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Study Tips with the Raj: 12/5/23




Hello and welcome to my column! For those who are new to the column, allow me to explain how Study Tips with The Raj works. Every week, I feature a few different classes (e.g. English 10, AP Bio, Sports Medicine) and an upcoming assignment that is due in each class, and I give tips on how to complete the assignment and general tips on how to succeed in the class. This time, I will feature the 2 AP History classes at our school, AP World History and AP United States History without featuring any assignments, as the tips apply to the courses as a whole.

AP World History

AP World History: Modern is a college-level history course taught primarily to sophomores, usually by Ms. Knight or Mr. Kimmons. The course covers historical events from around the world from the year 1200 all the way to the modern day. This class is usually the first AP class that many students take, and it is therefore notorious for its difficulty. Like all AP classes, the topics you learn throughout the course all lead up to an AP exam in May.

  • Look for the big picture: Although phrases like “In 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” have been ingrained into our heads since we were kids, the AP World curriculum doesn’t necessarily require that you focus so heavily on memorizing dates and individuals. Instead, the College Board put a special emphasis on gaining knowledge of general ideas, such as the process of industrialization or colonization over time.

Christopher Columbus is one of a rather short list of people who you'll have to know by name in the AP World History course

(Sebastiano del Piombo's Portrait of a Man, Said to Be Christopher Columbus from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art)

  • Take. Those. Notes. : In order to process over 800 years of history, note-taking becomes the most important tool you can use. Notes allow you to break down the long nightly textbook readings into comprehensible chunks, which gives you invaluable study time both before the exam as well as the unit tests. Even if Ms. Knight requires that you do notes a specific way, you can also watch YouTube channels like Hiemler's History in addition to note-taking if you're more comfortable studying another way.

Out of the 3 hours and 15 minutes (195 minutes) in the AP World Exam, 2 hours and 20 minutes (140 minutes) are spent writing, or around 72% of the exam

(Derived from the AP World History Course and Exam Description found on the College Board website)

  • Practice your writing: Nearly 75% of the AP World History exam is spent writing, whether it be short-answer questions or hour-long document-based questions. Therefore, one shouldn't neglect learning how to write, which goes beyond simply knowing the material. On top of being familiar with historical topics, you'll also need to know how to write a thesis and defend it, either with provided documents or through your own knowledge.

General Tips for AP World History:

It's easy to feel overwhelmed by the work and topics in AP World, even if you think you had a strong understanding of history beforehand. Nevertheless, don't get discouraged, as both the College Board and Ms. Knight know that this is probably your first AP class, and often plan and grade accordingly. The goal of the course is for you to gain a better understanding of how our world has evolved over the recent centuries, so take a step back and appreciate the collective efforts of billions of people over time.

AP United States History

AP United States History is another college-level history course usually taken by juniors. Mrs. Morris teaches the course and covers topics in American history from the period right before European colonization up to recent years. Compared to AP World History, APUSH is notable for its units covering shorter periods (40-100 years) compared to world history units (150-250 years), which also means topics are elaborated on in more depth in APUSH.

  • Keep track of your eras: In America's relatively short 250-year history, the nation has gone through rapid changes in both size and social conditions. For instance, in the year 1800, America did not have land west of the Mississippi River and slavery was widely practiced, but by the year 1899, American territory spanned from coast to coast, slavery was banned, and the nation had global influence. Such an example shows that if you don't pay attention to even a few decades of American history, you can lose track quickly.

This is a map of America depicting the territory gained during the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, showing how America had only really constituted the East Coast at the start of the 19th century and how quickly it gained territory

(Credit: Encyclopedia Britannica)

  • You see the effects of American history best in America: In contrast to AP World History, where it may be more difficult to see the effects of certain historical events, by being in America and being at least slightly familiar with how systems work, you can have the advantage of being able to comprehend the material better. For instance, the Constitution that was written by the Founding Fathers over 200 years ago is still a widely used document to this day, as well as the structures of governments like the presidency and Supreme Court. Given that these topics affect our everyday lives, we're better able to understand their roots in history.

The White House is one of the most famous buildings in American history, being over 200 years old. In that time, dozens of presidents have resided there and have changed the course of modern history.

(Credit: Getty Images)

  • The overwhelming emphasis is on America: In APUSH, our nation is given our full attention, unlike in AP World where your time is divided between multiple continents. Consequently, you won't have to worry much about topics like identifying the regions of the world, nor remembering as many empires. The drawback to this is that instead of simply gaining the bigger picture of American history, periods even down to individual decades and presidential terms are studied.

General Tips for AP United States History:

People usually take APUSH after taking AP World History, but if you took regular history as a sophomore, don't worry, Mrs. Morris will help you catch up. However, there's no denying that due to the exam formats are identical for both exams, including how the essays are written. Thus, having a year of AP writing experience under your belt doesn't hurt. In addition, even people who have taken AP World may initially find the change of historical pacing in APUSH a bit jarring, but you'll get used to it with time.


That wraps up history week with Study Tips with the Raj. If you’re in AP World or APUSH, I hope that you do well in your classes and keep studying. If you’re not currently taking either of these classes, I hope that these tips can help you gain a better understanding of how each class works. Next week I’ll be back with a few more featured classes where I’ll explain how to get their assignments done. If you have any comments or want to suggest a class to be featured, you can message me on my Instagram “the_raj_man”. But with that, thank you for reading, and this is the Raj signing off.


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