The long essay question on the AP U.S. History exam is designed to test your ability to apply knowledge of history in a complex, analytic manner. In other words, you are expected to treat history and historical questions as a historian would. This process is called historiography— the skills and strategies historians use to analyze and interpret historical evidence to reach a conclusion. Thus, when writing an effective essay, you must be able to write a strong and clearly developed thesis and supply a substantial amount of relevant evidence to support your thesis.
Look at the question below and formulate a response. You can do this by making bullet points or, to get the test day experience, time yourself for 35 minutes and write! After the question, there are two sample essays that would receive a perfect scores. Check your essay against them to see if you got many of the same key points. Remember the four steps: dissect the question, formulate a thesis, plan your evidence, and write your essay.
Long Answer Sample Question
Sample Essay 1
This thesis statement establishes a clear argument that addresses all parts of the question and makes a clear argument, earning one point. It does a nice job of demonstrating that at least two reform movements were not just aimed at the effects of the Industrial Revolution, but also at the
impact on small business, workers, and consumers, as well as corruption in government. Through its clear thesis, the essay is also able to address the targeted skill of causation by dealing with the causes and effects of the events mentioned in the question, for which it earns both of the possible points.
In its body paragraphs, the essay also does a very good job of identifying and using specific evidence to support its argument. It cites the Farmers’ Alliances and their role in pushing for the Interstate Commerce Act and Sherman Antitrust Act. In addition, the essay uses a lot of pertinent information from the presidency of Theodore Roosevelt to support the thesis statement and also addresses how there were some reforms that dealt with the natural environment, i.e., national parks and the forest service. These examples also address the targeted skill by showing the cause and effect of these events in relation to the reform movements, earning two more points.
You also are able to meet the last point by applying the skill of synthesis. You modified the statement in developing your argument and employed the use of other categories. This essay scores a 6 out of a possible 6 points.
Sample Essay 2
This thesis statement establishes a clear argument that addresses all parts of the question and makes a clear argument, earning the point for thesis. The essay does a good job arguing that reform was taking place throughout the United States and that some industrialists supported it and some reform was affected by the Market Revolution. The argument also addresses the targeted skill of causation by dealing with the causes and effects of the events mentioned in the question, earning two points.
The essay uses specific evidence to support the argument, which earns the 2 possible points. For example, it points out that the Anti-Slavery Society and Temperance Society were not just limited to New England and that some of the important leaders were merchants. You also identify reformers such as Charles Finney and use these examples to support arguments that some reformers were affected more by their beliefs than by the Market Revolution. These examples also address the targeted skill by showing the cause and effect of these events on merchants and reformers in relation to the reform movements.