How to Succeed in AP World History  TIP #1: LEARN TO MANAGE TIME.

How to Succeed in AP World History (borrowed/modified from Southwest High School)
Students who take AP classes are many times those students
who are also involved in band, theatre, sports, and clubs. And that is just while they are at school!
These students also many times work part time and take more than one AP class! Time quickly
becomes a valuable commodity. Learning to manage time effectively and to prioritize schedules and
activities is difficult for most people – it is vital to success as an AP student.
Not just World History, but ALL AP subjects require good
reading comprehension and writing skills. This is especially true for English and History. When you
read the textbook, you will get better grades. There are other payoffs as well. Research has shown
that when students become avid readers they also become better writers.
Don’t just sit there! Ask questions! Engage in a
discussion - over the material, of course! When material is covered in class and you don’t
understand, ASK QUESTIONS! If you don’t understand the reading assignment, ASK QUESTIONS!
You not only will get your questions answered, but sooner or later your teacher will get the idea that
this course is important to you, and you want to gain mastery of the content. And, if you didn’t
know by now, teachers love this!
Our textbook has a website for students which is
quite comprehensive. There are reading quizzes, vocabulary words, chapter outlines, and study tips
for students. Many times the questions used on exams in class come directly from the website.
TIP #5: FORM A STUDY GROUP. I encourage students to form study groups to regularly meet
and review the material and study for upcoming exams. When you do form a study group, ask the
people in your group how THEY approach reading assignments or taking tests.
There are many such books available to students which they may purchase at a local bookstore, or
online. While these books offer valuable advice for students who intend on taking the AP Exam in
May, they are valuable study guides which many times include test taking tips, subject reviews, and
practice exams.
Yes, this sounds rather obvious, but many times students who
take AP classes have had academic success in elementary or middle school without having to
develop good study habits. Students who take notes are processing the information
Don’t give up easily.
Students need to learn that in life, most things of value require effort. The payoff for becoming a
good AP student is that you will become a GOOD STUDENT! And that is the best reward of all!
Outline (Option #1) The outlining strategy involves organizing information from general to specific. Outlining is a fairly versatile
format for organizing notes because it can be modified to accommodate personal needs and preferences. For
example, outlines can be formal or informal (e.g. with or without Roman numerals) and symbols for
distinguishing general and specific material can be varied. Notes in outline form help the student to detect and
understand relationships and associations among different pieces of information. Notes in outline form can also
be modified easily into study guides for exam preparation. Directions for taking or transcribing notes into outline form
are as follows:
Develop a Template
o Part of the outlining task can be completed before class/reading.
o Develop a "skeleton" outline or template based on the textbook.
o Use the major headings in the chapter to form the major sections of the outline.
o The details are filled in during lecture/reading.
Arrangement of Information
o Each major section of the outline should cover one major topic.
o Arrange the information within the section from most general to most specific, indenting the information
each time the level of changes.
o All of the levels may or may not be used.
o The most common symbols used in outlining are Roman numerals, upper and lower case letters, and
o Other symbols like circles and squares may be added or substituted for these according to personal
Record Notes
o Short phrases, symbols, shorthand, and abbreviations may be used to record notes in the outline.
o Drawings or figures may be incorporated to the right of the notes or between lines
An example of a formal outline is provided below.
The following is an example of an informal outline.
AGRICULTURE COMPARED TO HUNTING‐GATHERING A. Advantages of Agriculture 1. More efficient use of land a)
agric: 1 sq km supports 50 people h‐g: 25‐30 sq km supports 5‐6 people 2. More Stable food source thru year (w/ storage) 3. More free time in non‐critical seasons Disadvantages of Agriculture 1. Malnourishment a) farmers often deficient in protein 2. Labor intensive in critical seasons 3. High risk if crops/herds fail II.
