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AP US History Exam: Information to Know

Day before the test
Review all of your handouts the night before the test. Think about your multiple choice and writing strategies. Do not try
to review any new content. Get a good night’s rest. Enter your testing site at least 10 minutes before the test begins with
#2 pencils, 2 black or blue pens, and an eraser.


Section 1.1: Multiple Choice (55 Questions/55 minutes)

The Multiple Choice is worth 40% of your exam score.

The most important thing is to answer all questions; you are not penalized for wrong choices. You will not receive time
reminders or warnings within each section, so bring a watch (turn off the beeper) or keep an eye on the clock. Write down
your start and end time somewhere in your test booklet.

1. Read Source Material first (start with CONTEXT)

2. Read each question associated with the Source Material
3. Read/Analyze the Source Material
a. Make notes or annotations in case you have to skip and come back
4. Read ALL answer choices for each question stem

There are three possible situations you will find yourself in:
1. You know the answer right away. Awesome! – move on, don’t second guess yourself.
2. You are unsure but can eliminate choices
a. Set an “elimination rule” before the test begins.
i. if you eliminate enough answers, take time to consider your remaining choices
ii. if you cannot eliminate enough answers skip to option #3
3. You have no clue and cannot eliminate any choices--guess your favorite letter and move on

At some point you may be running out of time (2 minutes to go). If you have time, go back over the questions/answers for
which you had to eliminate choices. This helps some people catch mistakes, but can force others into making new
mistakes; choose what is best for you.

Section 1.2: Short Answer Questions (SAQs) (3 Questions/40 minutes)

The Short Answer section is worth 20% of your exam score.

Each SAQ is divided into 2-3 parts (a, b, c) and must be labeled on the correct test sheet. Each part represents a separate
response and is worth one full point each. You will need to spend about 4-5 minutes on each part (yes, for real!). The
SAQs will appear in chronological order (1491-Present). You will have a specific space in your answer booklet to record
your response; you may only use the space allotted to you, or it will not be read.

1. The first two questions are REQUIRED and cover a topic from Period 3-8; the third question you may choose
between a topic from Periods 1-5 or 6-9 (with the same type of skill required for either choice)
2. Answer SAQs starting with your strongest question set and finishing with your weakest question set
a. Spend the most time on your areas of strength and the least time on your areas of weakness
3. You MUST include specific factual information (vocabulary words, events, people), a direct answer, and complete
sentences or you will receive no credit.

Break Time (5 minutes)

This time can be very valuable to you. If you are allowed to, get out of your seat! Simply standing helps circulate more
blood to your brain and helps wake you up and improve focus. Try to completely block out the first half of the test. It is
over and you have no control over it at this point. Take a deep breath...and get ready to tackle section 2!

Recommended pacing (including reading time): Translate Identify what the question is asking and put it into your own
 Document-Based Question (DBQ) 60 words
Organize List the historical topics you remember that are relevant to the
minutes TOTAL (25% of total exam
score) Categorize topics—use key vocab consistently
 Long Essay Question (LEQ) 40 minutes Include documents on DBQs
TOTAL (15% of total exam score) Thesis Answer all parts of the question in one paragraph
Be Specific and Concise
Reading & Writing Time (100 minutes) Essay Follow the outline you created, describe the history you know
The most critical 15 minutes of the entire exam is EXPLAIN why it is significant to your thesis
reading; your success for the next 1.5 hours will largely be dependent on your effective use of this time to review and
prepare for both the DBQ and LEQ.
 DBQ (~10 minutes)
o Read the question and documents
o Make a rough outline of your supporting paragraphs using a t-chart of documents
 Make a list of outside information to include (vocab, events, people)
o Write out your thesis based on your understanding of the documents and background knowledge
o If time, identify areas of focus for CONTEXT (intro) and SYNTHESIS (conclusion)
 LEQ (~5 minutes)
o Select which of the two essays you will choose to write about
 If you have trouble deciding, make a fact list and choose the one you have more facts for
o If you have time, write a thesis and a rough outline

DO NOT begin writing in your answer booklet until you have prepared an outline for your DBQ.
You will have to pace yourself and keep track of the time on your own; time reminders or announcements are not

