AP World History
The breadth of world history has always posed challenges for AP teachers to create opportunities for deep conceptual understanding for students while addressing a syllabus largely driven by sheer scope. The AP World History course outlined in this course and exam description addresses these challenges by providing a clear framework of six chronological periods viewed through the lens of related key concepts and course themes, accompanied by a set of skills that clearly define what it means to think historically.
The course’s organization around a limited number of key concepts instead of a perceived list of facts, events, and dates makes teaching each historical period more manageable. The three to four key concepts per period define what is most essential to know about each period based upon the most current historical research in world history. This approach enables students to spend less time on factual recall, more time on learning essential concepts, and helps them develop historical thinking skills necessary to explore the broad trends and global processes involved in their study of AP World History.
To foster a deeper level of learning, the framework distinguishes content that is essential to support the understanding of key concepts from content examples that are not required. Throughout the framework, possible examples of historical content are provided in the right-hand column as an illustration of the key concept, but these illustrative examples are not required features of the course or required knowledge for the exam. Instead, the illustrative examples are provided to offer teachers a variety of optional instructional contexts that will help their students achieve deeper understanding. In this way the framework provides teachers freedom to tailor instruction to the needs of their students and offers flexibility in building upon their own strengths as teachers.
The themes and key concepts are intended to provide foundational knowledge for future college-level course work in history. Command of these course themes and key concepts requires sufficient knowledge of detailed and specific relevant historical developments and processes — including names, chronology, facts, and events — to exemplify the themes and key concepts. However, the specific historical developments and processes taught in an AP World History course will vary by teacher according to the instructional choices each teacher makes to provide opportunities for student investigation and learning for each key concept and theme.