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Writing an historical essay


Title: Writing a historical essay Author: socialstudies Last modified by: socialstudies Created Date: 8/19/2009 2:45:37 AM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Writing an historical essay

Writing an historical essay
  • Prep for the AP exam

The Prompt (aka the question?)
  • Read the question!!! (really, you think? Yes! I
  • 1 - Figure out what the prompt is NOT asking?
  • Aka many prompts give you info, which you have
    to accept as fact.
  • Ex. 2005 DBQ In the early nineteenth century,
    Americans sought to resolve their political
    disputes through compromise, yet by 1860 this no
    longer seemed possible. Analyze the reasons for
    this change. (use the docs and your knowledge of
    the period 1820-1860 in constructing your

The Prompt (continued)
  • 2 - Figure out what the prompt is asking!!
  • Is it a cause or effect? ex.(compromises before
    1860) causes of the
  • Is it a support or refute? Ex. A statement.
  • Analyze? HOW and WHY???

The Prompt (continued)
  • To what extent,????
  • This is a tricky way of giving you lots of
  • Ex. 2005 - FRQ To what extent was the US
    Constitution a radical departure from the
    Articles of Confederation?
  • 1 a completely radical departure
  • 2 it was a radical departure in , but did
    not radically change
  • 3 it was not a very radical departure

The Prompt (continued) still?
  • If you want to get better at writing essays, then
    you want to re-write the question
  • Or you want to figure out the heart of the
  • Ex. 2008 FRQ - Analyze the reasons for the
    Anti-Federalists opposition to ratifying the
  • The heart of the question is what were the
    Anti-federalists main arguments against the

  • 1 Figure out what your argument (AKA THESIS)
    will be, and how you are going to support it!
  • Jot down examples
  • If it is a DBQ go through all of the Docs
    after you write down anything and everything you
    already know.
  • Make sure to organize your ideas around themes or
    topics ( or even drinks?!!!)

What is your favorite historical drink?
  • SPRITE Social, Political, Religious,
    Intellectual, Technological, Economic
  • this is a great way to create topics for your
    essay if it is a general question that is asking
    for the CAUSES or the EFFECTS of an event (on
  • Ex. How did the Vietnam War effect America?
  • I would probably go with socially, politically
    and economically.

Intro (paragraph)
  • You always want to start by giving the time and
  • Ex. The 13 colonies prior to the American
  • Ex. In the years following the Civil War, the
    southern states

Intro (continued)
  • There is no length requirements, but a few
    sentences is fine.
  • Your sentences should all lead into
  • Your.
  • THESIS, duh?!
  • Thesis should always be the last sentence of your
    intro, BUT it can be the last two sentences?!

  • This is the make or break of your paper!
  • But no pressure!
  • If the question is asking you about the causes of
    WWI, then you can NOT talk about WWI, or WWII
    for that matter.
  • Your thesis needs to stay within the time period
    and the limitations given in the question. (ex.
    During a presidency)

Thesis (continued, of course)
  • Your thesis needs to be an argument.
  • I know Im crazy!!!
  • This means that it can NOT be a fact, like FDR
    was the president elected in 1932 and he created
    the New Deal.
  • You also can NOT just copy the prompt, this shows
    that you have no clue how complex the question

Thesis (statements)
  • What effect did WWII have on America?
  • America was effected socially, politically, and
    economically by WWII.
  • WWII drastically impacted American society,
    politics and its economy.
  • WWII had a positive effect on the American
    economy, increased the powers of the federal
    government, and created a more unified society.

Body paragraphs
  • First, you need to have clear TOPIC sentences.
  • Topic sentences what the entire paragraph is
    going to cover
  • So topic sentences should be more general,
    rather than specific.
  • However, they can NOT be facts!!!
  • If you have problems creating them, then maybe
    write your paragraph (while leaving space for the
    topic sentence), and then write your topic
    sentence afterwards.

Body paragraphs (continued)
  • Within the body paragraphs should be details and
    facts, but more importantly you need to analyze
    and synthesize!
  • Ex. Why didnt the Compromise of 1850 prevent the
    Civil War?
  • How did the Chinese Exclusion Act impact

Body paragraphs (still)
  • Synthesis (the best essays have this!)
  • Synthesis is connecting your analysis back to
    your thesis, and/or connecting analysis with
    other analysis in your essay.
  • Ex. Analysis Comp. of 1850 did not address the
    future of slavery.
  • Analysis Comp. of 1850 upset abolitionists.
  • Synthesis For many southerners the Comp. of
    1850 appeared to limit the expansion of slavery,
    so abolitionists who did not help recover runaway
    slaves, only increased the chances of a civil

Conclusion (?)
  • It will surprise you, but a conclusion is not
    necessary for AP US History.
  • No I am not joking!
  • If you have time, a conclusion is great, but if
    all you can do is repeat your thesis and your
    topics, then skip it.
  • However, great essays have analysis and synthesis
    of the whole essay in the conclusion.

Conclusion (finally?)
  • The conclusion is also where you can finally make
    connections to THE NEXT STEP!
  • THE NEXT STEP is what event, concept, or time
    period that followed up the prompts inquiry.
  • Ex. If question is about causes of Civil War,
    then conclusion could mention the Civil War, and
    maybe quickly, Reconstruction, but NOTHING about

FINAL TIPS, Dos and Don'ts
  • Dos
  • Have an argument!!!!
  • Organize your topics
  • Analyze
  • Synthesize
  • Supersize?? j/k

FINAL TIPS, Dos and Don'ts
  • Don'ts
  • Use I, we, us, our, etc.
  • Make grand generalizations, like all wars or
    people like to fight.
  • Go off-topic
  • Use random quotes
  • Use analogies America is like a tiger
  • Give advice, like If Lincoln would have just
  • Make connections from the past to today! Why?
  • Write on something unrelated or beyond the
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