APUSH Redesign 2014
Things You Will, Of
Papers that read like greeting cards: Leave cuteness
and humor to the professionals. This is a time to be
scholarly. Embrace your inner tweed-jacketed-geek.
Papers that aren’t proofread: Avoid obvious errors.
Informal writing: Sound like you want to be taken
A fuzzy thesis: Be clear. Be interesting. Argue
Fluff: Cut to the chase. Answer the question
completely, but don’t add info just to have a long
The New APUSH Exam
Demystifying the Long
The AP US History exam requires students
to write a long essay within a thirty-five
minutes time limit.
Students will have a choice between two
prompts that focus on the same historical
thinking skills (HTS) but may apply to
different time periods and historical
1. Argumentation: Develops a thesis or relevant
argument that addresses all parts of the
2. Use of evidence: Supports the thesis using
specific evidence, clearly linked to the thesis.
3. Targeted historical thinking skill (HTS):
causation, comparison, continuity, change over
time, or periodization.
4. Synthesis: Written answer extends the
argument of the essay, connects it to a different
time period, historical context, or different
category of analysis.
Know what you’re being asked to do
Look for Verbs
Circle verbs that instruct you to do
something (analyze, identify, explain, etc.).
Count how many parts there are to the
question. Most will ask you to do more
than one thing.
If the question starts with “identify” or
“describe,” be on your guard for a hefty
part two. Most of these questions follow up
with “analyze” or another demanding
Identify the Skill
Take time to figure out what HTS this question is
testing (causation, comparison, continuity and
change over time, or periodization).
Maker sure to check all parts of the question.
Essays that ask you to perform two or more tasks
may embed them all in one sentence of the
ALL questions require you to perform an HTS.
Simply reporting information will not earn a
Protip: If you’re not making a judgment, you’re
probably not answering the question.
Consider two of the following
and analyze the ways in
which each of the two has
affected the identity of
women in American society
since 1940: changing
economic conditions, rebirth
of an organized women’s
movement, or traditional
definitions of women’s roles.
Prove your claim.
Jot down everything you know about the
Be smart: don’t just write about the time
period. Write down info related to what
the question is asking you. This is where
you start to figure out your argument.
Organize the Brain
Categorize the information based on
categories from the prompt. Organize it in
the way you plan to introduce it in your
Step back, look at your information, and
find your argument. What is your response
to the prompt? How does this information
help prove your point?
Make an argument. Make it clear.
There is no right
There are many wrong
A thesis is a single, clear, declarative sentence
that makes a specific argument in response to the
A thesis proves that you can interpret evidence
and develop a historical argument.
A thesis sums up the entire argument of your
A thesis may be complex but does not have to be.
A thesis determines how your essay will score.
A thesis NEVER restates the prompt.
Write the Intro
Give ‘em a clue where you’re going.
A Good Intro Has Three
Background Statement: general
introduction to the topic or time period
Thesis: clear, brilliant, specific statement
that summarizes your response to the
Road Map: a list of key ideas, events,
personalities, or categories of evidence
you will address in your body paragraphs
What the skills are and how to
prove you have them
Describe causes AND/OR effects of a
historical development and analyze
specific examples that illustrate causes
AND/OR effects of a historical
What were the major causes and
consequences (effects) of an event? What
were the most important causes and
effects of an event?
Why did it happen?
What was the impact? Think about short and long term.
Describe similarities AND differences
among historical developments, providing
specific examples AND analyze the reasons
for their similarities AND/OR differences
OR, depending on the prompt, evaluate
the relative significance of the historical
What were the major similarities and
differences between the two events? Are
there more similarities or differences and
Within or between
societies – chronological,
economic, or social
Continuity and Change Over
Describe historical continuity AND change
over time, and analyze specific examples
that illustrate historical continuity AND
change over time.
What were the major patterns of continuity
and change? Was there more continuity or
change over the time period?
What stayed the same? What changed?
Why did it change? How much did it
Analyzes the extent to which the historical
development specified in the prompt was
different from AND similar to developments
that preceded and/or followed, providing
specific examples to illustrate the analysis.
Evaluate whether an event was a turning
point or a major marking period in history.
Note what it was like before and after that
Like AP English Language… but
How To Do It
Extend or modify the thesis by developing
Connect the topic to another historical
period (even our own!), geographical era,
context, or circumstance.
Add an additional category of analysis
beyond what the prompt asks you to
Think Across Time Periods
What do these things have in common? What can we
learn from them?
Writing the concluding
A Strong Conclusion:
Sums up what the reader has learned (tl;dr).
Restates the thesis in a fresh and interesting
Restates each topic sentence of your
argument and provides an example for each
one (these may be examples you already
Expresses nuance, but does not introduce
Never summarizes the entire essay.
When in doubt, just answer the