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                A.P. World History

This course is driven by information found on the following website:

Course Description     The AP World History course utilizes an approach that enables students to successfully manage the breadth of world history while engaging deeply with the subject matter. As the course and exam description explains, the current World History course focuses on "six chronological periods, viewed through the lens of related key concepts and course themes, and accompanied by a set of skills that clearly describe what it means to think historically. The three to four key concepts per period define the essential content based on the most current historical research in world history. This approach can help students learn essential concepts in depth and develop the historical thinking skills necessary to explore broad trends and global processes.

      Students Must Master the Five Themes____ 
     1.   Interaction Between Humans and the Environment
            .  Demography and disease
               .  Migration
               .  Patterns of settlement
               .  Technology

The interaction between humans and the environment is a fundamental theme for world history. The environment shaped human societies, but increasingly human societies also affected the environment. During prehistory, humans interacted with the environment as hunters, fishers and foragers, and human migrations led to the peopling of the earth. As the Neolithic revolution began, humans exploited their environments more intensively, either as farmers or pastoralists. Environmental factors such as rainfall patterns, climate, and available flora and fauna shaped the methods of exploitation used in different regions.  Human exploitation of the environment intensified as populations grew and as people migrated into new regions. As people flocked into cities or established trade networks, new diseases emerged and spread, sometimes devastating an entire region. During the Industrial Revolution, environmental exploitation increased exponentially. In recent centuries, human effects on the environment — and the ability to master and exploit it — increased with the development of more sophisticated technologies, the exploitation of new energy sources and a rapid increase in human populations. By the 20th century, large numbers of humans had begun to recognize their effect on the environment and took steps toward a “green” movement to protect and work with the natural world instead of exploiting it.

      2. Development and Interaction of Cultures                                                                                  
                .  Religions
                .  Belief systems, philosophies and ideologies
                .  Science and technology
                .  The arts and architecture

This theme explores the origins, uses, dissemination and adaptation of ideas, beliefs, and knowledge within and between societies. Studying the dominant belief system(s) or religions, philosophical interests, and technical and artistic approaches can reveal how major groups in society view themselves and others, and how they respond to multiple challenges. When people of different societies interact, they often share components of their cultures, deliberately or not. The processes of adopting or adapting new belief and knowledge systems are complex and often lead to historically novel cultural blends. A society’s culture may be investigated and compared with other societies’ cultures as a way to reveal both what is unique to a culture and what it shares with other cultures. It is also possible to analyze and trace particular cultural trends or ideas across human societies.

        3. State-Building, Expansion and Conflict
                  • Political structures and forms of governance
                  • Empires
                  • Nations and nationalism
                  • Revolts and revolutions
                  • Regional, trans-regional, and global structures and organizations

This theme refers to the processes by which hierarchical systems of rule have been constructed and maintained and to the conflicts generated through those processes.  In particular, this theme encourages the comparative study of different state forms (for example, kingdoms, empires, nation-states) across time and space, and the interactions among them. Continuity and change are also embedded in this theme through attention to the organizational and cultural foundations of long-term stability, on one hand, and to internal and external causes of conflict on the other. Students should examine and compare various forms of state development and expansion in the context of various productive strategies (for example, agrarian, pastoral, mercantile), various cultural and ideological foundations (for example, religions, philosophies, ideas of nationalism), various social and gender structures, and in different environmental contexts. This theme also discusses different types of states, such as autocracies and constitutional democracies.  Finally, this theme encourages students to explore interstate relations, including warfare, diplomacy, commercial and cultural exchange, and the formation of international organizations.

      4. Creation, Expansion and Interaction of Economic Systems
                • Agricultural and pastoral production
                • Trade and commerce
                • Labor systems
                • Industrialization
                • Capitalism and socialism

This theme surveys the diverse patterns and systems that human societies have developed as they exploit their environments to produce, distribute and consume desired goods and services across time and space. It stresses major transitions in human economic activity, such as the growth and spread of agricultural, pastoral and industrial production; the development of various labor systems associated with these economic systems (including different forms of household management and the use of coerced or free labor); and the ideologies, values and institutions (such as capitalism and socialism) that sustained them. This theme also calls attention to patterns of trade and commerce between various societies, with particular attention to the relationship between regional and global networks of communication and exchange, and their effects on economic growth and decline. These webs of interaction strongly influence cultural and technological diffusion, migration, state formation, social classes and human interaction with the environment.

