Exam preparation materials


Chapter 2. Introduction to the AP U.S. History Exam


What Is the Advanced Placement Program?

The Advanced Placement program was begun by the College Board in 1955 to construct standard achievement exams that would allow highly motivated high school students the opportunity to be awarded advanced placement as freshmen in colleges and universities in the United States. Today, there are 35 courses and exams with well over a million students taking the annual exams in May.

There are numerous AP courses in the social studies besides United States History, including Modern European History, World History, and Government. The majority of students who take AP tests are juniors and seniors; however, some schools do offer AP courses to freshmen and sophomores.

Who Writes the AP U.S. History Exam? Who Corrects Them?

Like all AP exams, the U.S. History exam is written by college and high school instructors of U.S. history. This group is called the AP United States History Development Committee. This group constantly evaluates the test, analyzing the test as a whole and on an item-by-item basis. All questions on the AP U.S. History exam are field-tested before they actually appear on an AP exam.

A much larger group of college and secondary school teachers meet at a central location in early June to correct the exams that were completed by students the previous month. The scoring procedure of each grader during this procedure is carefully analyzed to ensure that exams are being evaluated on a fair and consistent basis.

How Are AP Exams Graded?

Sometime in July the grade you receive on your AP exam is reported. You, your high school, and the colleges you listed on your initial application will receive scores.

There are five possible scores that you may receive on your exams:

• 5 indicates that you are extremely well qualified. This is the highest- possible grade,

• 4 indicates that you are well qualified,

• 3 indicates that you are qualified,

• 2 indicates that you are possibly qualified.

• 1 indicates that you are not qualified to receive college credit.

What Are the Benefits of Taking the AP U.S. History Exam?

There are several very practical reasons for enrolling in an AP U.S. History course and taking the AP U.S. History exam in May. In the first place, during the application process colleges look very favorably upon students who have challenged themselves by taking Advanced Placement courses. Although few would recommend this, it is possible to take any AP exam without taking a preparatory course for that exam.

Most importantly, most colleges will reward you for doing well on your AP exams. Although the goal of this manual is to help you achieve a 5, if you get a 3 or better in your AP U.S. History exam, most colleges will either (a) give you actual college credit for introductory U.S. History or (b) allow you to be exempt from introductory U.S. History courses. You should definitely check beforehand with the colleges you are applying to find out their policy on AP scores and credit. They will vary.

Taking a year of AP U.S. History (or any AP) course will be a very exacting and challenging experience. If you have the capabilities, allow yourself to be challenged! Many students feel a sense of great personal satisfaction after completing an AP course, regardless of the score they eventually receive on the actual AP exam.

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