Tips for Success:

1. Complete the DBQ first!
a. It is worth 25% of your exam score and should be your best essay
b. Remember to use 6-7 of the included documents to be considered for full points
i. Balance your information as much as possible--NEVER use a document without using outside
information (vocabulary)
c. Specifically label your document use (ex: Doc 3) and AVOID relying on quotes
i. Incorporate 1 HAPP skill for at least FOUR documents
d. You must use:
i. Contextualization in your introduction
ii. Synthesis in your conclusion
2. Complete the LEQ
a. If you have not prepared for the LEQ, do that now. ALWAYS pre-write or outline before beginning your
b. Write your LEQ with at least 25 minutes remaining if you spend more time on the DBQ.
i. Use the same good writing skills you used with the DBQ
ii. You must use:
1. Contextualization in your introduction
2. Synthesis in your conclusion
c. Provide substantial amounts of specific factual information (vocabulary)
i. Unlike the DBQ, you have to provide everything for this essay

Be sure to use good penmanship throughout your writing sections. This may require you to write more slowly
or more deliberately. Continue working until they tell you to stop, even if that means re-reading your essays
multiple times.
REQUIRED ELEMENTS for Section I B: Short Answer Essays

SAQ (3 points each)

Each part of an SAQ should be answered with a minimum of three sentences. ACE it.
A = Answer. You directly answer the question by identifying your claim.
C = Cite. You briefly define/describe your claim.
E = Expand. You connect your claim through historical context.

Prompt (1a.): Briefly explain ONE important political response to the conflict over slavery in the period 1850 to 1860.

Answer: The 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act was another attempt to settle the sectional conflict over slavery during the 1850s.
Cite: The act split the Nebraska Territory into two new territories, Nebraska and Kansas, and allowed each territory to
determine whether they would be a free state or slave state through popular sovereignty.
Expand: Although the Act attempted to settle the conflict over slavery through a more democratic means, The Kansas-
Nebraska Act consequently allowed slavery to expand beyond the Missouri Compromise line of 36' 30 and was
considered a political victory for "slave power."

REQUIRED ELEMENTS for Section II: Free Response Essays

DBQ (7 total points)

Introduction (4-6 sentences MAXIMUM)
Thesis (1 point)
 Directly answer the prompt by taking a position on the historical argument
 Provide organization for your discussion points
o FOLLOW THE FORMULA: X (respond directly to the prompt) because of A, B, (C) (organization/ex.
points), resulting in Y (thesis/action).
Extended Thesis (1 point)
 Argue a counterpoint (specific, contradictory document evidence) to the argument in the essay.

Body paragraphs:
Context (1 point)
 Past: related information from previous historical period (The United States had a history of …, during the
era of … it had evolved/changed into…) and/or
 Present: broad theme from this essay’s historical period (During the era of/it was a time of…)

Supporting argumentative points WITH EVIDENCE (2 points)

1. Connect it: Write a full intro sentence that links your thesis to your points in this paragraph (sub-thesis)
2. Must include 6 of 7 documents (with references in parenthesis) with NO DIRECT QUOTES (3 points)
o Name it: State author’s name and type of document (Jefferson, in his letter…)
o Cite it: Include a parenthetical citation of document number (Doc 1)
3. ANALYZE each document using ONE of H, A, P, Pov (or you will not receive credit); underline it to make sure
it’s included if you must!
o Historical context- What events, trends surrounded this document (map, chart)?
 ... proves the larger story of… … fits with…. … illustrates how…
o Audience- Who is the intended primary audience? Who else would hear or see it?
 (Audience’s name), a man/woman/group who…
o Point of View- Role in society? Beliefs on the topic?
 (Author’s name), a man/woman/group who…
o Purpose- What is the author trying to accomplish? Why?
 POSTIVE- Promoted Outlined Introduced
 NEGATIVE- Exposed Justified Disagreed
4. Must tie in outside information (i.e., vocabulary or people related to docs) (1 point)
o What are 1-2 specific people, events, laws, court cases, concepts to name drop for each body paragraph?
Example: Eli Whitney’s cotton gin made cotton immensely profitable in the South causing its leaders to become so reliant on slave
labor to maximize their profits that they arrogantly defended it. Senator Hammond, in his speech to Congress, challenges the Northern
Congressmen, who by this time have a growing abolitionist population, to fight against the package deal of cotton and slavery (Doc 2).

