The APUSH exam gets the reputation of being a difficult exam to pass due to the fact that there is alot of historical information that must be learned before you can perform well on the exam. However, it is this same fact that makes the APUSH exam easy to pass IF you prepare correctly and focus your time effectively. I figured I would write this step-by-step guide to help everyone out who was going to take the exam in may 2011.
Basically the overall preparation process goes like this:
1. Understand the exam process
2. Learn the historical information
3. Take practice exams, figure out your weaknesses and review the necessary concepts
4. Learn to write DBQs/FRQs and practice writing them.
Rinse and repeat steps 3 and 4 as necessary. Obviously the above is easier said than done, so lets break it down.
STEP 1 - Understanding the exam process
This step consists of learning how the exam works, what information will be tested and how that information will be tested. How many multiple choice questions? how many essays? How much time do we have? etc.
This guide answers all of those questions:
- AP US History Exam Grading - AP US History Exam Review Course -
STEP 2 - Learn the historical information
Now that you know exactly what is tested on the exam. You now need to learn that actual information. If you are taking a classroom based class then this information is provided to you in the form of a textbook. In order to get a 5 on the exam, you need to read the entire textbook. Don't slack off and make excuses. Saying you are going to read a review book instead of the textbook is just making an excuse to be lazy. Sit down, read the textbook and know the information.
STEP 3 - Take practice exams, figure out your weaknesses and review the necessary concepts
Once you've finished reading the textbook it is now time to take practice exams. Practice exams are the best way to review since you get real world experience on what to expect on the real APUSH exams. Old released exams are good but don't provide you with much feedback other than the what you got wrong. Its time consuming to go back and analyze the results. The real advantage comes when you break down what you know and what you don't know. Then review the information you don't know. Doing the trial and error method of review is the absolutely best way to prepare for the exam. Repeat this step over and over. Doing this process effectively will make the difference between getting a 4 and a 5. I would recommend using these simulation exams since it breaks down your results VERY DETAILED. It gives you your AP score, what time periods you got correct, what question types you got right and then gives you a list of topics to review. It pretty much tells you what to review.
- AP US History Practice Test - AP US History Exam Review Course -
STEP 4 - Learn to write DBQs/FRQs and practice writing them.
Over 50% of your entire score is going to come from essays. As a result, learning to write a perfect APUSH essay is absolutely necessary. If you can't write a good essay then you will absolutely not be able to get a 5. To learn to write a good essay you simply need to review old DBQ and FRQ prompts and practice writing responses to them. Make sure to time yourself correctly to give you a similar writing experience. Make sure to practice writing legibly if your handwriting is bad. Print out sheets like the one below and just practice until you get good. If the reader can't read your writing then you will get a 0 on the essay.
getting a 0 will pretty much guarantee you wont get a 5.
Well, thats all there is to it. If you can do the 4 above steps you will absolutely get a 5. Remember only 10% of test takers get a 5 but using effective study strategies and the right tools getting one of those 5 will be easier than ever. Remember, 90% of test takers don't get a 5 simply because they used ineffective study strategies and didn't allocate their time effectively. Don't be one of those 90%!!!
Good luck everyone and study hard!