How to Get a 5 on AP World History


[This article is part of a series where a former AP student goes over the strategies she used to get a 5 on different AP classes. Follow us to find the others!]


On this week’s “How to Get a 5” discussion, we’re covering the AP World History exam. A common misconception is that it’s very similar to the AP US History exam. But while a lot of the strategies may be the same, the content is vastly different. Therefore, the way you approach studying the material has to adjust from the get-go.


Here’s a brief overview of what your test will look like. Again, it looks so similar to the APUSH exam, but that’s how they get you!

Got it? Let’s explore the strategies:


#1 How to Take Notes

The biggest difference between AP World and APUSH is the range of content you’re expected to know. America’s history really only goes back about 200 years, whereas AP World requires you to know about a thousand years of content. You may be thinking, how can I memorize everything that’s ever happened in 1000 years? The key is in how you take notes starting from day 1 of your studies.


Taking good notes means you cannot just write down every fact in a straight-down bullet pointed list. You’ll never be able to find the relevant information you need when it comes time to study for the exam about a month before the test. Instead, AP World is all about understanding time in chunks, rather than a long timeline of events. Ask yourself, in each 100 years of history, who was the dominating nation, what was the most significant conflict, and what was the philosophy of the main actors? If you break down history like that, the essay questions will be a lot easier since you’ll likely be asked about events in a range of time.


#2 Pay Attention to Themes

A lot of students get caught up in memorizing the specific details of each event that has occurred in history. You can’t do that. Instead, develop different buckets of themes that are important to history and fit different events in these themes. Some examples of themes for AP World may include: cultural shifts, political uprisings, revolutions, philosophical ideals, etc. Once you’ve identified the most important themes, as you study, you’ll be able to identify how these themes apply to each event or moment in history.


#3 Again, Storytelling

For those of you who’ve read our APUSH blog, this is no surprise to you. They’re different tests for sure, but the one thing they have in common is that history is always best learned through storytelling. If you can grab a friend, a parent, or even a dog, tell them a story about what happened in each unit that you learn. Have them ask you questions, look up the answers, and then retell the story with anything you missed.


Something that we forget as AP students is that history was originally an oral activity where families would pass down stories from generation to generation. This is the key to acing the AP World History test.


Learning history is like learning a new language. It’s not enough to make study guides last minute, you have to start practicing early until it becomes second nature. We must practice our knowledge over and over so it becomes easy when we’re in the exam room. Check out 7EDU’s online AP World History classes happening NOW to start developing and practicing these skills early so that you can guarantee that 5. Contact us at (408) 216-9109 or info@7edu.org if you have any questions or want to learn more!



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