Every year, almost 300,000 students nationwide challenge themselves in Advanced Placement United States History, and make no mistake about it, APUSH is truly a challenge for students.
Perhaps the number one reason Advanced Placement courses are so challenging is a matter of expectations. Many students taking AP courses for the first time assume that they are no different than honors-level classes, but that is not the case. APUSH is a step up from Honors World History, one you must make consciously and actively. The first few weeks of class will be a difficult transition as you work to determine what is expected of you.
Like all AP classes, APUSH is a hybrid course, incorporating the atmosphere, expectations, and workload of a college course in the high school classroom. Students who take the course and pass the AP Exam in the spring have the opportunity to earn college credit. While the AP Exam is not required, it is highly recommended, and a large number of students take advantage of this opportunity every year. Though not every student takes the AP Exam, APUSH is structured around the Advanced Placement curriculum for all students who enroll.
Because APUSH is a college-level course, expectations and standards are higher. This does not mean that APUSH is exactly like the college history course your parents or siblings might remember. Indeed, the workload can at times be much heavier. For the most part students can expect our coverage of American History to go into greater depth and breadth than in other courses; at times we will even get into historiography—the history of the history. Students will also find that writing and assessment in APUSH can be intense—expect essays and papers!
Finally students can expect to work hard for good grades. APUSH will be what students make it. AP curriculum and AP teachers are only part of the equation; Honors and AP classes thrive on the curiosity, passion and drive of the students who enroll. Everyone is welcome to enroll, but we do ask that you make the APUSH choice from an informed point of view. Read the expectations below carefully, and take the Summer Assignment seriously. Other than rumors and urban legends, they are the only real source of information you have to determine if APUSH will be the right course for you.
Remember--you are choosing to take APUSH. For the majority of students, regular US History is the appropriate course to take to meet your graduation requirement. If you do not feel that you are ready for APUSH or you do not wish to take the Summer Assignment seriously, then speak to your counselor now and make the switch.
No summer assignments in 2020
The Summer Assignment is essential to APUSH for two reasons:
- It provides you with a legitimate idea of what to expect in terms of content and workload in an APUSH unit.
- It allows us to get an early start on the content, which is essential given the pace we must maintain for the AP schedule.
Both parts of the Summer Assignment will be collected during the first week of school. They will also serve as the basis of our discussions for the first two weeks of the semester, and you will be tested on the material within that time frame.
Skills & Habits of Successful APUSH Students
Below are the skills and habits that students will need to succeed in APUSH. Further developing these skills and habits is a goal of the APUSH class, but it is expected that you have already made significant progress in these areas. If you find yourself—or your student—deficient in any one of these areas, you might want to reconsider placement in APUSH. And as with any situation, students lacking in certain areas but willing to work and improve will find a most supportive teacher, but students unable and more importantly unwilling to work and improve will be actively encouraged to find another placement.
- Attendance: Regular attendance is an absolute necessity, as class discussions and lectures will cover material not easily found elsewhere. Absences for school-related activities is expected among advanced students, but it is the responsibility of the student, not the teacher, to make arrangements for work to be turned in and notes to be obtained. Students with major commitments that will require extensive, prolonged absences should rethink their enrollment in APUSH.
- Participation: A successful class depends on student participation to bring in diverse ideas, interpretations and questions. Additionally, a student’s individual grade will depend in part on his/her personal participation. Contributions need not be earth-shattering, but they must be regular and substantive.
- Homework: Students should expect to have homework on a daily basis. It is understood that students learn in many different ways, and a variety of assignments will be incorporated into the course. However, students considering enrolling should understand that APUSH is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Exams: Tests in APUSH are quite rigorous, consisting of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions. Exams will assess students’ factual and analytical mastery of the material. Every unit will end with an exam, usually one every two weeks, and these exams will be reflective of the AP Exam students may take in the spring.
- Reading: Students must be able to read quickly and with understanding both primary sources and analytical, secondary sources. Students should be able to read for the main idea while culling appropriate factual information. A textbook will serve as the main reading, but it will be supplemented regularly with mandatory outside readings. Students can expect to regularly read 70 pages of textbook material a week as well as primary sources and supplementary readings.
- Note-taking: Students should be prepared to take notes on everything! Only a slight exaggeration, notes on readings and lectures are a necessity, and they will also serve as assignments throughout the course. The fast pace of APUSH and the complexity of the material make it absolutely essential that students utilize a method for organizing the large quantity of content that must be mastered in APUSH.
- Writing: APUSH builds on the analytical skills developed in Honors World History. Students will be expected to effectively communicate their ideas in writing. Formal papers, take-home essays, and timed essays will all be utilized. Papers will be assessed based on factual content, analytical depth and breadth, as well as the categories of the Six-Trait Writing Rubric. Most students will find writing the most challenging portion of the course, as everything will be assessed at a higher level.
Personal Academic & Intellectual Responsibility: The Essential APUSH Quality
NO electronic devices in use during class. Unless teacher provides permission.
APUSH is not specifically required for graduation. Students who take APUSH are doing so because they seek the challenge and take on the responsibility. They understand that much is to be gained if much effort and energy is expended. APUSH students and parents understand that the upcoming year will be filled with challenges, crises, controversies, but most importantly great reward. They also understand that success will require a great deal of personal responsibility and initiative. Students will be provided with many tools and opportunities to succeed, but they must choose to take advantage of them. As such, the final and most important expectation of APUSH:
- Unassigned Work: Students are responsible for their own intellectual and academic development. While the assignments and projects in APUSH are designed to assist in that development, a great deal of the most important tasks will never be assigned for points. Students will rarely, if ever, be assigned chapter notes, unit vocabulary or online quizzes, but all of these tools will be available to students. It will be up to each individual to determine the study habits that will lead to success in APUSH and utilize them to achieve the desired results on quizzes, tests, semester grades and the AP Exam.