Synthesis (1 point)
 Connect the topic to other periods, geographic areas, or circumstances
o Make a connection to and name drop an unrelated piece of evidence
o What generally happens next in this topic or with this general theme in US history?
 Later/next this will evolve into…

LEQ (6 total points)

Thesis (1 point)
 Directly answer the prompt by taking a position on the historical argument
 Provide organization for your discussion points
o FOLLOW THE FORMULA: X (respond directly to the prompt) because of A, B, C (organization/ex.
points), resulting in Y (thesis/action).

Body paragraphs:
Context (1 point)
 Past and/or related information from previous and essay’s historical period

Supporting argumentative points WITH EVIDENCE (up to 3 points)

 Must tie in SPECIFIC, RELEVANT outside information (i.e., vocabulary, events)

Synthesis (1 point)
 Connect the topic to other periods, geographic areas, or circumstances OR
 Argue a counterpoint (specific, contradictory document evidence) to the argument in the essay
Novels commonly found on the AP Exam
 Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe – fictional description of slavery’s evils, wide readership, credited
with influencing more to the abolitionist cause
 Influence of Sea Power Upon History by Alfred T. Mahan – 1890’s book which predicts that the next major war
between empires will be won or lost on the oceans
 A Century of Dishonor by Helen Hunt Jackson – Early 1890’s novel criticizing government policies towards Native
tribes. She sent a red leather bound, signed copy to each member of Congress.
 The Octopus by Frank Norris – exemplifies and criticizes the monopoly held by the railroads and how it strangled
the American farmer.
 Wealth by Andrew Carnegie—created the idea of philanthropy as a solution to social ills during the Gilded Age.
 How the Other Half Lives by Jacob Riis – photojournalism book portraying the horrors of tenement housing and
inner city conditions. Sometimes criticized for staging some of the photos/muckraking/yellow journalism
 The Jungle by Upton Sinclair – somewhat sensationalized account of the meatpacking industry in Chicago and
the unsanitary conditions there. Contributes to Teddy Roosevelt’s signing of the Meat Inspection Act, but fails
to convince the populace of its socialist message.
 The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – exemplifies and subtly criticizes the rampant materialism and greed of
the 1920’s post World War I generation.
 The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck – story of a Dust Bowl family’s migration to California and the hardships
of the Great Depression
 Silent Spring by Rachel Carson – considered by many to be the beginning of the modern environmental
movement, her book lamented the effects of pesticides on the animal population (and the dangers of the
chemical DDT in particular)

Former AP US History Essay Prompts

Unit LEQs DBQs
Compare and contrast the experience of slaves on tobacco In what ways did ideas and values held by
Colonial Era plantations in the early seventeenth-century Chesapeake Puritans influence the political, economic and
region with that of slaves on nineteenth-century cotton social developments of the New England
Period 1-2 plantations in the Deep South. What forces transformed the colonies from 1630 through the 1660s?
1491-1607 institution of slavery from the early seventeenth-century to
1607-1754 the nineteenth-century.

Compare and contrast the British, French, and Spanish

imperial goals in North America between 1580 and 1763.

Early encounters between American Indians and European

colonists led to a variety of relationships among different

Analyze how the actions taken by BOTH American Indians

and European colonists shaped the relationships in TWO of
the following regions. Confine your answer to the 1600s.
New England Chesapeake
Spanish Southwest New York and New France

Analyze the differences between the Spanish settlements in

the Southwest and the English colonies in New England in
the seventeenth century in terms of TWO of the following:
Economic development

Analyze the impact of the Atlantic trade routes established

in the mid 1600’s on economic development in the British
North American colonies. Consider the period 1650-1750.
Compare the ways in which religion shaped the development
of colonial society (to 1740) in TWO of the following
New England
Middle Atlantic

How did economic, geographic, and social factors encourage

the growth of slavery as an important part of the economy of
the southern colonies between 1607 and 1775?

