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:
- Short Answer
- Document-based multiple choice
- 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 4: DO. 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:
- AP Central, for exam info and released questions. Official exam questions are good practice.
- Night-Studying’s APUSH Study Guides
- APUSH Masterpost 2.0
- John Green’s Crash Course U.S. History (a savior)
- The American Pageant, 15th Edition notes
- Patriotic Rice Krispie Treats Recipe
I’ll be adding more to this list once I find more resources.
If all else fails, listen to this.