Course Syllabus 2018-19

Course Description

The AP U.S. History course focuses on the development of historical thinking skills (chronological reasoning, comparing and contextualizing, crafting historical arguments using historical evidence, and interpreting and synthesizing historical narrative) and an understanding of content learning objectives organized around seven themes, such as identity, peopling, and America in the world. In line with college and university U.S. history survey courses’ increased focus on early and recent American history and decreased emphasis on other areas, the AP U.S. History course expands on the history of the Americas from 1491 to 1607 and from 1980 to the present. It also allows teachers flexibility across nine different periods of U.S. history to teach topics of their choice in depth.

AP Test Description (from the College Board website)

Exam Description

The AP U.S. History Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long and includes both
a 105-minute multiple-choice/short-answer section and a 90-minute free- response section. Each section is divided into two parts, as shown in the table below. Student performance on these four parts will be compiled and weighted to determine an AP Exam score.

Time Management

Students need to learn to budget their time so that they can complete all parts of the exam. Time management is especially critical with regard to Section II, which consists of two essay questions. Time left is announced, but students are not forced to move to the next question. Students often benefit from taking a practice exam under timed conditions prior to the actual administration.

How Student Learning Is Assessed on the AP Exam

The following are general parameters about the relationship between the components of the curriculum framework and the questions that will be asked of students on the AP Exam:

  • Students’ achievement of the thematic learning objectives will be assessed throughout the exam.

  • Students’ use of the historical thinking skills will be assessed throughout the exam.

  • Students’ understanding of all nine periods of U.S. history will be assessed throughout the exam.

  • No document-based question or long essay question will focus exclusively on events prior to 1607 (Period 1) or after 1980 (Period 9). 

  • Students will always write at least one essay — in either the document- based question or long essay — that examines long-term developments that span historical time periods.

  • The coverage of the periods in the exam as a whole will reflect the approximate period weightings

Multiple-Choice Questions

The multiple-choice section will contain a number of sets of questions, with between two and five questions per set, that ask students to respond to stimulus material — a primary or secondary source, including texts, images, charts, graphs, maps, etc. This stimulus material will reflect the types of evidence that historians use in their research on the past. The set of multiple-choice questions about the material will draw upon knowledge required by the curriculum framework, and each question will address one of the learning objectives for the course. While a set may focus on one particular period of U.S. history, the individual questions within that set may ask students to make connections to thematically linked developments in other periods.

Multiple-choice questions will assess students’ ability to reason about the stimulus material in tandem with their knowledge of the historical issue at hand. The possible answers for a multiple-choice question will reflect the level of detail present in the required historical developments found in the concept outline for the course. Events and topics contained in the illustrative example boxes of the curriculum framework will not appear in multiple-choice questions (unless accompanied by text that fully explains the topic to the student).

Short-Answer Questions

Short-answer questions will directly address one or more of the thematic learning objectives for the course. At least two of the four questions will have elements of internal choice, providing opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know best. All of the short-answer questions will require students to use historical thinking skills to respond to a primary source, a historian’s argument, nontextual sources such as data or maps, or general propositions about U.S. history. Each question will ask students to identify and analyze examples of historical evidence relevant to the source or question; these examples can be drawn from the concept outline or from other examples explored in depth during classroom instruction. 

Document-Based Question

The document-based question measures students’ ability to analyze and synthesize historical data and to assess verbal, quantitative, or visual materials as historical evidence. As with the long essay, responses to the document-
based question will be judged on students’ ability to formulate a thesis and support it with relevant evidence. The documents included in the document- based question are not confined to a single format, may vary in length, and are chosen to illustrate interactions and complexities within the material. Where suitable, the documents will include charts, graphs, cartoons, and pictures, as well as written materials. In addition to calling upon a broad spectrum of historical skills, the diversity of materials will allow students to assess the value of different sorts of documents. The document-based question will typically require students to relate the documents to a historical period or theme and, thus, to focus on major periods and issues. For this reason, outside knowledge beyond the specific focus of the question is important and must be incorporated into the student’s essay to earn the highest scores.

Long Essay Question

To provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know best, they will be given a choice between two comparable long essay options. The long essay questions will measure the use of historical thinking skills to explain and analyze significant issues in U.S. history as defined by the thematic learning objectives. Student essays must include the development of a thesis or argument supported by an analysis of specific, relevant historical evidence. Questions will be limited to topics or examples specifically mentioned in the concept outline but framed to allow student answers to include in-depth examples of large-scale phenomena, either drawn from the concept outline or from topics discussed in the classroom.