Analyze the cultural and economic responses of the British

and Spanish to the Indians of North America before 1750.

Analyze the ways in which British imperial policies between To what extent did the American Revolution
Forming a New 1763 and 1776 intensified colonials’ resistance to British fundamentally change American society? In
Nation rule and their commitment to republican values. your answer be sure to address the political,
social and economic effects of the Revolution
Period 3 Analyze the effect of the French and Indian War and its in the period from 1775 to 1800.
1754-1800 aftermath on the relationship between Great Britain and the
British colonies. Confine your response to the period from In what ways did the French and Indian War
1754 to 1776. (1754-63) alter the political, economic and
ideological relations between Britain and its
Analyze the origins and development of slavery in Britain’s American colonies? Use the documents and
North American colonies in the period 1607 to 1776. your knowledge of the period 1740-1766 in
constructing your answer.
Analyze the political, diplomatic, and military reasons for
the United States’ victory in the Revolutionary War. Confine
your answer to the period 1775-1783.

Analyze how the ideas and experiences of the revolutionary

era influenced the principles embodied in the Articles of

“The United States Constitution of 1787 represented an

economic and ideological victory for the traditional
American political elite.” Assess the validity of that
statement for the period 1781 to 1789.

To what extent was the United States Constitution a radical

departure from the Articles of Confederation?

Analyze the impact of the American Revolution on both

slavery and the status of women from 1775-1800.

Settlers in the eighteenth-century American backcountry

sometimes resorted to violent protest to express their
grievances. Analyze the causes and significance of TWO of
the following:
March of the Paxton Boys
Regulator Movement
Shays’ Rebellion
Whiskey Rebellion

To what extent was the election of 1800 aptly named the

“Revolution of 1800?” Respond with reference to TWO of
the following areas:
Foreign Policy
Developing Pol. Although the power of the national government increased Historians have traditionally labeled the period
Parties & during the early republic, this development often faced after the War of 1812 the “Era of Good
The Era of serious opposition. Compare the motives and effectiveness Feelings.” Evaluate the accuracy of this label,
Good Feelings of those opposed to the growing power of the national considering the emergence of nationalism and
government in TWO of the following. sectionalism. Use the documents and your
Period 4 Whiskey Rebellion, 1794 knowledge of the period 1815-1825 to construct
1800-1848 Virginia and Kentucky Resolutions, 1789-1799 your answer.
Hartford Convention, 1814-1815
Nullification Crisis, 1832-1833 Explain the ways that the participation in
political campaigns and elections in the United
To what extent did political parties contribute to the States changed between 1815 and 1840, and
development of national unity in the United States between analyze forces and events that led to these
1790 and 1840? changes.

The Jacksonian Period (1824-1848) has been celebrated as From 1775-1830, many African Americans
the era of the “common man.” To what extent did the period gained freedom from slavery, yet during the
live up to its characterization? Consider TWO of the same period the institution of slavery
following in your response. expanded. Explain why BOTH of these
Economic development changes took place. Analyze the ways that
Politics BOTH free African Americans and enslaved
Reform movements African Americans responded to the challenges
confronting them.
In what ways did the Second Great Awakening in the North
influence TWO of the following? “Reform movements in the United States
Abolitionism sought to expand democratic ideals.” Assess
Temperance the validity of this statement with specific
The cult of domesticity reference to the years 1825-1850.
Utopian communities

Analyze the political, economic, and religious tensions

between immigrant Roman Catholics and native-born
Protestants in the United States from 1830s through the

Compare the experiences of TWO of the following groups

of immigrants during the period 1830 to 1860.

In what ways did developments in industry and

transportation bring about economic and social change in the
United States in the period 1820-1860?

