Answering APUSH Essay Questions

					ANSWERING APUSH ESSAY
QUESTIONS
       How to write the answer they’re looking for!
UNDERSTAND the question
 Many essay questions ask you to write about A
 SPECIFIC TIME PERIOD. Make sure you look for this
 kind of information in the prompt (i.e., “in the 16th
 century,” “during the Great Depression,” etc.) – and
 confine your answer to the period they’re asking about.
 (You may give limited background information, but don’t spend
 too much time on it.)
 Most questions give you some OTHER PARAMETERS
 regarding the subject. Most often, these distinguish
 whether you should write about political, social, or
 economic history. Be sure you confine your answer to
 talk address only the aspect(s) they’ve asked about.
Know your VERB
IF THE QUESTION ASKS YOU TO…
 Analyze/discuss – You MUST talk about the “how”
  and “why” things occurred, not just describe what
  happened. This absolutely requires understanding
  of the background information for the essay topic.
 Assess the validity – You need to decide if the
  statement is (a) true, (b) false, or (c) sometimes
  /somewhat true. Regardless of which of these
  positions you take, you must back up your
  assertion with facts. If sometimes true, when
  exactly? How do we know that?
Know your VERB (cont.)
IF THE QUESTION ASKS YOU TO…
 Evaluate – You need to JUDGE … For example, you
  may be asked to decide the extent to which one
  thing impacted another, the truth of a statement,
  etc. In all cases, you will need to determine what
  the most important aspects of the answer are.
 To what extent – Again, you need to make a
  judgment. How true is a cause-effect relationship?
  How accurately does a decade fit the period it’s
  assigned to? Be sure to back up your assertion with
  facts.
Know your VERB (cont.)
IF THE QUESTION ASKS YOU TO…
 Compare and contrast – You must provide BOTH
  similarities and differences between two periods,
  people, events, etc. Although you may feel strongly
  that they are more similar or more different, you
  MUST strive to present as balanced an answer as
  possible.
Brainstorm!
 You cannot possibly make an assertion (thesis)
  without first deciding what you know about the
  subject.
 DO NOT skip this step. It’s an extremely valuable
  use of your time.
 Generate as much SPECIFIC information as you
  can about the subject and task. (People, events,
  concepts, etc.)
Write your thesis paragraph
 The first 2-3 sentences should give background
  that supports your thesis statement (argument).
 A STRONG thesis statement is Requirement #1 for
  a good grade on the AP Free Response and DBQ.
 The thesis statement is the last sentence of this
  paragraph. It is:
   The central idea around which your paper is built
   A one-sentence answer to the question asked
   Your essay’s argument – to be defended with facts
Check your thesis statement
 This is the most important part of your essay! (You
  can’t build a house without a strong foundation…)
 Make sure it:
   1.   Deals with all aspects of the question
   2.   Takes a clear position
   3.   Provides an organizational framework
   4.   Is on-target and relevant (addresses core issues)
Organize your thoughts
 Create a quick, informal outline to use while
  writing.
 You might want to put information into a t-chart,
  Venn diagram, or some other graphic organizer
  that fits the task verb.
 BE SURE to pull all of the relevant specific
  information from your brainstorming into the
  outline – even the facts that might challenge your
  thesis (counterargument paragraph maybe?).
FINALLY…
 You’re ready to write!


 Don’t forget to go back to your outline and use this
 as a guide… Otherwise, you wasted time in all
 those other steps!!!

				
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posted:9/15/2012
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