Are you super stressed about your AP US History exam?
Not sure what the first step to take is when tackling your FRQs?
Then you're going to want to watch this video, because in it, we're going to give you a five-step
strategy that you can start using to write effective AP US History FRQs.
We've helped millions of students score fours and fives on their AP exams.
Be sure to watch until the end of this video because we're going to give you three additional
resources that you can use to start jump-starting your AP US History exam prep.
Are you ready?
Let's get started.
The first step when it comes to tackling the AP US History FRQ is to master the SAQ, DBQ,
and LEQ rubrics.
Students make the mistake of not knowing how they're going to be graded on their exams,
so they head into testing, not understanding how they're going to earn points.
As you can see on the screen here, what we've done is we've gone ahead and pulled up the
SAQ scoring guidelines for the 2019 exam for question number one.
You can see here that the question is worth three points and so knowing exactly what is
going to give you each of these three points is clearly vital for your AP US History exam.
For example, in this instance for students to have scored points in terms of showing
the differences between the two sources and historical interpretations, students had to
mention both sources in their response.
As you start to familiarize yourself with the differences between the rubrics, you'll
start to notice common directive words that the College Board uses, but we'll go more
into that later.
For now, just look at the last two to three years worth of free response questions for
the short answer questions, document based questions and then the long essay questions.
Now it's heading to step number two.
The second step when it comes to writing effective AP US History FRQs is to make sure that you
circle or underline any key word in the question itself.
You will often be asked to do things such as describing and explaining.
When it comes to the SAQ section.
As you can see here on the screen with the 2019 exam.
Students will often be asked to do so in response to a particular stimuli that the College Board
has given them.
When it comes to the DBQs and the LEQs, you're going to be asked three different types of
Those are: to compare, to evaluate change and continuity over time, and to explore causation.
These types of questions are often phrased with the directive words of evaluate the extent
of...it's easy to circle and underline these words, but you better understand exactly what
the test maker is asking you.
Let's talk about what describe and explain means in the context of short answer questions.
When the exam asks you to describe something, this is where you just have to answer the
question head on.
There is no need to show the why or provide more than describing the characteristics of
the topic or concept that's being tested.
When you're asked to explain something, this is where you'll have to show the why.
You'll typically need to give three to five sentences here as well as an example, in order
to earn points.
After you've identified the key directive words of what's being asked of you, be sure
to address that and then move on.
Sometimes students fall into the trap of giving everything that they know towards something
when they actually were just asked to describe something and they should have moved on a
long time ago.
This is valuable test taking time for your APUSH exam that you cannot make the mistake
So how do you avoid this problem?
One of the easiest test taking tips we can give you is to leave a star or a tick mark
next to each directive word as you respond to the question.
This will serve as a check system for you to make sure that you've answered every part
of the question and that you're moving and pacing properly throughout the exam.
Aside from describing and explaining, there are four other commonly used directive words
on the APUSH exam.
They include to compare, evaluate, identify, and support an argument.
If you're asked to compare something, this is where you're going to want to talk about
similarities and or differences.
If you're asked to evaluate something, this is where you're going to want to determine
the importance of something or the quality or accuracy of the claim that's being made.
If you're being asked to identify something, this is where you're just going to give information
about what you know on the specific topic without elaboration or explanation.
It's very similar to describe and then when you're asked to support an argument, this
is where you're going to want to give specific examples and explain how they support a thesis.
So that's it for two steps.
Before we head into step number three, be sure to like and subscribe to our channel
so you can get more helpful tips for AP US History because in our follow on video, we're
going to go over a ton of APUSH FRQ writing tips that you're going to want to check out
and use for your exam.
The third step when it comes to running effective AP US History FRQs is to make sure that you
plan out your response before you start writing.
The College Board gives this advice to students every single year and only some students take
Students rush into giving a response because they're stressed on test day that they don't
actually take a second to plan out what they're going to write.
As a result, their arguments aren't as coherent as they could be.
So how do you plan out your response?
Well, what we recommend is to first read the question and understand the directive word
that's being asked of you.
Then reread the question and try to word the question in your own words.
This will help you with your comprehension of the question being asked of you.
After you've understood the question, start to craft your thesis statement.
The easiest way to do so is either by using although A, XYZ, therefore Y formula or to
make sure that you make a statement that also has the because or therefore word incorporated
with an argument following it.
The easiest way to ask yourself whether or not your thesis is defensible is whether or
not it can be agreed or disagreed with.
