What do I need to know about World History AP at HSPVA for the 2020 - 2021 school year?
For the latest updates from me, the course instructor, check out the Notes for WHAP Parents page.
Parents, there is much more below, but definitely read this...
When faced with the difficult challenges and growing pains a child might be feeling as he or she adjusts to a new level of rigor and a new burden of learning responsibility, it's often useful for parents to consider again the exam they will face in May. Imagine your student was commuting to Austin this year, taking the freshman history class at UT. This places the transition into perspective. Not for my ego, but for your confidence, you can be assured that this HSPVA course is in exact alignment with the College Board requirements and my record with WHAP and AP scores generally, is very good. Grades earned in my class are strongly correlated to the results students achieve on the exam. My students succeed in the May exam and in future classes. (Read a former student's perspective here.)
What does AP mean exactly?
Advanced Placement refers to a standard set by the College Board for Freshmen or Sophomores at the college level in collaboration with teachers, professors and experts in a particular field of study. Students may take the AP Exam each May. A passing score is accepted for credit by most public universities in the U.S and abroad in lieu of taking that course. (Check with individual universities for their specific AP policy.)
What exactly is World History AP?
As with any AP class, WHAP mirrors the college experience in terms of rigor and appeal. However, taking this class in High School offers students the advantage of more attention from the teacher and an understanding that students need more support in order to be successful. As a discipline, World History seeks to analyze history by comparing societies, examining contacts between cultures, and observing continuity and change over time. By taking a thematic approach, rather than emphasizing area studies, students learn analysis over mere rote memorization. Students develop critical thinking and writing skills along with a deep understanding of global processes and their causes in a wide variety of societies. WHAP is very relevant to a learner moving toward college and a profession in an increasingly interconnected and globalized world. The creative and analytical skills learned in this class will translate well into an unknown future.
How is this different from previous years?
The College Board altered the “course description” for this course in 2011. This document essentially lays out the framework for teachers with regard to the syllabus College Board will approve and the nature of the exam in May. The move was away from a long litany of world history “facts” to a broader approach to viewing the larger trends in human societies. Beginning with the 2012-2013 school year, HSPVA has assigned Mr. Wyatt Bingham to teach this course. Mr. Bingham has extensive experience with this course, the exam and the Advanced Placement environment having taught Pre-AP classes as well as AP European History, AP Psychology and AP World History in the past. Mr. Bingham is also accredited as an AP reader, scoring AP Exam essays in the summer.
What about honors GPA credit?
World History AP awards honors grade points.
How hard is the class?
This course relies on the student's internal motivation, not just to earn a good grade, but also to make meaningful leaps in understanding that she already understands will improve her preparation for her future. Any typical student should be intellectually capable of managing in WHAP. The greatest difference is in the home-learning. WHAP students are expected to do all secondary source reading (mainly the college level text) outside of class so that class time is available for clarification, discussion, simulations, debates and improving writing and primary source document skills.
Plan on committing five to seven hours per week outside of class for reading, studying and test preparation, more for students who may need to catch up on reading, writing and note taking skills. It would be unreasonable for parents to expect that their student might not encounter a drop (at least initially) in their grade as they transition to a college level class from middle school and 9th grade classwork.
Summer reading is also required to prepare for the beginning of the course.
Chronological Boundaries of the Course
The course has as its chronological frame the period from approximately 8000 B.C.E.* to the present, with the period 8000 B.C.E. to 600 C.E. serving as the foundation for the balance of the course.
An outline of the periodization with associated percentages for suggested course content is listed below. We will not however approach each of these periods in sequence. The course is planned so that all content learning is completed by Spring Break so that students are prepared for the AP Exam.
8000 B.C.E..–600 C.E. 19–20%
600 C.E..–1450 22%
1900–the present 19–20%
Exam prep and review
The AP World History course requires students to engage with the dynamics of continuity and change across the historical periods that are included in the course. Students must analyze the processes and causes involved in these continuities and changes. In order to do so, students and teachers focus on FIVE overarching themes which serve throughout the course as unifying threads, helping students to put what is particular about each period or society into a larger framework. The themes also provide ways to make comparisons over time and facilitate cross‐period questions. Each theme will receive approximately equal attention over the course of the year.
1. Interaction between humans and the environment
• Demography and disease
• Patterns of settlement
2. Development and interaction of cultures
• Belief systems, philosophies, and ideologies
• Science and technology
• The arts and architecture
• Educational systems
3. State‐building, expansion, and conflict
• Political structures and forms of governance
• Nations and nationalism
• Revolts and revolutions
• Regional, transregional, and global structures and organizations
4. Creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems
• Agricultural and pastoral production
• Trade and commerce
• Labor systems
• Capitalism and socialism
5. Development and transformation of social structures
• Gender roles and relations
• Family and kinship
• Racial and ethnic constructions
• Social and economic classes
Writing & Testing
Students will successfully write several open ended timed, in class essays (at least two each “compare & contrast” and “continuity & change over time”) and two timed in class DBQ’s (document based question) essays. This is in addition to the 33 objective unit (chapter) tests and five period (era) tests.
The AP World History course addresses habits of mind in two categories: (1) those addressed by any rigorous history course, and (2) those addressed by a world history course.
Four habits of mind are in the first category:
• Constructing and evaluating arguments: using evidence to make plausible arguments
• Using documents and other primary data: developing the skills necessary to
analyze point of view and context, and to understand and interpret information
• Assessing continuity and change over time and over different world regions
• Understanding diversity of interpretations through analysis of context, point of view, and frame of reference
Five habits of mind are in the second category:
• Seeing global patterns and processes over time and space while connecting local developments to global ones
• Comparing within and among societies, including comparing societies’ reactions
to global processes
• Considering human commonalities and differences
• Exploring claims of universal standards in relation to culturally diverse ideas
• Exploring the persistent relevance of world history to contemporary developments.
* This program uses the designation B.C.E. (before the common era) and C.E. (common era); these labels correspond to B.C. (before Christ) and A.D. (anno Domini).
 AP and Advanced Placement are registered trademarks of the College Entrance Examination Board.
If you would like a specific recommendation or have further questions, feel free to email me using the contact form on this site.