How to Effectively Self-Study AP World History

<p>I am now an upcoming junior. I only learned about APs as a sophomore, and I wasn't even fully aware of all of the APs I was eligible to take (silly me, I thought I actually had to take the class to take the exam). In addition, I'm far from a history nerd. I don't exactly despise history, but history is definitely near the top in my list of least favorite subjects. Before I started studying for the APWH exam, I knew nothing about history. I don't read the news, I don't read books related to history, I don't read magazines, and I wasn't even sure what century the Great Depression took place in (yes, I know, I was oblivious and living in a hermit cave). That said, I'm not an expert on AP exams and you most definitely don't have to be one either to get a 5.</p>

<p>I did take a class for AP world history, but I never paid attention because I was a major slacker during sophomore year. Basically, I used APWH as my study/doodling period and didn't even know the difference between Mesopotamia and Egypt until two nights before the SAT. I /probably/ should have paid attention, but I never did so yeah, I never learned anything from that class. Oh well. I didn't feel like studying too much, and so I crammed for two nights before the AP world history exam and was still scoring low 50's on practice tests when I went into take the exam.</p>

If you think you will have to memorize absolutely everything in your study guide, toss that idea out the window right now. You don't. Anyone who says you do is completely erroneous. In my world history class, I was not the only one who studied for the exam last minute. The difference between a 1 and a 5 lies in the way one approaches the exam. If you think of the AP world history exam as a memorization test, you may have trouble with the exam. APWH isn't memorization, it's an understanding of the nature of ourselves and those around us.</p>

I ended up buying Kaplan, 5 Steps to a 5, Barron's, and PR. I regret wasting so much money. I never even finished reading Kaplan/5 Steps to a 5, and after attempting to read my whole AP world history textbook before the exam, I never got past page 2 of the material. Don't get millions of study guides and textbooks. Save your money for something cooler like Pokemon Leaf Green. </p>

<h2>The best study guides are Barron's and Princeton Review. Princeton Review is succinct and probably has nearly all of the information you will ever have to know. Barron's is also very good, but I warn you, it has A LOT of excess information, and might not be the best book to read for crammers. </h2>

For the AP world history exam, you don't need to memorize every single date (which I unfortunately didn't know until the morning of the exam, and ended up memorizing the whole history of Russia. Yeah, I was convinced that Russia would be part of a FRQ for some odd reason). </p>

<p>I would recommend reading through your study guide more than once. The first time around, get a general idea of location/culture/history of the places that are covered. Afterwards, focus on minorities, patterns in history, and interactions (which are pretty self-explanatory anyway). Don't force yourself to memorize every single date, and don't force yourself to memorize every single detail given to you in your study guide. If you can, that's great, but if you are short on time, then all you need to do is get a general idea of culture and other broad topics. One thing you should know very well is religion though. If you know the religion of an area during a certain time period, you will find it very easy to accurately guess your way through the exam.</p>

<p>Here is a good example of this:
I didn't study much about India, and I wasn't exactly sure what the Gupta even was. I just knew that Hinduism was the predominant religion at the time. If Gupta is predominantly Hindu, then Gupta was probably not a great place to live for women. If Gupta is Hindu, then it also obviously follows Hindu beliefs, which means sati (wife throwing herself on husband's funeral pyre) and the veil. I studied patterns throughout history and focused on minorities, and so I knew that if women didn't have much rights, they were probably unable to own property, and they probably were obligated to follow the orders of men.</p>

<p>Though I didn't study anything about the Gupta, I was able to do a lot of extremely accurate guesswork, and I was easily able to answer one of the previously released FRQs from collegeboard. </p>

<p>Going back to patterns in history: Like I said at first, do NOT think of history as a memorization process. When you study, remember that famous quote about history repeating itself (okay I've heard it a lot, but I don't actually know the quote word for word). Anyways, the quote is true. History DOES repeat itself, and it's up to you to notice this. If you know broad topics, culture, and know just enough about each kingdom/country/group/place, then you will know the place's history without having ever learned it, like I did with the Gupta Empire (and several others lol). STAY ON THE LOOKOUT FOR PATTERNS. If you know patterns, you won't need to know much else. </p>

<p>Before, Collegeboard had past FRQ on their AP website, but I don't see it now... If you glanced at them before though, you'd be able to realize this pattern.</p>

<p>Here's another example taken from this year's AP compare and contrast question:</p>

<p>Compare demographic and environmental effects of the Columbian Exchange on the
Americas with the Columbian Exchange’s demographic and environmental effects on
ONE of the following regions between 1492 and 1750.

