Should I Take APUSH?

After this year, I never want to see this cover ever again.

Now is the time when high schools start handing out course verification sheets and you, being an AP World student (or not), can’t decide on whether or not to take APUSH next year. Of course, that depends on your abilities and it depends on the APUSH teacher as well. My school happens to have a teacher that has a 90% pass rate on the APUSH AP exam and 75% of his students score a four or higher. That said, there are only 60 students in all of APUSH this year (at our school) compared to the 40% of freshmen going into AP World.

Numbers aside, if you’re coming from AP World, things are going to definitely be easier for you. If you didn’t come from AP World, well, I guess I’ll have to create an article detailing what you need to know for APUSH. Whenever I’m finished with the article, this will be the link. I don’t know how other schools and other teachers teach APUSH but my teacher uses primarily lectures and document studies. Therefore, there is “no” homework and little classwork. The reason I put the quotations around no is because we have to do essay prep for each unit’s essays (the first of which linked to here) and we have discussion groups (read: debate) that we have to research for and sometimes, we need to read a book. The textbook reading is recommended but I almost never do it because my teacher goes over everything anyway and I can learn what I missed from Crash Course US History or from my essay prep. However, because of this relative lack of homework and classwork, if you mess up on a test or essay, you’re going to find it hard to get your grade back up.

Everything is relatively easy except for the content itself. Being in a smaller timeframe than world history, US history is much more detailed and you’re required to know the cause and effects of everything as well as be aware of who is president at what time, what happened, how it happened, what it affected, who is involved and how it ties in to any larger patterns occurring throughout US history. But if you have a good head for details and have a decent ability to absorb and retain information (aka memory), then you’re good to go. Writing skills isn’t rated too highly as a necessary skill because you’re basically writing informative essays, but it really does help a lot if you can write well.

If you are one of those hardworking students that are on top of everything, APUSH is the right class for you. It’s technically not much work but it kinda is a lot of work because the work is thoughtful and you can’t just fill in the blanks or anything like that. But if you’ve struggled in AP World, APUSH isn’t going to be right for you. If you’re taking three or more other APs in the same year, it’s also probably not a good idea to take APUSH on top of that. If you like APs that aren’t too hard, then APUSH is definitely not for you. You need to put real effort into the class and if you’re just planning on coasting along with someone else’s help, you are going to fail. Take another AP instead. And depending on your teacher, you might pass the class but not the AP exam so take your teacher’s success statistics into consideration as well. You can ask your counselor or the APUSH teacher for that.

And, of course, your school has a set of recommended prerequisites for each AP class and if you fit the prerequisites, then you have a good chance at doing well in the class. However, what the prerequisites don’t cover is the student’s coping ability and their time management skills. This class is highly stressful for me but I am able to handle being under pressure. I have horrible time management skills but I have a good memory and am able to absorb and understand material really fast. So you just really have to know your own capabilities in terms of being able to handle not just the work and content but also how you work and learn. I don’t recommend you waive into the class, but if you do, make sure you’re prepared to put a lot of effort into the class.

I personally was recommended for APUSH and I came into the class from on-level World. I got a 90% this past semester in the class without the extra seven fluff points (with the fluff points would obviously make it 97%). That goes to show that you don’t necessarily need to come from AP World to succeed in APUSH, however, I’ve got to tell you I had a rough first two months in the class where I failed my first two essays. One of my friends thought she could do well in the class and was offended that she wasn’t recommended by our World History teacher to take APUSH and so, she waived into the class instead. She hasn’t been doing so well since then. So take your teacher recommendations seriously because what the recommended prerequisites lack in the human factor, your teacher makes up for in their recommendations.

And that’s all. If you have any general questions about the class, please leave a comment below or drop us a line at I’ll talk to you later.

This is an example of what a unit syllabus looks like in my APUSH class: Unit I Syllabus

For further help, this is a good website for a general look at what you need to know for a given unit in APUSH.

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