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How to Pass AP World History

AP World History is a challenging course that covers the history of the world from 1200 CE to the present. It requires students to analyze historical sources, compare different perspectives, and write essays that demonstrate their understanding of historical themes and developments. If you are taking AP World History, you might be wondering how to pass the course and ace the exam. Here are some tips that can help you succeed in AP World History.

Tip #1: Review the Course and Exam Description

The College Board provides a Course and Exam Description (CED) for AP World History that outlines the content and skills that are assessed on the exam. The CED also includes sample questions, scoring guidelines, and rubrics that can help you prepare for the exam. You should review the CED carefully and familiarize yourself with the course framework, the historical thinking skills, and the question types. The CED can also help you plan your study schedule and identify your strengths and weaknesses.

Tip #2: Read and Annotate the Textbook

The textbook is your primary source of information for AP World History. You should read the textbook regularly and thoroughly, and annotate it as you go. Annotating means making notes, highlighting, underlining, or marking important information in the text. This can help you improve your comprehension, retention, and recall of the material. You should also review your annotations before quizzes, tests, and the exam. Some useful annotation strategies are:

  • Summarize the main idea of each paragraph or section in the margin.

  • Identify and define key terms, concepts, and names in the text.

  • Write questions or comments that relate to the text or connect it to other topics or sources.

  • Mark evidence, examples, or details that support the main idea or argument of the text.

  • Compare and contrast different perspectives, regions, or periods in the text.

Tip #3: Practice Writing Essays

One of the most important skills for AP World History is writing essays that demonstrate your historical reasoning and analysis. The exam includes three types of essays: the Document-Based Question (DBQ), the Long Essay Question (LEQ), and the Short Answer Question (SAQ). Each type of essay has its own format, rubric, and expectations. You should practice writing essays regularly and use the CED and the scoring guidelines to evaluate your work. Some useful writing tips are:

  • Read the prompt carefully and identify the task, the time period, and the regions or themes that are relevant to the question.

  • Develop a clear and arguable thesis statement that answers the question and takes a position on the issue.

  • Use specific and relevant evidence from the text, the documents, or other sources to support your thesis and explain your reasoning.

  • Analyze the evidence and explain how it relates to the question, the thesis, and the historical context.

  • Organize your essay into clear and coherent paragraphs that have topic sentences, transitions, and conclusions.

  • Write in a formal and academic tone, using appropriate vocabulary, grammar, and punctuation.

Tip #4: Take Practice Tests

Taking practice tests is one of the best ways to prepare for the AP World History exam. Practice tests can help you assess your knowledge, skills, and progress, as well as familiarize yourself with the format, timing, and difficulty of the exam. You should take practice tests periodically throughout the course and especially before the exam. You can find practice tests in the CED, in review books, or online. You should take practice tests under realistic conditions, following the instructions, time limits, and rules of the exam. You should also review your answers and use the scoring guidelines and the feedback to identify your mistakes and areas for improvement.

Tip #5: Join a Study Group

Studying with other students can be very beneficial for AP World History. A study group can help you review the material, share notes and resources, clarify doubts, and test each other. You can also discuss and debate different topics, perspectives, and arguments, and learn from each other’s insights and opinions. A study group can also motivate you, support you, and make studying more fun and enjoyable. You should join or form a study group with students who are serious, committed, and respectful, and meet regularly and consistently. You should also have a clear agenda and goals for each meeting, and divide the work and responsibilities among the members.


AP World History is a rewarding but challenging course that requires a lot of dedication, effort, and practice. However, by following these tips, you can improve your chances of passing the course and acing the exam. Remember that AP World History is not only about memorizing facts and dates, but also about understanding and analyzing the history of the world and its connections and implications. AP World History can help you develop valuable skills and knowledge that can benefit you in your academic and personal life. Good luck and happy studying!

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