AGRICULTURE COMPARED TO HUNTING‐GATHERING • Advantages of Agriculture o More efficient use of land ƒ agric: 1 sq km supports 50 people ƒ h‐g: 25‐30 sq km supports 5‐6 people o More Stable food source thru year (w/ storage) o More free time in non‐critical seasons • Disadvantages of Agriculture o Malnourishment ƒ farmers often deficient in protein o Labor intensive in critical seasons o High risk if crops/herds fail IDENTIFYING DOMESTICATES IN ARCH'L RECORD A. Plants 1. Seeds are bigger in size 2. Seed coats are thicker B. Animals 1. Size changes 2. Finer or thicker fur 3. Different horn shape II. IDENTIFYING DOMESTICATES IN ARCH'L RECORD • Plants o Seeds are bigger in size o Seed coats are thicker • Animals o Size changes o Finer or thicker fur o Different horn shape Two‐Column (Option #2) The two-column format (similar to Dialectical Journals in some English classes) works very well for history
because it forces you to think like a historian. By looking at the paragraphs in your textbook as evidence to the
main ideas, it helps you focus on supporting details and provides an effective organization strategy.
The "Headline" for the section goes in this box. Subheading: ________________________________________________ Main Idea (written as a topic sentence): Subheading: ________________________________________________ Main Idea (written as a topic sentence): In the space to the right, analyze
changes, continuities,
similarities, or differences for
the "Headline" topic above. In the space to the right, provide a
global connection for the same
"Headline" topic. Historical Evidence that supports the Main Idea or
Concept (label as Social, Political, Interactions,
Cultural, or Economic) 1.
Cornell Notes (Option #3) The Cornell Method is a research-based note-taking strategy that is simple and efficient. If used correctly, it can
be valuable tool for students because it forces you to review your notes and summarize.
Chapter Number
Title / Topic
Focus Question Date Questions Minimum of 3 questions. Consider this left‐hand column the place for study questions and main ideas. These questions should NOT be written during your note‐
taking. They should be written after note‐
taking but before the next class period in order to be a useful reflection technique. • Use this space to write your notes.
• It is best to color-code or highlight your notes – section titles (blue),
section topics (red), and details (black)
• Use highlighters or colored pencils for underlining important
information and vocabulary.
• Be sure to focus on notes related to the focus question.
• Include any vocabulary and make sure you record the definition if
it’s a new word.
• If you go past one page, attach an additional page of notes at the
bottom with glue or tape. Do NOT continue on to the back of the
• Use abbreviations.
• Paraphrase to capture content but simplify writing – do not copy
complete sentences out of the textbook!!!!!
• Use symbols (arrows, circles, underlining) or highlight important
information, ideas/words that are unclear, relationships between
• Include graphics (diagrams, charts) when relevant.
• Skip lines between main ideas. Summary: In the space to the right, write a thorough sentence summarizing this
page (no more than 25 words is suggested)
SPICE Chart (Option #4) The structure of your textbook lends itself well to a “Charting” method of note taking while the AP World
History themes provide an ideal structure for this chart. As you read, you can record your facts in the correct
theme which will help you categorize and compare the content.
Social Structures •
Gender roles and relations Family and kinship Racial and ethnic constructions Social and economic classes Interaction
Politics •
Forms of government Leaders Development and expansion of states Empires Nations and nationalism Revolts and revolutions Warfare and diplomacy Regional, transregional, and global structures/organizations Cultures (Humans and Environment)
Demographics Disease Migration Patterns of settlement Technology •
Religions Belief systems, philosophies, and ideologies Science and technology Arts and Architecture Interaction, dissemination and adaptation of ideas, beliefs, and knowledge Economics •
Agricultural and pastoral production Trade and commerce Labor systems Industrialization Capitalism and socialism Production of goods and services Min
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Niagara University
Choose a place to read where there will be a minimum of distractions.
Try to sit in the same place each time you read your textbook.
Read at peak periods of attention, rather than when you are tired or distracted.
Do not read your most difficult textbook at the end of a study session. Push yourself to read it first or second.
