The Written Exam is an important component of the Olympiad which will ask students to write responses to various challenging questions. Factual and analytical skills will both be tested, as both are needed for students to write effective responses to the questions. Bearing in mind that English is not the native language of many competing students, considerations of English style, orthography, and grammar will not be considered important here unless they largely impede the ability of the grader to understand what the competitor is trying to say. Participation in the Written Exam is not required, but it counts 1/3 towards the Individual International History Olympiad Championship. As at past Olympiads, players in 2020 will have 80 minutes to complete the Exam.
In 2016 and 2018, there were 8 short answer questions – students needed to write one paragraph for each of these. Middle School Division players needed to answer 5, JV players needed to answer 6, and Varsity players needed to answer 7. Then there was a full-length essay, for which there were 3 topics, and students selected one. In 2020, the format will identical to this.
The exam will be graded on the same lines as the AP exams are graded (see here for a rubric for the AP US History Exam, though this is not specific to US History). For all divisions, the essay will be worth 30% and the short answer questions (however many are required) will count 70%.
Varsity: Jonathan Tran, Oregon
Junior Varsity: Govind Prabhakar, India
Middle School: Calvin Pan, China
Varsity: Jonathan Tran, Oregon
Junior Varsity: Alejandro Lim, Philippines
Middle School: Jun Hyuk Lee, South Korea
Varsity: Suntiparp Somsak, Thailand
Junior Varsity: Jonathan Tran, Oregon
Middle School: Priyankar Kandarpa, Singapore
The 2015 Exam consisted of 8 short answer questions (one paragraph response for each) and 2 3-5 paragraph essays. Students had a choice on which topics they got to answer for the essay, and they had to answer a cetain number of the short answer questions too. The topics on the essays were relatively broad; the focus there is more on an ability to put forth a compelling thesis and argue it. The 8 short answer questions required an ability to put events in context and make an argument as well, but were more factually-based. Samples are as follows:
Short Answer Samples:
1. Name 3 reasons why the Roman Empire declined and indicate which of these 3 you believe was most important to the fall of the Roman Empire.
2. The year 1968 was a very important one in world history. Name at least 3 important events from that year and indicate why this year was a particularly notable year in history.
3. Why was the 30 Years’ War considered an important milestone in world history? Cite several specific reasons.
1. Diseases and their eradication have been historically important in many instances. Describe at least 3 specific examples of how diseases or their eradication impacted history, and which of these had the greatest impact.
2. Which monarch of England has had the greatest impact on world history? Why?
3. Aside from Hitler, which 20th century person had the greatest negative impact on world history? Why? Be sure to compare your selected person with at least 2 others who have also had a negative impact, but weren’t quite as negative as your selected historical villain.