AP U.S. Government and Politics Masterpost

It’s time to talk about the next course and regret I’ve done after APUSH.

Fortunately I have been able to do well in AP Gov (GOPO who????). It’s been over a year since I’ve done anything related to this class, so this is all I remember doing (or whatever I wish I did).

First of all, welcome to the course!

I personally never planned to take the class. AP U.S. History was supposed to be the end of my time in the College Board’s dungeon, but yours truly ended up like this and somehow landed in AP Gov.

I know by the time I’ve published this post, the general structure of the class is going to be different from what I experienced, so here’s just a few general things:

Tip 1. You don’t exactly have to be a political superfan to survive…sort of

I certainly was not one. I’ll admit, it is quite intimidating coming in to AP Gov without knowing much of what is going on in the government. I remember during a class pre-meeting (done the spring before we started), my teacher was like “This class isn’t for you if you can’t name our state’s senators.”

Well, I knew who one of them was at the time…so, ehhhhhh. But I ended up fine.

It’s a bit difficult to get involved in some class discussions about current events, though. And that’s where the ‘sort of’ part comes in. If that sort of participation is a part of your grade…good luck. I got lucky that I wasn’t really required to do that. You’re going to have to play a bit of catch up, but with stuff running all over the news all of the time, it shouldn’t be as scary as it sounds. Also, the discussion might be opinion based, so technically, there shouldn’t be wrong answers. I’ve got to throw out there that every class is different, and what I’ve seen might not exactly be what goes on in your class.

Personally, catching up with the news wasn’t too bad, especially as someone who didn’t take too much interest in politics. I’d have a few basics and main points about what went down, then picked up the rest after hearing what my classmates had to say. It got easier as the year went on because I’ve picked up more material (had more background knowledge about politics).

Now, if you’re really like me and actually hated politics…why are you here? Why was I here??

The class was really a lot of hard work. I came in with not really a clue about what was going on politics-wise and it was the first time I’ve studied civics in depth, so I had to really put in time in making sure I understood what we were learning. Much of what I did to fully grasp the information thrown at me in class was done through reading, which brings me to…

Tip 2. PLEASE READ YOUR BOOK, IT SAVES LIVES

And make sure you actually understand what you’re reading. It’s a waste of time reading a giant paragraph and then looking up and thinking man, I don’t even know what I just read. If you do have one of those moments, laugh because that’s actually pretty hilarious and then cry because let’s admit it, we’re all doomed here.

I’d usually read the same passage again, but slower to sort of analyze what I just read. I’d work situations through my head. It’s a lot of ‘what would happen if…’ questions. If you know what I mean.

I also like to associate as much as I can when I encounter an idea. Like when I’m reading about a certain type of policy or case, I’m thinking ‘Who would favor this? Who would be against it? Why? What are some real life examples?’ It’s nice to keep stuff like that in mind as the material is connected to each other in so many places.

If that doesn’t work, there are other resources out there to help, like your genius friend, your teacher, or everyone’s BFF, the internet.

Tip 3. Don’t fall behind

That’s for pretty much every class. There’s a ton of material I saw for the first time. I went through two notebooks that year. Despite how there are various topics, stuff sometimes does build and it eventually comes together in the end.

Also, keep on top of your Supreme Court cases. There’s sooooooOOooooooOoOooOOOoo many. And, yes, they’re all important. I learned that the hard way when I encountered the last FRQ on my AP exam.

(Olive Garden v. Hedgehog for the win, if you get that)

What helped me understand main topics in class was using diagrams. Super helpful when you’ve got a federalism on your hands.

(not really) Tip 4. I’m going to say this now: RIP your hand(s)

It’s just a ton of writing, man.

Tip 5. Use your resources!!

If you lose all hope, please enjoy this.

As for why I ended up in this class? I wanted to learn to be a better citizen. It’s cool that I could vote, but I don’t want to make a decision I’d regret at the polls. For some reason I don’t hate politics now as much as I did before taking the class, so I guess this wasn’t a waste of time (my major is not even near civics).

But really, I learned a lot.

Whatever reason you’re here, I wish you the best of luck!

