AP U.S. History: Long Essay Question (LEQ)
Breakdown of Essay:
- The AP U.S. History exam gives students a choice between two long-essay questions. You chose ONE!
- A thesis statement is required.
- You will have 35 minutes to answer the one question you select.
- Makes up 15 % of final exam score.
- Graded on a 0-6 point scale.
Different Types of LEQ Questions:
Example: Evaluate how the French and Indian War impacted the relationship between Great Britain and the British colonies from 1754-1776.
Change and Continuity Over Time: Historical thinking involves the ability to recognize, analyze, and evaluate the dynamics of historical continuity and change over periods of time of varying lengths, as well as relating these patterns to larger historical processes or themes.
Example:Evaluate the extent to which the Seven Years’ War (French and Indian War, 1754–1763) marked a turning point in American relations with Great Britain, analyzing what changed and what stayed the same from the period before the war to the period after it.
Periodization: Historical thinking involves the ability to describe, analyze, evaluate, and construct models of historical periodization that historians use to categorize events into discrete blocks and to identify turning points, recognizing that the choice of specific dates favors one narrative, region or group over another narrative, region or group; therefore, changing the periodization can change a historical narrative. Moreover, the particular circumstances and contexts in which individual historians work and write shape their interpretations and modeling of past events.
Example: Evaluate the extent to which the Mexican-American War (1846–1848) marked a turning point in the debate over slavery in the United States.
Compare and Contrast: Historical thinking involves the ability to describe, compare, and evaluate multiple historical developments within one society, one or more developments across or between different societies, and in various chronological orders.
Example: Compare and Contrast the colonies in the Chesapeake with the New England colonies. Be sure to address two of the three areas in your essay: economic, political, and social.
- Argumentation: Develops a thesis or relevant argument that addresses all parts of the question.
- Use of Evidence: Supports the thesis using specific evidence, clearly linked to the thesis.
- Targeted Historical Thinking Skill: Each question will assess an additional thinking skill, such as causation, comparison, continuity and change over time, or periodization.
- Synthesis: Written answers need to extend the argument of the essay, connect it to a different time historical context, or connect it to a different category of analysis.
Complex-Split: This approach splits the thesis into several categories, acknowledges that contrary evidence exists and tackles the complexity inherent in most APUSH essays.
Even though Jacksonian Democrats failed in their self-appointed roles as the guardiansof the United States Constitution and individual liberty, they achieved great success in strengthening political democracy and the equality of economic opportunity.
Despite a few notable lapses, in general, Jacksonian Democrats were good stewards of the United States Constitution, and oversaw an expansion of individual liberty, political democracy, and economic opportunity.
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Steps to Completing the LEQ:
- Analyze the Question
- Organize the Evidence
- Develop a Thesis
- Write the Introductory Paragraph
- Write the Supporting Paragraphs and Conclusion
- Evaluate Your Essay
- Take the time to consider what the question really asks, which is often overlooked in the rush to start writing.
- Stop and ask yourself, "What is the targeted historical thinking skill in the question? Causation? Comparison? Continuity and change over time? Periodization?"
- You might try reading over the question or prompt three times. What is the key word(s) or phrase in the question? CIRCLE it. It could be verbs such as "analyze,“ "explain" or "support," "modify," or "refute."
- All questions have one thing in common: They demand the use of historical thinking skills and analysis of the evidence.
- A long-essay answer will not receive full credit by simply reporting information. Therefore, be on your guard for questions that start out with the verbs "identify" or "describe."
- Such a question is usually followed by "analyze“ or some other more demanding thinking skill.
- Identify what you know about the question and organize your information by making a brief outline of what you know.
- Write your outline in the test booklet.
- List facts pertaining to the question to help organize your thoughts.
- Ask yourself, do I have enough evidence to support my thesis? It is obviously not very productive to select an essay or take a position that you cannot support.
- A strong thesis is necessary in every APUSH essay answer.
- Don’t be afraid of making a mistake!
- The direction for the long-essay may give clear directions on the formation of the thesis, such as "support, modify, or refute" an interpretation.
Be sure to include these three elements:
- The setting, time, and place by providing the background or historical context for the question or your thesis.
- The thesis statement.
- The “blueprint” or “controlling ideas” to the main arguments of the essay, which will be developed in the body or supporting paragraphs.
- The number and length of the supporting paragraphs forming the body of the essay should vary depending on the thesis (not necessarily 5 paragraphs!), the main points of your argument, and the amount of historical evidence.
- To receive the highest possible AP score, you must explain how specific historical evidence is linked to your thesis.
- Each essay will also have a targeted historical thinking skill, which should shape one argumentation and choice of evidence.
- More essay writing does not necessarily produce better essays.
- Breaking down the process into manageable and sequential steps is one key for improvement.
- Peer evaluation and self-evaluation both help students internalize the elements of an effective essay and learn ways to improve.
- Write essays in the third person, not 1st person ("I," "we").
- Use specific words.
- Define or explain key terms.
- Communicate awareness of the complexity of history.
- Anticipate counterarguments.
- Remain objective.
- Communicate the organization and logical development of your argument.
- Focus on the thesis in the conclusion.