Analyze the impact of the Market Revolution (1815-1860)

on the economies of TWO of the following regions.
The Northeast The Midwest
The South

Manifest In the early nineteenth century, Americans

Destiny, the U.S. Analyze the ways in which controversy over the extension sought to resolve their political disputes
Civil War, and of slavery into the western territories contributed to the through compromise, yet by 1860 this no
Reconstruction coming of the Civil War. Confine your answer to the period longer seemed possible. Analyze the reasons
1845-1861. for this change. Use the documents and your
Period 5 knowledge of the years 1820-1860 in
1844-1877 Analyze the social, political, and economic forces of the constructing your response.
1840s and early 1850s that led to the emergence of the
Republican Party. The issue of territorial expansion sparked
considerable debate in the period 1800-1855.
To what extend did the debates about the Mexican War and Analyze this debate and evaluate the influence
its aftermath reflect the sectional interests of New of both the supporters and opponents of
Englanders, westerners, and southerners in the period from territorial expansion in shaping federal
1845 to 1855? government policy.

Evaluate the impact of the Civil War on political and In what ways did African Americans shape the
economic developments in TWO of the following regions. course and consequences of the Civil War?
Focus your answer on the period 1865-1900. Confine your answer to the period 1861-1870.
The South
The North Discuss the changing ideals of American
The West womanhood between the American Revolution
(1770’s) and the outbreak of the Civil War.
Assess the moral arguments and political actions of those What factors fostered the emergence of a
opposed to the spread of slavery in the context of TWO of “republican motherhood” and the “cult of
the following. domesticity”? Assess the extent to which these
Missouri Compromise ideals influenced the lives of women during
Mexican War this period. In your answer be sure to consider
Compromise of 1850 issues of race and class.
Kansas-Nebraska Act

Following Reconstruction, many Southern leaders prompted

the idea of a “New South.” To what extent was this “New
South” a reality by the time of the First World War? In your
answer be sure to address TWO of the following.
Economic development
Race relations

Explain why and how the role of the federal government

changed as a result of the Civil War with respect to TWO of
the following during the period 1861-1877:
Race relations
Economic development
Westward expansion

The Gilded Age For whom and to what extent was the American West a land Analyze the ways in which government policy,
& American of opportunity from 1865 to 1890? technology, and economic conditions changed
Imperialism American agriculture in the period 1865–1900.
How and why did transportation developments spark In your answer, be sure to evaluate farmers’
Period 6 economic growth during the period from 1860 to 1900 in the responses to these changes.
1865-1898 United States?
How successful was organized labor in
Compare and contrast the ways that many Americans improving the position of workers in the period
expressed their opposition to immigrants in the 1840s-1850s from 1875-1900? Analyze the factors that
with the ways that many Americans expressed their contributed to the level of success achieved.
opposition to immigrants in the late 19th century.
In the post–Civil War United States,
Choose TWO of the following organizations and explain corporations grew significantly in number,
their strategies for advancing the interests of workers. To size, and influence. Analyze the impact of big
what extent were these organizations successful in achieving business on the economy and politics and the
their objectives? Confine your answer to the period from responses of Americans to these changes.
1875 to 1925 Confine your answer to the period 1870 to
Knights of Labor 1900.
American Federation of Labor
Socialist Party of America
Industrial Workers of the World
Analyze the ways in which farmers and industrial workers
responded to industrialization in the Gilded Age (1865-

Identify and analyze the key factors that changed the

American city in the second half of the nineteenth century.

Analyze the extent to which the Spanish-American War was

a turning point in American foreign policy.

Compare and contrast the foreign policies of Theodore Evaluate the effectiveness of Progressive Era
Progressivism & Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson. reformers and the federal government in
World Wars bringing about reform at the national level. In
To what extent did the role of the federal government your answer be sure to analyze the successes
Period 7 change under President Theodore Roosevelt in regard to and limitations of these efforts in the period
1890-1945 TWO of the following: 1900-1920.
Trusts For the years 1880-1925, analyze both the
Conservation tensions surrounding the issue of immigration
World affairs and the United States government’s response to
these tensions.
Analyze the effectiveness of Progressive Era reformers in
addressing problems of the late nineteenth and early Analyze the responses of Franklin D.
twentieth centuries. In your answer, focus on reform efforts Roosevelt’s administration to the problems of
in TWO of the following areas. the Great Depression. How effective were
State and federal government these responses? How did they change the role
The workplace of the federal government? Use the documents
Living conditions in the cities and your knowledge of the period 1929-1941
to construct your essay
Analyze the roles that women played in Progressive Era
reforms from the 1880s through 1920. Focus your essay on How and for what reasons did United States
TWO of the following. foreign policy change between 1920 and 1941?
Social Conditions
Labor and working conditions

Analyze ways in which the federal government sought

support on the home front for the war effort during the First
World War.