<p>After we got our scores, I asked my friends what had bothered them most about the AP exam, and they all seemed to say that the essays gave them the hardest time. One of my friends didn't even know what to write on this question and so they ended up doodling a story. At first I didn't know how to approach this question either, but I thought about it and I managed. Again, with some basic background knowledge and a lot of guesswork.</p>

<p>First of all, you should know what the Columbia Exchange was. In the most vague terms, it was basically a trade of everything between the Old and New World, and the question asks for the effects that happened from the time the trade started to 1750. I chose Europe, since most of my study guide had information pertaining to Europe.</p>

<p>When people find new land, what happens? They obviously want it. Why do they want it? Because it might profit them, bring their nation pride, etcetc.</p>

<p>As you can probably guess, that's exactly what happened. Nations sent their people to the Americas because they wanted land, and what the land could offer. </p>

<p>Now, what can land be used for again? Well in history, people find new land, like it, and settle in it. Therefore, we can guess that at least some people moved to the Americas. There you have your first effect: population change. If Europeans move to the Americas, then there is definitely going to increase in the Americas.</p>

<p>Second idea to tackle is trade, which is a huge part of history in whatever you study. Since most sugar was traded after 1750, you can't make that the foundation of your essay, but you know that you can mention it because when the Columbian Exchange began, people were starting to make plantations/etc. The making of plantations is definitely a demographic change right? Plantations need workers, and how do you get them? Well, use the natives. BUT we know this:</p>

<p>The Columbian Exchange was not only a way to trade food and animals, but also to trade ideas and, more importantly, disease. When Europeans came, they brought smallpox (a sickness), and though the Europeans were immune, the natives were not (how could they be, when they hadn't been exposed to it before, and let's not get into a discussion of natural selection). What happens when people with no immunity are exposed to a disease? That's right, the majority of them would probably fall ill and die. Therefore, we can infer that the population of NATIVES in the Americas fell, even though though Europeans were moving into the area. </p>

<p>I could continue on with a plethora of ideas that go along with this essay, but I think you understand my point. You don't HAVE to memorize everything about everything to ace the free response. Just get a general idea, understand patterns, use your common sense, and you'll be able to correctly guess your way through at least half the test.</p>


<p>The multiple choice is no different from the free response, except for the fact that it might actually be significantly EASIER. Again, if you go into the test with the mindset of memorizing everything you have to know, then you will end up approaching every question the same way... which is trying to search your brain for information you /might/ have skimmed over sometime in your past life. That's a huge waste of time. Don't do it.</p>

<p>The questions on the world history exam only have 4 answer choices (not 5 like most AP exams). This made me frolick because that's an increase from a 20 to a 25% probability of getting a totally random guess correct. If you can narrow down two answer choices, that's already a 50% chance of getting a guess correct.</p>

<p>Not just that, but if you focus on general ideas and patterns, the test will be even easier.</p>

<p>What I noticed is that a lot of the test was analysis. There are pictures, passages, quotes, and diagrams that you may have never seen in your life. If you try to think about where you might have seen these diagrams before, you'll most likely never find the answer you're looking for. I'm not even going to talk about the passage based questions, since those are a piece of cake. All you have to do is read, and choose an answer that matches the passage. No memorization involved, and you're given all of the information you need (like for the DBQ. I love the APWH DBQ for that very reason).</p>

<p>When you look at each multiple choice question, think about all of the answer choices. First of all, there will be some extremely obviously wrong ones, so cross those out immediately. If you're stuck, then think. What helped me was thinking about this:
"What is the nature of humankind? In this situation, what would a society do? What would cause this event to happen? What would be the inevitable outcome?"</p>

<p>Remember, people in history are only human. They aren't mystical creatures from Uranus that have ... mystical powers for a lack of better words. They make mistakes, they come up with wrong conclusions, they have their own beliefs, and they are included in the saying that history repeats itself.</p>

<p>Lastly, don't slack off too much. By "get a general understanding", I literally mean "get a general understanding". You can't get a 5 solely from guesswork. Like I said, don't waste your time memorizing the name of every Roman emperor before Diocletian, but you WILL need to get an idea of what went on and when it went on. You should know the religions (if any) of every area you cover, you should have some information about every place mentioned in your study guide, and you should know some major events and revolutions and deviations from normal patterns in history. </p>

<p>Here are some topics I would recommend going over before the AP (feel free to add to the list):
-Latin America
Big City-States/Kingdoms/etc (eg what happens when leaders want to expand?)
Inventions and Innovations in Technology (what was the motivation behind it? what is it used for?)
Interactions with the environment (environment is also a key in your guesswork, especially in earlier civilizations. If an environment cannot sustain a population, then what happens? What do people do to modify their environments? The environment tells us a lot about culture, money problems, invaders, government, innovation, etc)
Art and Sciences (again, culture)
Government, organization (and how effective they are)
Revolts and Revolutions (why are people displeased? what is the outcome of a revolt/revolution?)</p>