Muller's Golden Rules:
- Assume your reader is an idiot... That’s right, a class A imbicile. In other words, spell things out… Don’t take it for granted that “he/she know what I mean/knows what I’m talking about.” You’ve never met the guy/gal who’s going to read & grade your essays.
- Things, a lot, & stuff… NEVER!
- Keep your eye on the ball… Are you answering what is being asked?
- Are you staying in or straying from the time scope of your question?
- Ditch “Happily Ever Aftersims.”To wit, “…and if the pilgrims had never landed here, we could not have become the great, freedom-loving nation that we are today.”
- Keep conclusions narrow.Just like the frame of study. You don’t have to go from the beginning of time to the year 5000 in six paragraphs.
- It’s cool to be P.C. Use “Native Americans” instead of “Indians,” and “African-Americans” instead of “Black.”
- Tenses: Don’t shift them!!!This is the PASTthat you are writing about.
- Never write conversationally!!! Don’t write like you talk, and don’t talk to the reader; NO FIRST PERSON. NO RHETORICAL QUESTIONS.
- Spelling & Capitalization, Spelling & Capitalization, Spelling & Capitalization!!
- Along the lines of #9. Stay crisp and professional. Don’t beat around the bush. Write as an expert in the field.
- Watch out for repetitions… avoid tendencies in word or phrase usage & sentence structure.
- Stream of Conciousness… unless you’re William Faulkner, don’t just ramble on. Have a specific mental picture, an intellectual starting point & destination for your work.
- Direct is nice, but jumping right in is not. Give the reader a thesis first—tell the reader what it is you’re going to prove/disprove, advocate/reject, agree with/disagree with, etc…
- Don’t leave hanging points! JUSTIFY your conclusions. Express facts rather than imply them. In other words, demonstrate to me why I should believe you/your conclusions.
- Responses should be free-standing: I should be able to read your work and right away know what the question must have been, even if I never say it.
- No cuteness—leave humor and funnies to the Daily Show, Colbert & Letterman. Always display your scholarship, not your wittiness…
- Identify your pronouns, and use “Them” sparingly… It’s pretty easy to confuse the daylights out of the reader in no time at all if he/she has to struggle to figure out who “them” is/are/could be…
- “LUMPING” is as vague as it is inaccurate. Be cautious about placing too much unity into the thoughts & actions of the many, i.e. “The colonists felt… The Indians hated… The Europeans wanted…” Could there be subsets within the groups? Specifically, which groups or sorts of the aforementioned felt, hated or wanted?It’s like saying, “All teens are…”
- Along the lines of #8. Don’t inject yourself into history by using “WE” when you really mean, “Americans who have been dead for a long time.” WE didn’t evict the Cherokees from Georgia, win World War I, give women the right to vote, build the railroads, land on the moon, etc; THEY/ the U.S. did!
Mistakes to Avoid:
- Try to fill up a specific number of pages but, instead write an insightful, persuasive and well-supported essay.
- List a few generalities or a "laundry list" of facts.
- Write in the narrative style by telling “stories,” but rather your goal should be to write analytically and support your argument with specific knowledge.
- Use fillers and flowery language in an attempt to impress the reader. Write a a concise, coherent essay in which every word has a purpose.Don’t waste time!
Decode Essay Questions:
APPLY: extend a concept or principle to a new situation
COMPARE: identify similarities between two concepts
CONTRAST: distinguish important differences. between two concepts
CRITICIZE: judge the positive and negative features of a concept
DEFINE: offer the essential idea behind a concept
DESCRIBE: provide sufficient details to establish key ideas in a concept develop a new strategy to accomplish a goal
DESIGN: develop a new strategy to accomplish a goal
EXPLAIN: clarify the meaning of a concept through detail or example
EVALUATE: make a well-reasoned judgment about value or worth
GENERALIZE: apply a principle to make predictions about a new problem
HYPOTHESIZE: develop a specific prediction about a complex situation
IDENTIFY: designate the key elements involved
ILLUSTRATE: provide examples or details to clarify
INTERPRET: offer your distinctive point of view about concept's meaning
LIST: identify factors in a systematic or comprehensive manner
PREDICT: offer your best guess about an outcome
PROVE: create your best argument using examples or reasoning
RECOMMEND: put forward" a preferred course of action with a rationale
RELATE: draw connections among ideas
REVIEW: discuss the most important aspects of the concept
SUMMARIZE: briefly identify the most critical ideas
|Long Essay Information Packet|
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|Long Essay Assignment: Periods 1-3|
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|Chapter 14 Thesis Writing|
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|Chapter 14.2 Thesis Writing|
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|Chapter 15 Thesis Writing|
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|Chapter 20 Thesis Writing|
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|Progressive Era Thesis Writing|
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|Industrialization Thesis Writing|
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Exam Questions and Scoring Information
For free-response questions from prior exams, along with scoring information, check out the tables below. Please note that these questions do not reflect the format of the 2018 exam, as they date from the 2015 to 2017 exam administrations. Similar resources for the 2018 exam will be available after the exam administration in May 2018.
Past exam questions from the May 2014 administrations and before are also available. Note that these questions do not reflect the content, scope, or design specifications of the initial redesigned AP U.S. History Exam.
Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. In this invaluable resource, the Chief Reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the reading leadership to describe how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year.