Taking Advanced Placement (AP) classes in high school can be scary but it is a great opportunity for students and can provide many benefits for those who choose to take them. There are various advanced placement courses available but in this article I would like to focus on the AP history classes available for high school students such as AP World History, AP U.S. History and AP European History. These courses can be very rigorous, so it is always helpful to have some tips and tricks to help you out when taking these courses or the exams. This article will include tips that I have learned through my own experience taking AP classes, most of them being history courses.
My first tip would be to use all your resources. This could mean a lot of different things and it is really specific to you and what could help you the best. A resource could be other kids in your class that want to start a study group where you help each other prepare for upcoming tests. Another can be having the phone number of a classmate to reach out when you may be struggling. Utilizing YouTube videos or AP videos on topics or concepts you may need more help grasping can also be very resourceful. Simple Studies offers guides that may also assist you when studying as well. Take advantage of your teacher’s office hours where they are able to offer extra assistance before or after school. Especially take advantage of any extra credit your teacher offers, even if you do not need it. If you're caught up with your class and doing well, just taking a look ahead into what you will be covering in the next chapter could be a good way to stay productive.
Another tip would be to memorize writing structures. I love English, so when doing these structured writings that feel repetitive, I have a constant urge to switch things up. This is what the graders and readers love. When your writing is clearly outlined and defined they can easily check if you met certain criteria since it can be easily read. Memorizing structure is not as much of an issue for Short answer questions (SAQs) (besides having your 3 sentences for each part), but for Document-based questions (DBQs) there are many components you must remember to include. As the AP exams approach I encourage you to memorize the prompt themes you could encounter (changes & continuities, compare & contrast, etc.) and how you would create your thesis, transitions, and conclusion. If your AP teacher does not offer the chance to practice many DBQs, even if it is just each separate paragraph or component, I would highly recommend looking for past ones and using them as practice. I also recommend practicing Long essay questions (LEQs) because many teachers look over them as they see DBQs as more important.
Building off of that last fact, know the rubrics. Knowing each section's value or what requirements you must meet for maximum points on each section can be helpful. For AP histories, the weight for each section is as follows: Multiple Choice 40%, SAQs 20%, DBQs 25%, and LEQs 15%. Each of these writings is on a small point scale meaning it could be very easy to lose points and lower your score; SAQs are out of 3 points, DBQs are out of 7 points, and LEQs are out of 6 points. Look into what is needed to earn these points and when under a time crunch you know what is most important to complete or focus on. My AP European History teacher would always tell her students, do your DBQ first and take as much time as you need, then write an LEQ thesis if you have time. Since you cannot lose points, you just get points for what is answered/completed.
Overall, these are just 3 broad tips I’ve used that can help you be successful while taking your AP history classes or when trying to prepare for and pass your AP Exam. There are so many other tips and resources out there for you to utilize as you strive for success.