Make a schedule for all your reading; take a few moments to plan your study and reading time for all your classes.
Reward yourself after reading.
Get interested in the textbook by
1. trying to predict the author's thoughts
2. trying to connect the chapter with previous chapters
3. trying to connect what you are reading with what you've in other courses or learned in other courses, or
with your own observations or experiences.- reading critically
4. asking questions while you read. For example . . .
if you're reading a psychology chapter entitled "States of Consciousness" . . .
"You have probably heard stories of people under hypnosis being able to recall details of a crime they witnessed,
such as remembering a license plate number. Because hypnosis has been reported to improve memory, it has been
used in police investigations."
. . . you might ask these questions:
How does someone get hypnotized?
Is hypnosis reliable?
If hypnosis is used in police investigations, can something recalled under hypnosis be used in court?
Have such recollections ever swayed the outcomes of a court case?
8. Combine mental and physical activities. For example, write notes and underline key points in your textbook while
reading. Also, consider mapping the reading.
9. Vary your activities. Alternate textbook reading, for example, with accounting problems or a chemistry lab report.
10. Keep a distractions list nearby. Jot down items that distract you while you’re reading that you need to remember
later on (such as something you need to buy, or a reminder to make an appointment).
11. Keep a tally ( //// ) of how often your mind wanders while you're reading.
12. Prop up your textbook, so your angle of vision is approximately 90º.
13. Avoid moving your lips as you read.
14. Avoid moving your finger along the lines as your read.
15. Avoid moving your head from left to right as you read.
16. Avoid distracting physical activities such as tapping your foot or chewing gum while reading.
17. As you read, think of the writer(s) who wrote the textbook. Remember that there is a real person behind the print.
Consider why and how that person wrote what you're reading. Consider how that author chose to organize the
18. Treat reading as only the first step in the reading process. One reading is seldom enough. For mastery, you'll also
need to re-read, review, write summaries, and/or discuss the material with others.
19. Think of reading as communication and thinking.
20. Establish a purpose for reading each chapter and each section, by turning the headings into questions.
Try to begin your questions with "WHAT," "HOW," and "WHY," words that lead to more detailed responses.
Searching for the answers while you read will result in more active reading.
For the biology heading "Regulation of Bile Release," ask "How is bile release regulated?" Then read to find the
answer. For the history heading "Dawn of the Atomic Age," begin with the question "When did the Atomic Age
begin?" but continue with questions such as "How did the Atomic Age develop?" and "How did the Atomic Age
alter life in the 20th century?" The active thinking needed to write such questions will expand your understanding
of the material.
Also, connect subheadings to broader headings. This sociology heading "Problems of the Elderly" is followed by
the subheading "Housing and Health Care." Connect them by asking "Why is housing a problem for the elderly?"
or "How can health care be improved for the elderly?" Don’t these sound like test questions? *
21. Use the"S-Q-3R" method, but add a "W" step. "S-Q-3R" stands for
"Survey - Question - Read - Recite - Review." This is a systematic approach to reading which includes taking
specific actions before you begin to read, and some more actions after you finish reading. Here's a brief
Survey - In 2 - 5 minutes, glance over the headings in the chapter to discover the main points that will be
developed. Also, if there is a summary paragraph, read it.
Question - Turn each heading into a question, to arouse your curiosity, thereby increasing your comprehension.
The questions also help you distinguish the main point from the explanatory details. Turning a heading into a
question is really a simple task, but it requires a conscious effort on your part.
Read - Read carefully, to answer the question (usually to the end of that headed section). Actively search for the
Recite - Now look away from the book and try to recite the answer to each of your questions. Use your own
words, and include an example. If you can do this, you know what you have just read. If you can't, glance back
over the section. An excellent way to do this reciting from memory is to jot down cue phrases in outline form on a
sheet of paper. Make these notes very brief.
