AP US History


It is exciting to hear that you are considering joining the APUSH Forum! Every year, almost 300,000 students nationwide challenge themselves in Advanced Placement United States History, and make no mistake about it, APUSH is truly a challenge for students.

Perhaps the number one reason Advanced Placement courses are so challenging is a matter of expectations. Many students taking AP courses for the first time assume that they are no different than honors-level classes, but that is not the case. APUSH is a step up from Honors World or US History, a step you must make consciously and actively. The first few weeks of class will be a difficult transition as you work to determine what is expected of you.

Like all AP classes, APUSH is a hybrid course, incorporating the atmosphere, expectations, and workload of a college course in the high school classroom. Students who take the course and pass the AP Exam in the spring have the opportunity to earn college credit. While the AP Exam is not required, it is highly recommended, and a large number of students take advantage of this opportunity every year. Though not every student takes the AP Exam, APUSH is structured around the Advanced Placement curriculum for all students who enroll.

Because APUSH is a college-level course, expectations and standards are higher. This does not mean that APUSH is exactly like the college history course your parents or siblings might remember. Indeed, the workload can at times be much heavier. For the most part students can expect our coverage of American History to go into greater depth and breadth than in other courses; at times we will even get into historiography—the history of the history. Students will also find that writing and assessment in APUSH can be intense—expect essays and papers!

Finally students can expect to work hard for good grades. The bar is, indeed, raised. You will be graded according to the College Board's rubric, one that has been established and justified by college professors and academics throughout the country. With that understood, grading will be viewed as a means of growth. You may be shocked to view a C or even a D on a paper, but the idea is that you grow from it and as long as you work hard, and dedicate the needed time your grads will improve. I am NOT here to fail you, but only to make you better.

All of that said, APUSH will be what students make it. AP curriculum and AP teachers are only part of the equation; Honors and AP classes thrive on the curiosity, passion and drive of the students who enroll. Everyone is welcome to enroll, but we do ask that you make the APUSH choice from an informed point of view. Read the expectations below carefully, and take the Summer Assignment seriously. Other than rumors and urban legends, they are the only real source of information you have to determine if APUSH will be the right course for you.

Remember--you are choosing to take APUSH. For the majority of PAHS students, regular US History is the appropriate course to take to meet your graduation requirement. If you do not feel that you are ready for APUSH or you do not wish to take the Summer Assignment seriously, then speak to your counselor now and make the switch.

Otherwise, I look forward to working with you in the Fall.

Summer Assignment

The Summer Assignment is essential to APUSH for two reasons (PLEASE SEE TAB ABOVE):

  1. It provides you with a legitimate idea of what to expect in terms of content and workload in an APUSH unit/time period.
  2. It allows us to get an early start on the content which is essential given the pace we must maintain for the AP schedule.

Both parts of the Summer Assignment will be collected during the first week of school. They will also serve as the basis of our discussions for the first two weeks of the semester, and you will be tested on the material within that time frame.

Skills & Habits of Successful APUSH Students

Below are the skills and habits that students will need to succeed in APUSH. Further developing these skills and habits is a goal of the APUSH class, but it is expected that you have already made significant progress in these areas. If you find yourself—or your student—deficient in any one of these areas, you might want to reconsider placement in APUSH.

  • Attendance: Regular attendance is an absolute necessity, as class discussions and lectures will cover material not easily found elsewhere. Absences for school-related activities is expected among advanced students, but it is the responsibility of the student, not the teacher, to make arrangements for work to be turned in and notes to be obtained. Students with major commitments that will require extensive, prolonged absences should rethink their enrollment in APUSH.
  • Participation: A successful class depends on student participation to bring in diverse ideas, interpretations and questions. Additionally, a student’s individual grade will depend in part on his/her personal participation. Contributions need not be earth-shattering, but they must be regular and substantive.
  • Homework: Students should expect to have homework on a weekly basis. It is understood that students learn in many different ways, and a variety of assignments will be incorporated into the course. Weekly assignments will resemble the summer assignment, along with other readings and skills based assessments along the way. TIME MANAGEMENT IS CRITICAL! Every unit will end with an exam, usually one every two weeks, and these exams will be reflective of the AP Exam students may take in the spring.
  • Reading: Students must be able to read quickly and with understanding both primary sources and analytical, secondary sources. Students should be able to read for the main idea while reflecting on appropriate factual information. A textbook will serve as the main reading, but it will be supplemented regularly with mandatory outside readings.
  • Note-taking: Your summer assignment is an indication of what will be covered in class. You will be provided with class notes, so that we can cover the material in an efficient manner. Your responsiblity is to pay attention, ask questions and mark your notes accordingly. Not all material in the weekly assignments is covered, but may be cited or referenced, so completion of and understanding of is essential.
  • Writing: Students will be expected to effectively communicate their ideas in writing. Formal papers, take-home essays, and timed essays will all be utilized. Papers will be assessed based on factual content, analytical depth and breadth, as well as the categories of the Six-Trait Writing Rubric. Most students will find writing the most challenging portion of the course, as everything will be assessed at a higher level.