Analyze the origins and outcomes of the intense cultural

conflicts of the 1920s. In your response, focus on TWO of
the following.

Analyze the home-front experiences of TWO of the

following groups during the Second World War.
African Americans
Japanese Americans
Mexican Americans

How successful were the programs of the New Deal in

solving the problems of the Great Depression?

Analyze the extent to which the 1920s and 1950s were

similar in TWO of the following areas.
Impact of technology
Intolerant Attitudes
Literary developments
The Cold War Compare and contrast the Cold War foreign policies of Analyze developments from 1941-1949 that
& Cultural TWO of the following presidents: increased suspicion and tension between the
Changes Harry Truman (1945–1953) United States and the Soviet Union.
Dwight Eisenhower (1953–1961)
Period 8 Richard Nixon (1969–1974) What were the Cold War fears of the American
1945-1980 people in the aftermath of the Second World
Compare and contrast U.S. society in the 1920’s and the War, from 1948-1961? How successfully did the
1950’s with respect to TWO of the following: administration of President Dwight D.
race relations Eisenhower address these fears?
role of women
consumerism Analyze the international and domestic
challenges the United States faced between
Analyze the successes and failures of the United States Cold 1968 and 1974, and evaluate how President
War policy of containment during the period 1945-1975. Richard Nixon’s administration responded to
African American leaders have responded to racial
discrimination in the United States in a variety of ways. Analyze the ways in which the Vietnam War
Compare and contrast the goals and strategies of African heightened social, political, and economic
American leaders in the 1890s-1920s with the goals and tensions in the United States. Focus your
strategies of African American leaders in the 1950s-1960s. answer on the period from 1964-1975.

Analyze the effects of the Vietnam War on TWO of the

following in the United States in the period 1961-1975. In what ways did the administration of
The presidency President Lyndon B. Johnson respond to the
The population between 18 and 35 years old political, economic, and social problems of the
Cold War diplomacy United States? Assess the effectiveness of the
response. Use the documents and your
Analyze the extent to which TWO of the following knowledge of the years 1960–1970 to construct
transformed American society in the 1960’s and 1970’s. your response.
The Civil Rights movement
The antiwar movement
The women’s movement

Analyze the ways in which the events and trends of the

1970s diminished the nation’s economic power and
international influence, and challenged Americans’
confidence in both.

Compare and contrast the women’s rights movement of the

1840s-1860s with the women’s rights movement of the

How did the African American Civil Rights movement of

the 1950’s and 1960’s address the failures of
Discuss how President Reagan successfully
The Modern Explain the consequences of TWO of the following achieved nuclear arms reduction between the
Era population movements in the United States during the period years 1980-1990.
of 1945-1985.
Period 9 Suburbanization
1980-Present The growth of the Sun Belt
Immigration in the United States

Evaluate the role of TWO of the following in ending the

Cold War:
Ronald Reagan
Mikhail Gorbachev
Boris Yeltsin
George H.W. Bush

Analyze the causes of the resurgence of conservative politics

in the United States in the 1980s and 1990s.

“Landslide presidential victories do not ensure continued

political effectiveness or legislative success.” Assess the
validity of this statement by comparing TWO of the
following presidential administrations.
Franklin Roosevelt (1936)
Lyndon Johnson (1964)
Richard Nixon (1972)
Ronald Reagan (1984)

Describe the patterns of immigration in TWO periods listed

below. Compare and contrast the responses of Americans to
immigrants in these periods.
1820 to 1860
1880 to 1924
1965 to 2000

To what extent were the peacekeeping efforts of the United

States successful in TWO of the following areas during the
Bush (Sr.) and Clinton presidencies?
Middle East
Western Hemisphere

Analyze the political decisions and economic changes in the

1990s that helped to create the prosperity experienced during
the Clinton presidency.