    5.  Development and Transformation of Social Structures
             • Gender roles and relations
             • Family and kinship
             • Racial and ethnic constructions
             • Social and economic classes

This theme is about relations among human beings. All human societies develop ways of grouping their members as well as norms that govern interactions between individuals and social groups. Social stratification comprises distinctions based on kinship systems, ethnic associations and hierarchies of gender, race, wealth and class. The study of world history requires analysis of the processes through which social categories, roles and practices were created, maintained and transformed. It also involves analysis of the connections between changes in social structures and other historical shifts, especially trends in political economy, cultural expression and human ecology.

       THE EXAM  

Section I: 

Part A - Multiple Choice — 55 Questions | 55 Minutes    40% of Exam Score

  • Questions appear in sets of 2 to 5.
  • Students analyze historical texts, interpretations, and evidence.
  • Primary and secondary sources, images, graphs, and maps are included.

Part B - Short Answer — 3 Questions | 40 Minutes 
   20% of Exam Score

  • Analyze historians' interpretations, historical sources, and propositions about history.
  • Questions provide opportunities for students to explain the historical examples that they know best.
  • Some questions include texts, images, graphs, or maps.
  • Update for 2017-18: The number of required short-answer questions has been reduced to three, and the time allotted has been decreased to 40 minutes. Students will choose between two options for the final required short-answer question, each one focusing on a different time period.
    • Question 1 (required): periods 3-6
    • Question 2 (required): periods 3-6
    • Students choose between Question 3, periods 1-3, and Question 4, periods 4-6

Section II: 

Part A - Document Based — 1 Question 
   60 Minutes (includes 15-minute reading period)
   25% of Exam Score
  • Assess written, quantitative, or visual materials as historical evidence.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • Update for 2017-18: Five minutes have been added to the time allotted for the document-based question, which will now focus on topics from periods 3-6.

Part B -
Long Essay — 1 Question | 40 Minutes 
    15% of Exam Score
  • Explain and analyze significant issues in world history.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • Updates for 2017-18: Five minutes have been added to the time allotted for the long essay. The question choices will continue to focus on the same theme and skill but will now allow students to select among three options, each focusing on a different range of time periods:
    • Option 1: periods 1-2
    • Option 2: periods 3-4
    • Option 3: periods 5--6


How is the exam scored?
Total scores on the multiple-choice section are now based on the number of questions answered correctly. No points are given for incorrect answers or unanswered questions. The written response section will be addressed later.

What topics does the exam test?
The course and exam description explains the key concepts and themes of the course in detail, and all key concepts and themes are required knowledge for the exam. Because the purpose of the exam's document-based essay question is to test skills, the topic of that question may be outside the scope of the curriculum framework. However, both the continuity and change-over-time essay and the comparative essay require students to demonstrate prior knowledge of a subject, and the topics of these essays draw directly from the curriculum framework.

Does the exam test the illustrative examples used in the curriculum framework?
No. To answer multiple-choice questions correctly, students do not have to recall specific illustrative examples. However, an illustrative example may appear on the exam if it includes sufficient information to enable students to answer the question. In both the continuity and change-over-time essay and the comparative essay, students are expected to provide appropriate historical evidence to support arguments. Students can draw upon the illustrative examples or any other appropriate, relevant examples to answer the questions.

Does the exam assess the historical thinking skills?
Yes. The historical thinking skills provide an essential structure for learning to think about history. The course and exam description clearly defines each skill, along with the desired skill proficiency. The exam assesses all historical thinking skills.

Has the format of the exam changed?  
Yes.  The exam in 2018 is newly designed. 


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