From my own experience, Advanced Placement US History is one of the toughest AP classes a high school student can take. Not only is the time period surveyed in AP US History broad, but the class also delves relatively deep into the different historical periods. It’s not like AP World History, where the breadth of content covered is so vast that the test-makers cannot possibly expect you to know every single fact about the Sumerian Empire; the time slot covered in AP US History usually runs from about the 1400s to 1980, with a little look at European and African development. If you’re a history buff, however, this intense course would be perfect for you.
When considering taking this course, I would first recommend talking to the teacher who teaches AP US History. He or she would be able to give you the best advice as to whether or not you should take APUSH, as it is abbreviated by many who take the class. They’ll also tell you what to expect as far as workload and what the workload consists of. With that said, success on the AP US History exam can be achieved by practicing certain habits to drill all those dates, names, and facts into your head.
First, it helps to look over the history being studied the summer before you take the class. The AP US History teacher should have a book or outline that lays out in a concise matter the important information in American History. Giving you a head-start on the learning, these study guides or summaries allow you to develop a general idea of most of the topics to be covered. Consequently, it will be easier to absorb information that expands on what you already know.
Another way to make all the facts in AP US History stay in your head is to write summaries yourself. Yeah, the books you read over the summer already did that; so why write your own ones? Summarizing the main ideas contained in a chapter of the main text book is a great way to reinforce what you’re discussing in class. While they are many different concepts and time periods covered by APUSH, summarizing those concepts will help you straighten them out and mentally organize them.
The last method one can use to succeed in the challenging AP US History class is review. While this may seem obvious, not reviewing is a huge pitfall. Are you one-hundred percent positive you could remember what you learned about the Salem Witch Trials in September when asked about it 8 months later? The best part about this step is that the previous two laid the foundation for it. With your study guides in one hand and your chapter summaries in another, all you need is to put in some hard study time(which pays off, trust me) and the butterflies in your stomach will go away in May when you open the AP US History and exam and think to yourself, “Man, I guess it isn’t so bad.”