<p>etc. I'm too lazy to finish my list.</p>

<p>Anyways, I hope you get my point. To get a 5 on the APWH exam, you don't need to be a genius. You don't need to be a history whiz. You don't need to be an expert at taking APs. All you need is some background knowledge, common sense, and an understanding of society's interaction with its surroundings throughout history. Luckily for you, people, despite what others may say, are very similar to each other and often do the same things over and over again throughout history (and our daily lives as I constantly notice in my school hallways LOL). </p>

<p>Good luck with your AP endeavors! (and good luck to me with mine ohhowiwishapchemwaslikeworldhistory)</p>

<p>I probably can't answer any specific history-related questions (eg sorry, but I have no clue what dynasty silk was invented during...) but if you have any vague-ish questions I'd love to (try to) answer them. (:</p>

<p>And yes, I got a 5 on the exam. I finished the multiple choice with plenty of time left over to double and triple check my answers. On the FRQ section, I wrote 2-4 pages for each question (whereas my friend, who is a genius at history, decided to write enough to fill her whole booklet... which freaked me out big time) and I finished my essay early enough to edit and take a nap.</p>

<p>And don't wait until the night before to cram for the AP exam.
I didn't study and ended up cramming like a madman on Tuesday/Wednesday night and Thursday morning right before the exam, but... I wouldn't recommend it. </p>

<p>Find a schedule that works for you. If you have trouble remembering and/or are a slow reader, then I'd probably start studying a month before at the latest. I can't recommend you a study schedule, because studying all really depends on the person. For example, I'm glad I didn't start studying earlier because I'm a lazy bum and thought that extra studying would have been a waste of time, but I know some people who studied for 2 weeks because that was comfortable for them, and I have some people who started studying in summer 2011 for the May 2012 exam.</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice... really took away the pressure I had, because all the seniors and juniors that took the exam in my school were moaning how difficult it was. :)</p>

<p>A lot of people in my class (and the class last year) said that they had trouble with the exam as well. Last year, the highest score was a 4 and most people got 1's or 2's. Of course, the reason might be that they didn't study much (but then again I didn't either haha), but I think it's because they didn't think about using patterns and approached the exam by using facts. I talked to my friends who took the exam this year/last year, and a lot of them seemed to have trouble on the FRQ because they thought it was something obscure that they didn't learn... which was partially true I guess. Even if you have no idea about something, never leave an essay blank. Think about it for a second, and if you have a basic idea of what went on during that time period and know a little bit about trade/patterns/other interactions/etc., then you will probably be able to accurately guess your way through an essay. (Of course, if you had no idea where the Mongols/Incas even were, then you might have trouble lol)</p>

<p>The WHAP exam is actually very easy as long as you think it to be. People are similar and tend to repeat the past actions of others. Also, since people are in contact with each other, several cultures are similar. For example, if you study trade and know who was trading with whom, then you'll be able to learn a little bit about both cultures because people tend to exchange their beliefs through trade and communication. After all, that is a large part of how Buddhism spread.</p>

<p>There are some deviations from the norm, but if you learn patterns, interactions, and general ideas of cultures, I think you should find the AP exam really easy.</p>

<p>I walked in with a year's worth of AP Euro knowledge and a year's worth of APUSH knowledge and scored a 4.</p>

<p>If you have AP Euro under your belt (and APUSH, but that's a lot less relevant) and study just a bit, you should be able to score a 5.</p>

<p>Thank you so much for the advice! I took what was essentially a world history class last year, but my teacher sucked and nobody learned much in his class. Well, better start studying xD</p>

<p>I didn't even know any Euro or US history when I went in to take the exam haha. When it comes to history, I'm a failure. I could tell you general ~ideas~ on what civilizations/communities/kingdoms/republics are like (and hopefully a somewhat accurate guess on their locations), but that's about as much as I can do.</p>

<p>It's also important to note that European history is less than 20% of the test, and ancient and classical history is also less than 20%. I found the part that most people struggled with would be non US/Euro history between 1450 to modern day.</p>

<p>Yeah. AP world history doesn't focus on Europe.</p>

<p>I think most of the past FRQ I've seen are all questions that somehow pertain to minorities.</p>

<p>Ancient and classical history was a piece of cake to memorize (most of the info on that is iffy and the stuff we do know is so easy lol), but yeah.</p>

<p>I dunno. I focused more on minorities and other stuff than European history, because when it comes to Europe, I know basically nothing. I guess I just got lucky.</p>

<p>I am a sophomore as of now and I am already nervous for the AP test.....
So is it possible that the AP FRQ will be something from the past? because i am so bad with FRQs.......
This might be irrelavent, but are bio FRQs the same as WHAP FRQs?</p>

<p>Good luck to you guys, I somehow got a 5 last year taking a normal WH class. I would recommend that you start your studying early so you don't cram like I did. (I did have a slight advantage though, I used to watch the History channel when it actually showed history.)</p>

