The AP Test
You are in this class to prepare for and pass the AP US History exam.
HOW TO SUCCEED ON THE AP US HISTORY TEST
Hello! There are few exams that will be as challenging in high school as the AP US History Exam. Add in the fact that the curriculum has changed and the exam is brand new, the course can seem very overwhelming. Don’t worry, this site will walk you through everything in order to prepare for the exam. Here’s How To Succeed On The AP US History Exam!
Part I: What to Study
In addition to your textbook, review videos, and class notes, study the released curriculum by the College Board. (You can download the curriculum here). Within each time period, several historical events, people, terms, and concepts are listed. PLEASE BE AN EXPERT ON THESE TOPICS AS YOU ARE EXPECTED TO KNOW THEM IN DETAIL.
Here are some examples of what you should know for each time period. (Note, this is by no means an all inclusive list, but if you can explain these items, you will be that much closer to success). **If a term is underlined, clicking on it will take you to a video describing the term.**
Period 1: 1491 – 1607 (5% of the Curriculum)
Period 2: 1607 – 1754 (10% of the Curriculum)
Period 3: 1754 – 1800 (12% of the Curriculum)
Period 4: 1800 – 1848 (10% of the Curriculum)
Period 5: 1844 – 1877 (13% of the Curriculum)
Period 6: 1865 – 1898 (13% of the Curriculum)
Period 7: 1890 – 1945 (17% of the Curriculum)
Period 8: 1945 – 1980 (15% of the Curriculum)
Period 9: 1980 – Present (5% of the Curriculum)
What to Study
Although it is impossible to predict what documents will be on the exam (including political cartoons, diary entries, letters, laws, charts, graphs, etc.), these documents will be based on information found in the curriculum.
Here are a couple of examples you could see:
Multiple Choice Questions
The multiple-choice question format for the exam is brand new, and likely vastly different from questions you have encountered before. Gone are the 80 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge with five answer choices. The new questions are based on a document (an excerpt from a reading, chart, political cartoon, etc.) and one must answer a series of questions based on that document. Although this can seem overwhelming, there are tips you can use to successfully navigate these new questions. This accounts for 40% of your score on the APUSH exam.
Tip #1: Read the new curriculum!
I can’t stress how important this is. Many multiple-choice answers will be stated in the new curriculum. For example: Key Concept 3.1, II, C states “Despite considerable loyalist opposition, as well as Great Britain’s apparently overwhelmingly military and financial advantages, the patriot cause succeeded because of the colonists’ greater familiarity with the land, their resilient military and political leadership, their ideological commitment, and their support from European Allies” (page 43 of the framework, which can be foundHERE.) A potential multiple-choice question could state:
All of the following were reasons for the patriot victory in the Revolutionary War except:
Tip #2: If a document is in the new curriculum, read at least a portion of it and be able to explain its message.
For example, Thomas Paine’s Common Sense is specifically mentioned in the new curriculum. You do NOT need to memorize the entire writing to do understand its importance. Be familiar with a couple passages and be able to recognize the main argument. Chances are the readings will either be the items mentioned in the new curriculum, or other authors writing about them. Perhaps you could encounter a secondary source that analyzes the impact ofCommon Sense. You may not encounter the parts of the Missouri Compromise passed by Congress, but you could encounter a politician from that time period writing about the Compromise.
Tip#3: Familiarize yourself with question stems.
There question stems that you could encounter regardless of the document you will be expected to understand. Some of these questions include:
Tip #4: You Must Know Certain Vocabulary Terms
Please don’t let certain words in question stems trip you up. Knowing the definitions of the following terms will greatly help you. Plus, if you can incorporate them into Short Answer Questions or Essays, they will strengthen your writing!
Short Answer questions are a new part of the exam and count for 20% of your total score. Every Short Answer question will have three parts to answer. Each part (a, b, and c) should be answered in 2-3 sentences with specific historical evidence. Do not write too much info or you could run out of time and space. Furthermore, make sure you label your answers a, b, and c.
Short Answer Type #1: No documents
This type of Short Answer will have three different tasks related to a similar theme. This could include: briefly explaining a cause of an event (a), briefly explaining a short-term event of the event (b), and briefly explaining a long-term cause of an event (c).
Here’s an example of this type of question:
Answer all 3 parts:
Short Answer Type #2: No documents, but three events from which to choose
This type of Short Answer will provide 3 bulleted events/terms/people to choose from that relate to a similar theme. This could have you: explain why one of the choices is the most significant event related to the theme (a), providing historical evidence to back up your assertion (b), and contrasting your choice against another one, explaining why the other is not as good of a choice (c).
Here’s an example of this type of question:
a) Briefly explain why one of the following could be seen as a major reason for calls for significant revisions to the Articles of Confederation:
c) Contrast your choice against another and briefly explain why it is not as good of a choice
Short Answer Type #3: 1 document, most likely a political cartoon/illustration
This type of Short Answer will provide a visual related to a historical theme. After briefly examining the theme you could be asked to: explain the point of view of the author – potentially the view on different themes (a), how the visual expressed that point of view (b), and one piece of historical evidence that either supports or opposes the view (c).
Short Answer Type #4: 2 documents, most likely opposing views of an event/time period
This type of Short Answer will provide two different readings about a similar event/time period/topic. After reading both documents, you could be asked to: summarize the differences between the points of view of the authors (a) – please make sure you specifically state how the authors views are DIFFERENT, provide one piece of historical evidence that supports one author (b), and provide one piece of historical evidence that supports the other author (c).
With all Short Answer Questions, please pay special attention to the dates. Figure out what time period it relates to and include information from THOSE YEARS ONLY!
Part III: The Document Based Question (DBQ)
The DBQ has been revamped with the new curriculum as well. This accounts for 25% of your score on the APUSH Exam. Every DBQ will have 6-7 documents and will not only test your content knowledge, but also your understanding of historical skills and themes.
There are 7 total points available for the DBQ and you want to get as MANY AS POSSIBLE. Here’s how the points break down:
Once you have made it here, you have completed 85% of your APUSH exam. The Long Essay is 15% of your exam score. You are almost done, make sure you finish strong. This could be the difference between passing and not passing.
The Long Essay grading is similar to the DBQ. Here’s how you will earn your points: