The AP Program offers three history courses: AP European History, AP United States History, and AP World History. All three history courses focus on the development of historical thinking while learning required course content. Themes foster deep analysis by making connections and comparisons across different topics within the course. Each AP History course corresponds to two semesters of a typical introductory college history course.
AP United States History focuses on developing students’ abilities to think conceptually about U.S. history from approximately 1491 to the present and apply historical thinking skills as they learn about the past. Seven themes of equal importance — identity; peopling; politics and power; work, exchange, and technology; America in the world; environment and geography; and ideas, beliefs, and culture — provide areas of historical inquiry for investigation throughout the course. These require students to reason historically about continuity and change over time and make comparisons among various historical developments in different times and places.
The historical thinking skills provide opportunities for students to learn to think like historians, most notably to analyze evidence about the past and to create persuasive historical arguments. Focusing on these practices enables teachers to create learning opportunities for students that emphasize the conceptual and interpretive nature of history. Skill types and examples for each are listed below.
I. Chronological Reasoning
- Compare causes and/or effects, including between short-term and long-term effects
- Analyze and evaluate historical patterns of continuity and change over time
- Connect patterns of continuity and change over time to larger historical processes or themes
- Analyze and evaluate competing models of periodization of American history
II.Comparison and Contextualization
- Compare related historical developments and processes across place, time, and/or different societies, or within one society
- Explain and evaluate multiple and differing perspectives on a given historical phenomenon
- Explain and evaluate ways in which specific historical phenomena, events, or processes connect to broader regional,national, or global processes occurring at the same time
III.Crafting Historical Arguments from Historical Evidence
- Analyze commonly accepted historical arguments and explain how an argument has been constructed from historicalevidence
- Construct convincing interpretations through analysis of disparate, relevant historical evidence
- Evaluate and synthesize conflicting historical evidence to construct persuasive historical arguments
- Analyze features of historical evidence such as audience, purpose, point of view, format, argument, limitations, andcontext germane to the evidence considered
- Based on analysis and evaluation of historical evidence, make supportable inferences and draw appropriate conclusions
IV.Historical Interpretation and Synthesis
- Draw appropriately on ideas and methods from different fieldsof inquiry or disciplines
- Analyze diverse historical interpretations
- Apply insights about the past to other historical contexts or circumstances, including the present
- Evaluate how historians’ perspectives influence their interpretations and how models of historical interpretationchange over time