<p>Wow, I can't believe CB took away the sample FRQ's. I should've saved them so I could give them away, but sadly I had to wipe my computer during the summer.</p>

<p>create a schedule and follow it. read textbook chapters and write notes. consistenly practice frqs and mc GOOD LUCK!</p>

<p>As far as I know, the FRQ has never been repeated. There is a chance that the questions this year will be similar to those of a previous year's though. No one can ever know for sure.</p>

<p>Why did collegeboard take away the FRQ anyways?</p>

<p>Hi, I'm a sophomore and currently self-studying for the AP world. This will be my first AP exam, so I'm having a little trouble writing the essays, in particular, the DBQ. To you have any tips on how to analyze the documents for the DBQ and write the essay, or any other tips on essay writing for the AP World in general. Thanks!</p>

<p>Can you get a good score, like a 5 on the AP exam, without using the textbook but only using prep books? Thanks!</p>

<p>Thanks for the advice ^^ I feel really confident that i'll get a 4 or higher on the exam now (Which is what im aiming for). Which prep book do you recommend getting? I was thinking of getting the Princeton one</p>

<p>Omg thanks, that helps a lot!</p>

<p>Can you get a good score, like a 5 on the AP exam, without using the textbook but only using prep books? Thanks!
^ That's what I did. I had a textbook, but I was too lazy to read it so I just read my prep books a few times until I memorized everything and I got an easy 5. :P</p>

<p>Which prep book do you recommend getting? I was thinking of getting the Princeton one
^ I would recommend a combination of Princeton Review and Barron's. Barron's has some superfluous information, but works nicely as a complement for PR since PR isn't thorough enough to get you a 5 on the AP exam. What I would do is read PR first to conceptualize everything and get a vague idea of chronology/culture/patterns/etc, and then read Barron's to get all of the details that you will need for your essay. My friends say that the 5 Steps to a 5 MC most accurately simulate the AP exam, but I couldn't score higher than ~50% on the 5 Steps to a 5 MC so I would have to disagree with them. If you are short on cash, then just get Barron's, but if you can afford both, then DEFINITELY get both. Barron's will bore you to death if you attempt to read it over a million times without anything to complement it hahaha.</p>

<p>To you have any tips on how to analyze the documents for the DBQ and write the essay, or any other tips on essay writing for the AP World in general. Thanks!
^ For the DBQ, take a few minutes to read over the docs. Don't spend too much time on this part, but you should take a little bit to summarize, group, and paraphrase the docs. Take brief notes as you go along. After you finish that and have an idea of what you want to write about, you can also make an outline to organize everything. Then, start writing! Make sure you keep track of time though so that you don't take too much time on one essay.</p>

<p>(Personally, I hate outlines because they make me forget what I want to say, but I have friends who can't write without outlines so each to his/her own I guess.)</p>

<p>For the APWH essays, the key is to apply what you have memorized to the question, even though the relevance might not be obvious. In a way, I guess you could say that the APWH essays are about critical reading and analysis. That's what I like about AP. The SAT II asks you random questions about details that you may have never learned about, but the AP asks you to apply your knowledge to situations and use critical thinking skills rather than rote memorization.</p>

<p>Hey! I just wanted to say that your post is SO USEFUL - like I'm down on my knees praising God for letting me finding this - but I have a quick question. How useful would the Barron's book be if paired with some Kaplan APWH flashcards? I only bought one review book, and since the exam is 3 weeks from tomorrow, I'm thinking I won't have time to cram another in. I am actually is a situation similar to yours - I spent my 90 minute class period texting, gossiping, drawing, sleeping, and doing homework for my other AP classes (When you're taking 5 APs, you automatically sacrifice your productivity in at least one class haha). So here I am, 3 weeks before my exam, with my Barron's book, flashcards, and textbook sitting on my desk waiting for me to get started. The part I'm most worried about is definitely the essays, particularly the CCOT essay. I'm not used to writing these as I'm used to writing essays in a different format for AP Bio. DBQ essays should come easily since it doesn't require much prior knowledge, and I always thought that DBQs were similar to synthesis essays from AP English Lang (I took that my junior year). But CCOT and C&C essays? Eeeeeek. Honestly, most of my focus is on AP Bio, AP French, AP Human Geo, and AP Mircoeconomics, so I have put this class on the back burner and all I'm hoping for is a 3 at minimum. I am very thankful though - I am in Human Geo (For anyone reading this post that hasn't taken either of these classes: I STRONGLY recommend taking them together in the same year. A lot of the material goes hand-in-hand, and the elements of Human Geography are closely aligned with the themes of AP World). So, any more advice you can give me? I would honestly be satisfied with a 3, because the university I'm going to gives out the same credit whether you score a 3, 4, or 5! SO any more advice is MUCH appreciated!</p>