format of the question and which will put the fewest obstacles in the way of the reader: 'Explain' and 'why' questions demand a list of reasons or one big reason; each reason will have to be explained - that is, clarified, expounded, and illustrated.
The evidence almost always permits a variety of solutions, and different approaches generate divergent conclusions.
There are, however, limits to the field of possible solutions, since they must fit in with 'the evidence'.
You will never be asked to produce a narrative of what happened.
In rare circumstances, a few sentences of narrative may form part of the evidence cited in support of a point, but the essay as a whole should be organised according to a logical structure in which each paragraph functions as a premise in the argument.
It is useful to begin by considering why essay-writing has long been the method of choice for assessment in history.
The chief reason is that no other method provides as effective a means of testing a student's comprehension of a topic.
Thus, the subject of the question is the 'Y' rather than the 'X' element.
That is, the question requires a discussion of the system as a whole and the consideration of alternative explanations of how 'X' worked within it.
Essential steps: select a question; identify the subject of the question; what are you being asked to do - that is, what kind of information will you need to answer the question, and how will you have to treat it?
Circling the key words in the question is sometimes a helpful first step in working out exactly what you need to do.