Why Take AP® U.S. History?

When faced with the choice of whether or not to take AP® U.S. History, the benefits often outweigh the costs for most students.

Besides creating opportunity to earn college credit for the work you do, AP® U.S. History courses also develop crucial skills, challenge you academically, and help round out your knowledge in ways you wouldn’t otherwise be able to.

Below are five of the biggest benefits of taking AP® U.S. History.

Why you should take AP® U.S. History

Reason #1: Develop writing skills

One thing you’ll be doing a LOT of in AP® U.S. History is writing. Not only will you have to create research- and evidence-based essays, your teacher will also show you how to earn points for thesis statements, contextualization, analysis, and reasoning on the free-response questions of the real AP® Exam. Each of these skills, which are tested on the real AP® U.S. History Exam, can help you write more clearly and precisely.

 

Reason #2: Develop research skills

AP® U.S. History requires a lot of research. After all, if you’re going to be writing essays and learning about the breadth of the United States’ history, you’re going to have to know where to look for that information, and how to cite it properly. As such, you’ll become intimately familiar with better research methods, note-taking tactics, and study techniques. These essential writing and research skills will definitely help you in college-level humanities classes.

Reason #3: Challenge yourself

While this may seem like a drawback, being challenged in school actually makes you a better student. In fact, studies have shown that the more students are challenged in their courses, the better they perform academically. And considering the course work, there’s no question that AP® U.S. History will challenge your writing, research, and study skills.

Reason #4: Prepare for college

This is a no brainer. Taking the AP® U.S. History course can fulfill your college credit for a history requirement. However, the skills you develop and the knowledge you’ll gain throughout the course will also prepare you for the sort of academic work you’ll do in history and other humanities courses in college.

Reason #5: Gain vital information

Do you know how the Cold War influenced modern American society? Do you know why the Constitution was written? Or how about what how women achieved the right to vote?

If you do, consider yourself in the minority of Americans who know the basic facts about U.S. history. A recent study shows that the vast majority of Americans wouldn’t be able to pass a basic U.S. Citizenship Test if they had to take one!

AP® U.S. History will help you master that information—and more—give you the tools you need to be a productive, engaged and informed citizen of the United States.

How to sign up for AP® U.S. History

Bottom line: AP® U.S. History will help prepare you for college and your life beyond. If all the above benefits appeal to you, be sure to sign up for the course if you haven’t already.

To do that, you simply need to contact your school’s AP® coordinator, who can help facilitate your courses and exams.

Bear in mind you’ll likely need to complete requirements to be eligible to enroll in an AP® course. Once you do though, you’ll be well on your way to attaining college credit before you even step foot on campus.

For more information, be sure to check out College Board’s article on the topic here.

How much does the AP® Exam cost?

Each AP® Exam costs a total of $94—if you’re in the mainland United States and its territories and commonwealths, Canada, or a U.S. Department of Defense Dependents School.

If you’re outside of those areas, the AP® Exam will cost $124 per exam.

The College Board has a financial aid program that offers a $32 fee reduction in the exam.

When you take into account the cost of a college semester versus the cost of the exam, though, you’ll see that the AP® Exam is actually a bargain. With a passing score, you may be able to earn college credit and save a lot of money.

How to best study for the AP® US History Exam

The best way you can retain the wealth of historical information contained in the course IS NOT through mindless memorization. Instead, you should try something called spaced repetition.

This is the method of memorizing pieces of information by consuming them every single day. The best part of that is it doesn’t take hour-long sessions of reading and memorizing either. It can be as simple as a 15–30 minute reading session daily, especially in the weeks leading up to the real AP® U.S. History Exam.

This is how Gabriel Wyner, fluency expert and author of Fluent Forever, manages to memorize dozens of languages. “In a four-month period, practicing for 30 minutes a day, you can expect to learn and retain 3600 flashcards with 90 to 95 percent accuracy,” Wyner says.

Be sure to leverage this knowledge by using our resources to help you study every day. Remember, it doesn’t take a lot of time. All it takes is consistency. Once you realize that and manage to use this method to the best of its ability, you can expect to perform well on the real AP® Exam.

If you do find yourself cramming in the last weeks before the exam, the best thing you can do is study as much as you can in the days leading up to it. And always remember to get plenty of sleep and to eat well beforehand. Only then can you expect your brain to perform to its fullest potential.