Read an Excerpt
Welcome to REA’s All Access for AP U.S. History
A new, more effective way to prepare for your AP exam.
There are many different ways to prepare for an AP exam. What’s best for you depends on how much time you have to study and how comfortable you are with the subject matter. To score your highest, you need a system that can be customized to fit you: your schedule, your learning style, and your current level of knowledge.
This book, and the free online tools that come with it, will help you personalize your AP prep by testing your understanding, pinpointing your weaknesses, and delivering flashcard study materials unique to you.
Let’s get started and see how this system works.
How to Use REA’s AP All Access
The REA AP All Access system allows you to create a personalized study plan through three simple steps: targeted review of exam content, assessment of your knowledge, and focused study in the topics where you need the most help.
Review the Book: Study the topics tested on the AP exam and learn proven strategies that will help you tackle any question you may see on test day.
Test Yourself & Get Feedback: As you review the book, test yourself. Score reports from your free online tests and quizzes give you a fast way to pinpoint what you really know and what you should spend more time studying.
Improve Your Score: Armed with your score reports, you can personalize your study plan. Review the parts of the book where you are weakest, and use the REA Study Center to create your own unique e-flashcards, adding to the 100 free cards included with this book.
Finding Your Weaknesses: The REA Study Center
The best way to personalize your study plan and truly focus on your weaknesses is to get frequent feedback on what you know and what you don’t. At the online REA Study Center, you can access three types of assessment: topic-level quizzes, mini-tests, and a full-length practice test. Each of these tools provides true-to-format questions and delivers a detailed score report that follows the topics set by the College Board.
Short, 15-minute online quizzes are available throughout the review and are designed to test your immediate grasp of the topics just covered.
Two online mini-tests cover what you’ve studied in each half of the book. These tests are like the actual AP exam, only shorter, and will help you evaluate your overall understanding of the subject.
Full-Length Practice Test
After you’ve finished reviewing the book, take our full-length exam to practice under test-day conditions. Available both in this book and online, this test gives you the most complete picture of your strengths and weaknesses. We strongly recommend that you take the online version of the exam for the added benefits of timed testing, automatic scoring and a detailed score report.
Improving Your Score: e-Flashcards
Once you get your score report, you’ll be able to see exactly which topics you need to review. Use this information to create your own flashcards for the areas where you are weak. And, because you will create these flashcards through the REA Study Center, you’ll be able to access them from any computer or smartphone. Not quite sure what to put on your flashcards? Start with the 100 free cards included when you buy this book.
After the Full-Length Practice Test: Crash Course
After finishing this book and taking our full-length practice exam, pick up REA’s Crash Course for AP U.S. History. Use your most recent score reports to identify any areas where you are still weak, and turn to the Crash Course for a rapid review presented in a concise outline style.
Strategies for the Exam
What Will I See on the AP U.S. History Exam?
One May morning, you stroll confidently into the school library where you’re scheduled to take the AP U.S. History exam. You know your stuff : you paid attention in class, followed your textbook, took plenty of notes, and reviewed your coursework by reading a special test prep guide. You can identify major technological advances, explain the characteristics of different eras of history, and describe the effects of different methods of wars on broad economic and social changes. So, how will you show your knowledge on the test?
The Multiple-Choice Section
First off , you’ll complete a lengthy multiple-choice section that tests your ability to not just remember facts about the various eras of U.S. history, but also to apply that knowledge to interpret and analyze historical information. This section will require you to answer 80 multiple-choice questions in just 55 minutes. Here are the major time periods and the approximate percentages of questions found on the AP U.S. History exam relating to each period:
• Pre-Columbian to 1789 (20%)
• 1790 to 1914 (45%)
• 1915 to present (35%)
Topics and their relative percentages on the test include the following:
• Political institutions, behavior, and public policy (35%)
• Social change and cultural history (40%)
• Diplomacy and international relations (15%)
• Economic developments (10%)
So, being able to name which president led the country during the Great Depression (Franklin D. Roosevelt, but you know that, right?) will not do you much good unless you can also explain how Roosevelt’s policies shaped the role of U.S. government, the nation’s economy, the role of the United States in world affairs, and the day-to-day lives of the nation’s people. It sounds like a lot, but by working quickly and methodically you’ll have plenty of time to address this section effectively. We’ll look at this in greater depth later in this chapter.
The Free-Response Section
After time is called on the multiple-choice section, you’ll get a short break before diving in the free-response, or essay, section. This section requires you to produce three written responses in 130 minutes. Like the multiple-choice section, the free-response portion of the exam expects you to be able to apply your own knowledge to analyze historical information, in addition to being able to provide essential facts and definitions. One of these free-response questions will require you to interpret several primary source documents to create a historical argument. This is known as the document-based question, or DBQ. The other two free-response items will ask you to use your historical knowledge to build a thesis-based essay.
What’s the Score?
Although the scoring process for the AP exam may seem quite complex, it boils down to two simple components: your multiple-choice score plus your free-response scores. The multiple-choice section accounts for one-half of your overall score, and is generated by awarding one point toward your “raw score” for each question you’ve answered correctly. The free-response section also accounts for one-half of your total score. Within the free-response section, the DBQ accounts for 45 percent of your overall score, and the combined total of your two other essay makes up 55 percent of your overall score. Trained graders read students’ written responses and assign points according to grading rubrics. The number of points you accrue out of the total possible will form your score on the free-response section.
The College Board scores the AP exam on a scale of 1 to 5. Although individual colleges and universities determine what credit or advanced placement, if any, is awarded to students at each score level, these are the assessments typically associated with each numeric score:
5 Extremely well qualified
4 Well qualified
2 Possibly qualified
1 No recommendation