AP U.S. History in Review

Payton McClintock, Writer

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As a sophomore, taking my first Advanced Placement (AP) class was very exciting.  The potential to earn college credit as a 15-year-old was appealing and slightly overwhelming.  Going into AP U.S. History, I knew it was going to be difficult,  but I was convinced I could handle it.  Although it was one of my favorites, having now completed the class, I realize “difficult” was an understatement.

I have always enjoyed history.  I love learning about past wars and conflicts between countries as well as the cultural aspects of other countries.  That being said, I’ve never had to go into as much depth in a history class before this one. Remembering such detailed information was certainly arduous.

Also, lectures in the class could be hard to follow as they jump around quite a bit and can cover many different time periods in one discussion.  I found myself tuning out the lectures to write the notes projected on the board as quickly as possible.  Unfortunately, this did me no good as I didn’t understand the notes when studying them.  Personally, the lectures helped me much more, and I know now that I should have given more attention to what was being said than writing what was on the board.

In order to truly understand and participate in the lectures, read the book.  The textbook given for this class is extremely bland and slow; however, it is the most useful tool.  I often slacked on the reading, which became very obvious on my test grades.  By taking notes based off of the book and later adding to them in class, it made it possible to listen to the lecture in order to soak up all of the material.

There were many times throughout the class when I became extremely discouraged and overwhelmed.  My grades were never as high I wanted them to be, and I struggled to keep a decent letter grade both semesters.  Because of this, I took every possible opportunity for extra points.  If homework is assigned, it will always be easier than the test, so put your best effort into it in case you earn a low test grade.  If bathroom passes are collected as extra credit at the end of the quarter, save them, free points are worth holding it.  These points add up and can truly benefit your grade regardless of your test-taking abilities.

When starting the President’s Project, do not procrastinate.  The heavily weighted project may be time-consuming, but it is very possible to get an A if completed on time.  Do not be scared by the amount of work required. Instead, split it up, and conquer it one step at a time.

Regardless of the difficulty of this course, it definitely rates above some of my other classes.  The in-class discussions were relevant and interesting topics, and my peers were always involved in the lectures.  I never found myself falling asleep or zoning out because of the novel topics and how they were delivered.  I would most definitely recommend this class to a student who is interested in history and is willing to spend endless hours on the course.  Though it is challenging, I feel as though it is a great introduction to all AP and college-level classes.


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