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Tips for Writing an Essay on the AP US History Exam


Tips for Writing an Essay on the AP US History Exam General Pointers Be persuasive, convince the reader that your answer is correct Take a stand, have an opinion, don ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Tips for Writing an Essay on the AP US History Exam

Tips for Writing an Essay on the AP US History
General Pointers
  • Be persuasive, convince the reader that your
    answer is correct
  • Take a stand, have an opinion, dont be timid
  • Avoid fragmented sentences run-ons
  • Avoid slang and informal language
  • Avoid using first person I, my, we,
  • Essays must be written in black or dark blue ink

General Pointers
  • Dont waste time with white out, instead cross
    out words or sentences
  • Write legibly in fairly large sized letters
  • The average reader spends only a few minutes on
    each essay. Your goal is to distinguish your
    essay from mediocrity in the 1st paragraph.

Understanding the Essay Prompt
  • All AP essays are written in response to a
  • Understanding what this prompt is asking you to
    do is very important
  • Read the WHOLE prompt, every word dont be in a
  • Examine the VERB in the prompt. It tells you what
    you must do
  • Commonly used verb phrases analyze, evaluate,
    assess the validity, compare and contrast,
    discuss or consider

Understanding the Essay Prompt
  • Carefully observe any NUMBERS in the question
  • Center your answer within the TIME FRAME
  • USE THE CATEGORIES given in the question
  • Social, economic, political, cultural, religious,
    geographical, etc.
  • Announce the categories in your thesis then
    write a paragraph about each

Sample Prompts
  • Analyze the effect of the French and Indian War
    and its aftermath on the relationship between
    Great Britain and the British colonies. Confine
    your response to the period from 1754 to 1776.
  • Compare contrast United States foreign policy
    after the First World War and after the Second
    World War. Consider the periods 1919-1928 and

Sample Prompts
  • Analyze the origins and outcomes of the intense
    cultural conflicts of the 1920s. In your
    response, focus on TWO of the following.
  • Immigration
  • Prohibition
  • Religion
  • Compare and contrast the Cold War foreign
    policies of TWO of the following presidents.
  • Harry Truman (19451953)
  • Dwight Eisenhower (19531961)
  • Richard Nixon (19691974)

Create an outline
  • After you understand the task at hand, create a
    brief outline
  • This maybe a chart, diagram, outline, or list,
    but do not skip this step
  • Organize your thinking so that you cover all of
    the material you need to cover in order to
    address the prompt completely
  • You are advised to spend 5 minutes planning and
    30 minutes writing

Writing a thesis
  • A clear thesis is essential to a solid score, it
    is the most important sentence in your essay
  • A thesis sentence is a single declaratory
    sentence that answers the prompt with a clearly
    and simply stated opinion that does not restate
    the prompt.
  • Do nor rewrite or restate the question/prompt
  • A good thesis shows that the writer is going to
    answer all parts of the question within the
    boundaries of the question

Writing a thesis
  • Slavery was the principal cause of the U.S.
    Civil War. Assess the validity of this
  • Good
  • Although slavery was a significant factor in the
    coming of the Civil War, the primary causes were
    the political, economic, and moral implications
    of the extension of slavery to the territories.
  • Bad
  • Slavery was the principal cause of the Civil War
  • Ugly
  • The Civil War had many causes.

Writing a thesis
  • It may be helpful to answer the prompt in a
    single sentence in order to help establish your
  • Use this prompt to try
  • How successful was organized labor in improving
    the position of workers in the period from 1875
    to 1900? Analyze the factors that contributed to
    the level of success achieved.

Writing a thesis
  • Concept Thesis vs. Organizational Thesis
  • Concept thesis examples
  • Although this was a period of intense labor
    pressure, unions failed to make the lives and
    status of workers better.
  • Although this period saw increased labor
    involvement, state and federal government
    antagonism kept unions from being effective.
  • This type of statement acknowledges that the
    question is complex

Writing a thesis
  • Organizational thesis examples
  • Labor unions failed because they were confused in
    their goals and were aggressively opposed by both
    state and federal governments.
  • Organized labor unions were successful because
    they were not unified in their demands and were
    associated with radical European groups
  • These statements specifically mention what the
    topics of the body of your essay will be

Creating an introduction
  • Avoid fluffy statements
  • Its OK if your intro is only 2-3 sentences
  • Ideally your first sentence is the thesis

The Body
  • Essays often fall short b/c they lack facts,
    support your thesis w/ FACTS
  • It is wise to show more than one side of an
    argument (although thesis statements)
  • Showing exceptions demonstrates analysis
    critical thinking
  • Write down your most factually supported ideas in
    your 2nd 3rd paragraphs in case you run out of

The Body
  • Things to Avoid
  • Repetitiveness
  • Wordiness
  • Mush vague generalities unsupported by facts
  • Facts that do not pertain to the question/prompt
  • Telling a narrative

What are graders looking for?
  • Thesis Statement
  • Facts (outside info for DBQs)
  • Analysis
  • Did you show that you understood the question?
  • Did you make reasonable, logical arguments?
  • Synthesis
  • Did you put your facts reasoning together
    make reasonable inferences conclusions?

  • Multiple Choice Questions50 of grade
  • 80 Qs in 55 minutes
  • Essay Exams50 of grade
  • 1 DBQ in 45 minutes
  • 2 Free Response Essays (choose one of two twice),
    35 minutes each