A Dummy’s Guide to AP World History - insights and advice
Feb 7th, 2023
If opening the “grades” tab on your AP World History schoology class makes you want to write an email to your counsellor requesting a course transfer to AP Human Geography, fear no more. This guide will clearly explain how literally anyone (believe me - I am living proof that you don’t have to be a genius to do it) can get an A in AP World History even with Mr Suh’s borderline dystopian grading schemes.
Let’s begin with general advice for AP World History then discuss specific advice for each summative category.
The most important thing in AP World History is to actually read the textbook carefully and take ample notes. This sounds incredibly self explanatory or implicit but a great many people in my class simply “scanned” the textbook or read online summaries instead. Not properly reading the textbook is the best way to fail the class and the exam. In addition, you should also be taking detailed notes while reading. It may seem like a hassle but you will thank yourself during summatives, as taking detailed notes not only improves your retention of historical facts or trends in your head and also gives you additional material to review.
If you have asked anyone for advice regarding this class, you may have heard the YouTube channel “Heimler’s History” being brought up. While Heimler’s history can be a useful resource for last minute recap or review right before an exam, it is by no means a crutch or a replacement for your AP World History textbook. Concepts in Heimler’s History are explained very generally and without any detail, so if you wish to have the most holistic understanding of the class’s material, stick to the textbook instead. (Note to students reviewing for the actual AP Exam: DO NOT buy Heimler’s History Ultimate Review Packet. It is a COMPLETE waste of time and money. Everything contained in the packet can be found on his YouTube Channel, and you are essentially paying 25 USD for a few sets of questions and worksheets)
Finally, take time to mentally plan out the structure and content of your essay or response before putting pen to paper. Time is incredibly limited during summatives and as a result you may feel the need to begin writing your response as soon as possible. However, this is a grave mistake - planning your essay out beforehand and making sure that you yourself are clear on the structure of your essay will ensure that your response is logical, structured, and does not repeat itself.
Now, onto advice specific to each summative type.
While earning a full point for the thesis may be a rather simple task on the DBQ, the same is not true for the Long Essay Question (LEQ) in Mr Suh’s class. He tends to give out half points for theses on the LEQ, and I myself have never received a full point for an LEQ thesis. The most important thing to remember for your thesis on the LEQ is that it must be nuanced and detailed. I would recommend providing examples of evidence you want to use in combination with stating your main stance and sub points. In addition, the contextualisation for an LEQ should be kept as short and brief as possible to save time and avoid exhausting your mental supply of historical facts. Finally, you absolutely must avoid getting caught up in evidence. This may seem self explanatory or even implicit, but argumentation follows the structure of claim, evidence, and reasoning. Your evidence is NOT your reasoning, so please do not spend years describing Christopher Columbus’s journey in painstaking detail and spend time discussing its significance and implications for your argument/thesis instead.
The Multiple Choice Question (MCQ) can either be really easy or incredibly difficult, depending on whether you actually read the textbook or not. Once again, reading the textbook instead of viewing summaries or watching Heimler’s History will drill contextual information into your mind, giving you the ability to solve the most difficult questions. Memorising facts is unfortunately completely useless and will not save you - most, if not all, MCQs do not simply require you to regurgitate information, but rather to derive conclusions or use general historical trends to make educated guesses. On MCQs you will inevitably run into questions involving niche events you have absolutely no prior knowledge of, in which case you must rely on process of elimination, historical trends, and luck.
The Short Answer Question (SAQ) will be your lifeline in this course, being the best way to rack up the As. SAQs should be tackled carefully and thoughtfully, as they are also the easiest to mess up, being based on three short responses instead of a full essay. As long as you are specific, careful, and avoid rushing to conclusions too quickly, the SAQ should be no issue. As a result, I would recommend prioritising the SAQ.
While AP World History may seem like an unsurpassable obstacle at first, I believe that it is actually not as complicated as most make it out to be (absolutely zero hindsight bias at all). I hope this moderately bloated guide/rant has been able to provide you aid and guidance in your AP World History journey.
Best of luck!