Typical Question: Identify how and discuss why Sources 3 and 4 are contestable. (6 marks)
Prior to 2016, the “contestability” question had never been asked in the Source Analysis section of the WACE Modern History examination.
As such, for a lot of teachers, it’s still a bit of a mystery as to the best way to approach it.
The 3 Things You Must Do To Answer the Constestability Question
I think there are three keys to doing well in this question:
1. Deal with each source separately. That is, your response should be broken into two parts (or paragraphs). One that deals with Source 3 and another that addresses Source 4.
2. Identify the viewpoints being expressed in the two sources at the beginning of each paragraph. After all, it’s hard to discuss why some would contest a particular viewpoint if you haven’t identified the original view first. Make sure you go into some depth though because this is the “How”of the question.
3. Discuss the aspects of each source that someone holding a different viewpoint would likely contest (or debate). Specifically, ask yourself, “What are the contestable aspects of this source?” And then identify and explain each (this is the “Why”).
Note: Because contestability is not a phrase that most people are familiar with, I think it’s easier to use phrases such as:
- Contestable point
- Contestable aspect
- Contestable element
throughout your answer. In fact, if you’re not using those phrases (or a variation of them), you’re probably not answering this question very well.
To sum up then, your answer should:
- State the viewpoint that someone holds for Source 3
- Then list and explain a number of contestable points related to Source 3
- Start a new paragraph and state the viewpoint that someone holds for Source
- Then list and explain a number of contestable points related to Source 4
Remember, for this question, it’s very important to deal with each source separately (ie don’t mention one source in relation to another. This is not a compare and contrast question).