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Your Guide to Success in AP World History

AP World History can be a very overwhelming topic, if you don’t know the best approach to studying it and preparing for the AP exam. From personal experience, these are my suggestions to help you succeed in your AP class as well as on the exam.
Your Guide to Success in AP World History

Stay ahead of  the reading

It can be very tedious to keep up with reading each chapter before you discuss it in class, but without reading the chapters, you will most likely not do well. You should read the entirety of the chapter and take notes on all the major events, peoples, changes, and ideas that are mentioned. You are more likely to remember something if you write it down, than if you just read it.

Don’t memorize dates

There will be some dates which you will need to know, but you don’t need to stress over every single date mentioned to you. Your time will be better spent familiarizing yourself with the 6 periods and the major elements of each period.

Follow the 6 periods

The 6 periods used in AP World History are:

  1. Technology and Environmental Transformation (Beginning of civilization to 600 BCE)
  2. Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies (600 BCE to 600 CE)
  3. Regional and Trans-regional Interactions (600 CE to 1450 CE)
  4. Global Interactions (1450 CE to 1750 CE)
  5. Industrialization and Global Integration (1750 CE to 1900 CE)
  6. Accelerating Global changes and realignments (1900 CE to present)

Knowing what the world was like in each period will help you to develop a deeper understanding of how cultures and societies developed.

The AP  World History exam likes to test on..

The most common subjects are: world religions, culture, women, minorities, trade, Africa, Latin America, technology, the role of the environment, government structure and revolutions A general rule of thumb is that if it has happened at least twice, you should know it. However, this doesn’t mean you have to memorize every single revolution that has ever happened. However, you do need to understand how the major revolutions came about, and how they changed and impacted society.

Use maps!

First of all, you should familiarize yourself with the location of countries in the world. Try to know as many as you can. You should also create a map for each period of the world, showing the major regions mentioned, and the location of major people and events. This will help you in understanding the period, and give you a visual way to see how the world changed over time. This will be helpful when you are writing an essay.

AP World History Essays

First off, make sure you understand exactly what you’re being asked. Are you supposed to compare and contrast two civilizations? Are you discussing several events that happened within one period? Once you are sure you understand the question, you need a thesis. For a thesis, use PIE – Period, Issue, Examples.  MAKE SURE TO INCLUDE EXAMPLES IN YOUR THESIS. This is not like a language arts essay, your thesis acts as a mini-outline. The graders should know exactly what you’re going to talk about in the whole essay just from your thesis. Once you have a thesis, make sure you have evidence in each of your body paragraphs, and consider why you put in that evidence. Try to have as many strong examples as possible. Do not fill your essay with extra pointless fluff. It’s not about the length, it’s about having really strong content.

Additional Resources

This website is run by the creators of the AP World History exam. You can see old released essay questions here and learn more about how the exam is structured and graded.

The author of The Fault in Our Stars created this video series for world history which discusses and summarizes each period in world history. Great for helping you understand periods as a whole.

This AP World History teacher created his own website with resources to help you understand just about everything you could possibly need.

You can do this!! Go get that 5! 🙂