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How to Answer To What Extent Questions

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John Milovich
John Milovich
ScamFighter Expert
Former college customer turned freelance writer, shares insider insights on the essay industry.

When you have an essay-based examination or a history assessment task that you need to pass with flying colors, knowing how to answer to what extent questions is an important factor in getting good grades and covering the topic. “To what degree” questions puzzle us all, but I recommend starting with the definition. It’s easy to get severe anxiety before the day of the test and just scribble down all that you know on the topic without ever looking back or thinking twice. What I suggest is understanding the nature of to what extent questions and coming up with a to what extent answer that will make your teacher happy.

What does to what extent mean? To what extent is a common question for an important exam that allows you to demonstrate your analytical skills and knowledge of a certain topic. It also encourages you to structure information into paragraphs to make sure you evaluate the extent of a specific event correctly. You should also remember that to what degree questions are often used interchangeably with to what extent questions. When it comes to historical essays, it usually means you need to attribute a higher or lesser level of importance to a particular event. On the scale of importance, there are high, equal, and low levels of importance. In my experience, history essays often provide you with two meaningful historical dates or events, asking you to assign a higher degree of importance to one or the other. You will be required to evaluate the extent to which these historical occasions affect the world and name a few factors contributing to this impact.

To What Extent Questions: Essay Examples

If you know how to answer a to what extent question, you can provide your teacher with a written analysis of ancient or modern history and impress the classroom with your knowledge. I would like you to look at the question that features two comparative elements in one sentence:

To what extent were Nero’s personal ambitions more important than his relationship with the Roman Senate in 54 AD?

Here, the students are required to analyze each element (Nero’s personal life and Nero’s social life) to determine which of the two held more weight during his political career. After you compare these elements, you can write a comprehensive answer and assume which of the aspects was more important.

Below is one of the to what extent examples that features a single element of comparison:

To what extent was the collapse of Ancient Greece the result of the nation’s own actions?

In this example, we only have one factor to base our answer on. Since there are no supporting elements you can use for a detailed comparison, you have to possess enough background knowledge to compare the Greek nation against other aspects that caused the possible decline. You also have to know how to answer to what extent questions using available source materials.

To What Extent Questions: Structuring an Answer

How do you answer a to what extent question once you have determined the two elements you need to compare? I have created a formula that will help you deliver a more informative answer during your exam. Think of your answer as your main hypothesis. What should you do with a hypothesis once you are faced with two factors that need to be compared based on your essay requirements? Your hypothesis should feature a clear answer indicating which of the two elements has more significance. For example, you have a question asking you to evaluate the extent to which the rise of Christianity was attributed to the promise of salvation or the missionary activity among the believers.

The following phrases will help you figure out which of the two elements has greater importance:

  • The promise of salvation was, to a greater degree, more significant for the rise of Christianity than the missionary activity.
  • We can name the promise of eternal life and salvation as the primary cause for the rise of Christianity despite the role of missionary activity.
  • While the activities of separate missionaries did play a part in spreading Christianity, the promise of salvation was the most important aspect of this religion’s flourishing.

You will notice that these examples give you the necessary clues on how to answer to what extent question. They feature two subjects that you are comparing (you can refer to them as Factor 1 and Factor 2), the topic that unites these two factors, and your argument on why you think one of the two factors is more important.What does to what extent mean in an essay? To deliver an in-depth reply, it is essential to provide an explanation that is backed by detailed source evidence and material. This will help you round out your argument and make it more convincing. As a result, your hypothesis will provide significant historical evidence to support your claims that the spiritual aspect of Christianity was more important than the missionary activities. Analyze the strengths and weaknesses that your hypothesis carries and make sure the teacher reading your essay understands which of the two elements is more important.

To What Degree Essay: Introduction and Paragraphs

Now that we finally decided which of the two factors, Factor 1 or Factor 2, is more significant to our hypothesis, it’s time to structure our to what extent essay example and present it to the classroom. Normally, the teachers would assign a five-paragraph structure to help you evaluate to the extent meaning of the question and deliver a more thorough response. Here is how the standard essay goes:

  • Introduction Paragraph: Here, you briefly describe two elements and your topic, explaining why you think one of the elements is more important than the other.
  • Three Body Paragraphs: You have to dedicate two paragraphs to the element you think is the most important, with two paragraphs providing separate reasons why the chosen element has more impact. The third paragraph should describe a less significant element, where you give a rational explanation of why you think it matters less than your primary factor.
  • Concluding Paragraph: Your conclusion should have a short summary of arguments in favor of each side, with the final sentence suggesting your initial assumption is true and that your primary factor is more important than the one with the least contribution.