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AP U.S. History Masterpost

I’ve mentioned several times in my few posts how draining taking AP classes were. I’m proud to say I’ve survived APUSH. This may be your first AP class, as this was mine. Here’s my experience:

My first assignment was the dreadful summer assignment. I had to read this article and connect it to several events in U.S. history. Beginning the course, I had no clue how to analyze historical context, and just kind of did the assignment to the best of my ability. Thankfully, I did fairly well, which gave my grade a good foundation. Here’s ‘What I Learned from APUSH’ #1:

Tip 1: Make your writing very detailed

I had an excellent APUSH teacher who made sure the subject beat my love of history into me. Yes, I really like history. It allows you to see all of the drama unfold without you having to be there. My teacher devised tests which simulate the AP testing experience itself. It’s torture at first, but it’s really worth it when you sit down for the exam in May. We had three types of tests:

  1. Short Answer
  2. Document-based multiple choice
  3. Long form or Document-based essay

Essays were the absolute worst because your hand gets really sore in the middle etc. Unless you’re ambidextrous. Then you’re lucky. Your time has come. My first test, however, was short answer. This is where tip 1 comes into play. I was fortunate to walk out of my first APUSH test alive, but I also learned an important aspect to APUSH:

Tip 2: Make your writing specific

This is different than being detailed. You should know the circumstances/whys under which historical events happen. You should know and should be able to explain what’s happening (historical context). I got points knocked off for saying Spanish disease was part of the Black Legend. The spread of disease was actually unintentional. Being specific in writing also brings me to this:

Tip 3: Choose your words wisely

Now that you’re writing college-level essays, you may feel the need to sound all proper as if you’re…I don’t know…at a school board meeting? I mean, nothing wrong with that. I do the same thing. I’ve heard stories of unfortunate APUSH students who used synonyms and ended up changing their responses unintentionally. Just be careful the words you use don’t twist the meaning of your writing.

Tip 4DO. YOUR. READING.

I can’t stress how important it is to read in AP classes. Try to do your reading before lectures. But you know, almost no one does that. Not even me. But I wish I did. It would have made following along in class easier.

Tip 5: Put in the time

Especially when it’s AP season. Your sanity will thank you. Go over some old notes and make some flashcards. The course is centered around important events and people, and how these things affect history. What I liked to do was to learn the main points of whatever we were learning, let’s say, the revolutionary era (MY FAVORITE!!!). Here’s an incomplete list of events and other stuff which led up to the Revolution:

  • Mercantilism: Apparently Britain was America’s only (known) trading buddy
  • Salutary Neglect: Britain had to go fight other people because…Britain
  • Seven Years War/French and Indian War
  • BRITAIN’S BACK FROM THE BREAK (from America) AND IS BROKE AF
  • This leads to increased taxes and v. pissed Americans
  • Hamilton just couldn’t throw away his shot
  • Probably something I forgot
  • and BOOM a war

From this list, I can compile more events in between that stemmed from these important events. That’s just the best my trick to remembering American history. I mean, it got me a 3 on the exam, so it kinda worked?

Also important to mention that it is essential to start studying for the AP exam early. Like, A MONTH early (also the beginning of AP szn). There’s a ton more material in APUSH than other courses, as I have learned from experience. I started studying for my exam a week before it (and my class literally finished material two days before), which killed part of my soul (may it RIP).

Tip 6: Let it be, but try not to panic

Unfortunately, unexpected things pop up once in a while. At exACTLY the wrong time. At the worse possible time. Your favorite house plant had to die? Well it had to die while you tried to stuff your brain with some of G. Wash’s words. First off, I’d like to offer my condolences. I’m terribly sorry for your plant, I’m sure it lived a great life.

Basically, it happened out of our control. This means you’ll just have to work under tougher circumstances. It happened to me (not the plant thing, though that does seem like it could), and as a result, I had a tougher time studying for the exam and ended up walking out with a score lower than everyone expected (apparently my practice exam projected me at a 5, nbd). It really sucks, though. There’s all of these could-have situations, but you have to learn to accept what happened wasn’t your fault. The stars just really hated you that day.

Ah, finally, we’re nearing the end of this post.

Tip 7: Use your resources

An APUSH student shouldn’t journey alone on their quest to APUSH greatness. Besides your genius teacher and your fellow sufferers/classmates, here’s some stuff I used:

I’ll be adding more to this list once I find more resources.

If all else fails, listen to this.

Good Luck!!