Review - After the material has been read, look over your notes to get a bird’s-eye view of the points and their
relationship, and check your memory of the content by reciting the major sub points under each heading. This
checking of your memory can be done by covering up the notes and trying to recall the main points. Then uncover
each major point and try to recall the sub points listed under it.
Write - This is an extension of "Review" above. In addition to just thinking about what you remember, write the
material down. Write lists, write summaries, and write answers to questions. Writing helps you commit the
material to memory.
PQRST: A Textbook Reading Strategy
Step 1: Preview (5-10 minutes)
Before reading a chapter, you should preview it. When previewing, you want to get a sense of where
you are going with your reading. It is like planning for a trip to an unfamiliar destination – you most
likely won’t get in your car and drive! Before leaving, you most likely make a plan; you look at a map,
determine your destination, and figure out what you’re going to see along the way. Previewing a
textbook is a similar process: you want to get a sense of what you will be learning about in the chapter
before you start to read.
1. Read the title and the chapter objective. Ask yourself a few questions, such as
• What do I already know about this topic?
• What key concepts is the chapter going to discuss?
• What has the instructor said about these concepts?
2. Skim the introduction, looking for hints about key concepts.
3. Read and think about the headings and subheadings. They outline the major topics and
subtopics within the chapter. Consider making a chapter map.
4. Notice pictures and diagrams, charts, bolded or italicized words and marginal notes.
5. Read the summary, noting which points have received emphasis.
6. Scan the review questions.
Step 2: Question (1-2 minutes per heading)
After getting an overview of the chapter through previewing, it is time to start asking questions. In
this step of the process, you generate questions to help focus your reading and find the key points in
each section. Follow these steps:
1. Read the heading.
2. Predict questions based on that heading. Include questions based on who; what; when;
where; why; and how. For tips on generating good questions, check out the Critical Thinking
and Questioning section.
3. Jot your questions down in the margin of your text for easy reference.
Step 3: Read
After generating a few questions, you finally get to read - but you’re not going to read the whole
chapter at once! At this stage, only read the section of text that applies to the heading with which you
are working. As a general rule, usually one key idea is introduced in each paragraph. In fact, about
half the time the key idea is found in the first sentence of textbook paragraphs. (Hint: About half the
time it is found in the first sentence.) While you are reading the section, do the following:
1. Look for the answers to your questions.
2. Notice the bolded and underlined words or phrases.
3. Reread sections that are difficult. If necessary, break larger sections down into smaller
sections or even paragraphs.
Step 4: Summarize
After you finish reading a section of text, summarize your learning by recalling the important ideas
from the section you just read and recording them in your notes. When summarizing, you might do the
doing the following:
• Locate and underline the key ideas. These ideas should answer many of the questions you
• Summarize and record important concepts in the margins of your text.
• Take notes on paper or on your computer. Write the key ideas in point form and in your own
words, so you understand the information better. The Cornell note taking strategy works well
here because you can include the questions you have generated alongside your notes.
• Draw diagrams, if appropriate.
Relate the new information you have learned to something you already know, and consider
recording any helpful ideas in your notes. Ask yourself:
o What does it remind me of?
o Can I think of a real world example?
o Can I connect it to something in my own experience?
Next step: Now go back and repeat the Question-Read-Summarize process (Steps 2-4) for the
next section of the textbook. Repeat this process until you reach the end of the section or chapter you
are reading. Then, review the chapter summary to ensure that you have captured all the key ideas.
Step 5: Test
Now that you have finished Steps 2 through 4 for the entire chapter, you can move
on to the test, or review, stage. Keep the following strategies in mind:
• Read the questions you wrote and try to answer them aloud or in writing.
• Create a mind map of different concepts from the chapter.
• Make mnemonic devices to help you memorize facts.
• Create charts to summarize large chunks of information.
Textbook reading can be challenging and, sometimes, tiresome. With practice, the PQRST
reading strategy can help you remain active and alert, so you can make the most of your study