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  • Bailey McFadden

How to Beat the AP World Exam

An AMSCO AP World History textbook / Credits: SF Jones

On May 11 at 8:00 a.m., all sophomores at Walls will gather for a grueling experience: the AP World History exam.

One of two exams that all SWW students take, AP World has a pass rate of just 60.2 percent, according to College Board data. It’s most sophomores’ first AP exam, making it stressful and overwhelming for some students. But older students can give advice on how to conquer the exam.

Carlton Ackerman, who teaches AP World History, said that “the number one means to do well on the AP exam is study groups.” He added that “kids who study together do well together.”

Eli Rethy (‘23) agreed that having a study group was helpful while he was studying for the exam. “If I had a question … I could ask somebody else, and maybe they’d know it better than I did.”

Jaelyn Jackson (‘24) also worked in a study group. “I worked with a partner,” she said, “and we would meet up at the library a couple days a week. … I would recommend that.”

Understanding the structure of the exam is also important. Abigail McGraw-Traster (‘24) said “You have to make sure you understand how the essay questions are formatted,” Abigail McGraw-Traster (‘24 said. “What are the elements that you need for an LEQ [long essay question], how much evidence do you need to use for a DBQ [document-based question]? Those are really important to know.” She added that if you understand the structure, you can “prioritize what things you want to try to get the points for.”

An overwhelming number of students recommend Heimler’s History, a YouTube channel run by Steve Heimler, a history teacher and a reader — a grader for the College Board — for the AP World exam.

He created review videos that align with the AMSCO AP World textbook units and cover all the information that students need to know for the exam.

Lily Turcotte-Keen (‘24) recommended using “Heimler for major events and doing research and honing in on things you don’t know.”

“For each [unit] you should have specific examples of all the different themes, like continuity and change,” she added.

While there are many paid studying resources, many students said free materials more than covered their needs. “I don’t think I used any paid resources,” Nicola Klarfeld (‘24) said.

In addition to Heimler’s History and the AMSCO textbook, she recommended using the Oversimplified YouTube channel, which produces simple, animated explanations of major conflicts and events. “They help you learn the faces of people,” she said, calling it helpful for analyzing political cartoons.

Upperclassmen encouraged sophomores to get enough sleep the day before the exam, eat a hearty breakfast, and make sure not to cram.

Mr. Ackerman emphasized the importance of stress management before the exam. “Realize that there are more important things in the world,” he said. “But at the same time, give it everything you’ve got.”


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