Start each paragraph with a topic sentence that features an argument. It will convince the readers the element you chose as a primary one is more important than the second element. For example:

  • Factor 1 is the most significant element because
  • Another reason Factor 1 is more important is because
  • Factor 2 has a lesser impact because

If your essay follows the same structure, you will see that two-thirds of your paper is written in favor of a more significant element to strengthen your argument. The reason a long essay question is so important for crafting a compelling text is that it tests your ability to provide convincing historical evidence.

If you ever feel like you need assistance with “to what extent” papers and long essay questions, you can always check best paper writing service reviews and find someone to write a hypothesis for you. A reliable writing service is your key to success in creating a paper that stands out because of its quality and adherence to the rules. To what extent essays can be a serious challenge for someone who aspires to get the best grades, so hiring a credible expert to perform the task is the best decision you can make.

Tips on How to Answer To What Extent Questions

Every time you ask yourself, “What is an essay question?” or “How can I do my “to what extent” assignment?” use the tips below for a more effective argument. It is not uncommon to be given three factors you need to assign importance to, in which case you dedicate a separate paragraph to each factor.

If there is only one factor that you need to consider in your essay, with no alternatives or second elements provided, it probably indicates a poorly written question or the fact that you need to do your own research. Here is what you need to know before you start reading about essay type questions examples and to what extent questions:

Make sure you understand the question. It may sound obvious, but you have no idea how complicated a LEQ example can be. Let’s take one of the most popular to what extent questions concerning ancient philosophy:

To what extent was Pythagoras more a philosopher with unusual beliefs than a mathematician?

It is not enough for a student to know who Pythagoras is or when he was born. These are basic facts someone like me, who is not a historian, can google in less than a minute. You have to analyze two elements laid out in front of you and decide which one holds more significance, given the historical figure of Pythagoras, his achievements, beliefs, and philosophical genius. If you don't have credible source material and don’t understand the question, you won’t be able to assign importance to one of the factors because you will have no idea where to start.

Provide an argument to support your statement. Even if you managed to attribute more significance to one of the elements, the work doesn’t end there. You have to support your claim with factual statements - the more accurate, the better. You know that Pythagoras was interested in mysticism, and his Pythagorean Theorem was not the only accomplishment he could be proud of? Use these facts in favor of one of the elements. Know some tales about his life and deeds that present a less popular opinion? Include that in your “to what extent” answer and see how quickly you can make an impression with your argument.

Acknowledge the less significant factor. We all love to emphasize the points we think are important and be skeptical about other views, which is the best main topic for his response essay or any critical paper assigned to us in college. We identify the arguments made by the other side and provide our own opinion. The same happens when we completely ignore the less significant element in favor of a more important one. It is true you have to decide which one has more impact and provide enough reasoning for this element. Still, you need to acknowledge the less important factor’s existence. It will show that you are a true scholar who views both sides of the argument before making assumptions.


Once you identified the two factors you need to compare in a to what extent question, you have to assign more importance to one of the factors and provide arguments on why your opinion is valid. Your essay structure should reflect your point, with two-thirds of the essay dedicated to a more important element and one-third of the essay providing the details on a less significant element. Sometimes, you will be asked to prove the validity of three equally important points or answer a “to what degree” question with only one factor to consider. In this case, you are expected to use reliable source material for your answer and conduct individual research.


The purpose of a “to what extent” question is to make you look at both sides of the argument and choose the most important factor that contributed to a certain historical event or occasion.

You have to choose one element as a more contributing one to build a convincing argument around it and show your audience you are familiar with the source material.

You always have to support your claims with facts and make sure you understand the topic. Unlike personal essays, “to what extent” papers require you to prove your point with factual evidence.

You can break down the question into several parts. Start with a more important factor and write arguments in its favor. Once you’ve finished explaining its importance, describe a less significant element and its impact.

“To what extent” questions help us view the subject from multiple perspectives and develop our argumentative skills as we evaluate evidence, examine different elements of the question, and organize our ideas.