Finally bringing your supporting evidence to support your thesis.
Make sure you have enough supporting evidence to support your thesis and earn the different
points that are allocated in the rubric.
By following this three-step process of identifying the question and what it's asking you, crafting
a thesis and then bringing in your supporting evidence.
You will have a very clear strategy when it comes to test day on AP US History.
This will allow you to craft your response and plan for it before you put your pencil
down and formally start writing your response.
Ultimately what this will show in your response is a more coherent response that helps connect
the dots of what the prompt is asking you and what you learned in class, which is ultimately
the key of what the College Board is assessing you on when it comes to the AP US History
free response section.
All right, so that's three tips.
Let's go ahead and jump into step number four.
The fourth step is to remember that DBQs and LEQ are aimed to assess you on four respective
skills: the formation of a thesis, contextualization, sourcing, and then complexity.
And then when it comes to the SAQs, you do not need to write a full on essay response.
You simply need to respond to the question that's being asked of you.
So what does this mean?
Well, for the SAQ, this means that you can ignore having an introduction, conclusion
or a thesis in your response and then for the DBQ and SAQ it means that there is a clear
seven and six-point respective rubric that you can follow to do well on the exam.
For the DBQ, here are the components that you're going to need.
The first one is a clear defensible thesis that has a clear line of reasoning.
It needs to address the prompt and have this clear line of reasoning.
It cannot just address the prompt but not have a stance.
The second component is to make sure that you have contextualized your response in the
broader lens of history.
What happened in the fifty to a hundred years prior to the time period that's being asked
From here, you're going to want to make sure that you're supporting your claim or thesis
with accurate and historically relevant evidence.
One point here is given for using at least three documents.
The second point is earned when you use at least six documents and tie it back to your
thesis to advance your argument and another point is earned by bringing in relevant historical
evidence that you know from beyond the resources of what's being given to you in the documents.
For analysis, students need to source from at least three documents and discuss things
such as author's point of view, purpose, audience or historical situation.
The second part of analysis is to also make sure that you understand and can bring in
complexity into your response.
This is bringing in connections to broader periods of history and also through demonstrating
specific nuances to the historical reasoning skills that you're being assessed on.
For the LEQ, much of the rubric is the same except for the point on citing additional
outside evidence since that's obviously the entire point of a long essay question.
That being said, as you can see from these two rubrics, in order to do well, you need
to demonstrate those key historical skills such as forming a defensible thesis, introducing
complexity, having contextualization well as understanding the sourcing of documents.
As you work your way through this mental checklist of whether or not you've demonstrated these
Remember to close the loop.
The College Board refers to this as always being able to show the why in your response,
and this is typically cued in with words such as because or therefore, if you've done an
adequate job of using your evidence and using it to advance your argument, you will notice
that you are consistently closing the loop.
So keep that in mind and make sure that you are showing the why to your reader.
That leads us to our fifth and final tip when it comes to running effective AP US History
FRQs, which is to practice, practice, and then practice some more.
It's one thing to understand what the rubrics are.
It's another thing to actually be able to write effective responses that meet these
So make sure that you've spent your time learning the rubrics and then practicing your responses.
We recommend pairing up with a friend and having a study buddy so that you can write
your responses, grade each other's work and then see how another student interpreted the
question that you answered.
This will help you build your familiarity with the rubric while also making sure that
you get the adequate practice that you need to excel on your AP exam.
All right, so three additional resources to help you out as we promised at the beginning
of this video.
The first one is the College Board's AP Central for past released exams scoring guidelines
as well as Chief Reader reports.
You'll want to check this out so that you can see sample responses of how other students
answered particular questions and also to get the actual closest thing to the real exam
since they are going to be past released exams.
The second resource is Albert's AP US History review guide.
This is a free review guide on our blog that you can access to pace yourself in your studying
and make sure that you're making the most of your limited study time.
And the final resources is Albert's AP US History review course.
This has hundreds of practice questions as well as detailed explanations and full length
practice exams and original full FRQ to help you give you additional practice in addition
to AP Central in case you exhaust those resources.
Lastly, if you found this video helpful, leave a comment for us below as to what you found
most helpful and then be sure to like and subscribe to our channel because in our follow
on video, we're going to go over a ton of FRQ tips that you can use in your AP US History
exam specific to the SAQ, DBQ, as well as LEQ.
That's it for this time though.
We'll see you next time.