If you happened to check Hell, also known as AP US History, on your schedule for what most likely is your junior/most-stressful year, it would be sensible to conclude that you probably go to bed every night panicking over whether you’ve made the right decision.
Also, if you are anything like I was, you are also waiting until the very last minute to do your summer work; a choice you most likely will regret but no worries about that yet.
As a former student of the notorious class and a notable (i.e. practically unknown) blogger here on WordPress, I feel it my responsibility to pass on my knowledge onto the incoming students. I would have loved to have this type of information before I took the class, not that it would have swayed my decision to stay in it, but it would have been extremely helpful in preparing me for what was coming.
All I got from other students when I inquired about the class was an ominous “Don’t take it.” So I decided that I should try to give my beloved, non-existent readers a more in-depth review of the infamous APUSH (a silly abbreviation you’ll get used to).
*Note: Understand that I most likely went to a different school, had a different teacher, and endured different coursework than you will. Many details will come from my individual experience, but I hope the main points are universal.
First off, here are 5 reasons why you SHOULD NOT take APUSH:
1. You’re not prepared to WORK.
There are students that exist who manage to skate by several classes doing minimal work or not studying. A rare few even get by with A’s. Though I commend and admire you if you are this type of person, I also want to warn you that this is not going to help you in this class. I think it is impossible to survive this class as a slacker (a real slacker– not what you overachievers think of as “slacking” when you fail to do one homework assignment). There will be pages and pages of notes you have to take, questions to answer, and facts to remember. You will literally have to study, not skim through some pages of class notes and assume you got the gist of it. If the thought of spending hours doing homework, and then a few more hours studying for the test, is something you don’t think you can get used to, don’t take it.
2. You already have a crap-load of stuff to do.
I think this is super important because a majority of the students taking this class are overachievers who want to take as many AP classes as they can while also piling on a load of volunteer hours for college. I’m not telling you to sign out of this course if you have a lot planned for next year; I’m telling to ask yourself if you have a lot planned for next year, and if you can add APUSH to that plan without losing sleep. Personally, I had a CNA course for which I missed school one day each week for ten weeks and a college-level course for which I missed another half-day of school each week. I also had sports for the first few months, an after-school club, band practices/performances/trips, and student government. Handling all the make-up work was almost unbearable. There were days when I would come home at 7:00 p.m with an essay, 20+ questions, chemistry homework, and a clinical journal to do. Throw in two tests to make-up and some chores around the house and consider me dead. Analyze your own schedule: do you have a job? a lot of extracurriculars? 3 other AP classes (or classes you know will be hard)? APUSH may not be considered the hardest subject but in terms of workload, it reigns high. Again, ask yourself: Are you ready for that? Can you handle it? Do you feel lucky, punk?
3. You’re not a big writer.
You will be writing. A lot. You don’t have to be a genius in English class but you do have to have some grasp on grammar and completing a sufficient essay. By the end of the year, your APUSH binder will hold within its frail rings the pieces of hundreds of fallen trees– half of it will be your writing. I had a bunch of captions questions to answer, essays to write, research to do, PowerPoints to make, and… more questions to answer. If you hate writing, you will also hate this class.
4. You’re not a big reader.
You will be reading. A lot. Have you seen your history book? Your teacher will expect you to read all of that, cover to cover. You’re probably thinking, “Yeah right, I’m not reading that thing. I’ll just skim.” For most of the other classes you’ve taken so far, this is probably true; you can skim when they say read. This class? Not so much. I didn’t have to take notes on my chapters but I believe others had to in their schools, in which case you will be forced to read the material. If you don’t have to, like me, reading the book is still necessary. Why? You know those little tidbits you scan over because you think it’s not important? It’ll be on the test. I am warning you right now that if you don’t plan on reading at least the majority of the book, don’t plan on doing well in the class or passing the exam.
5. You hate history.
I don’t expect everybody who is taking this course to be so engrossed in learning about history that they can spend their free-time watching documentaries or memorizing the Gettysburg Address. However, you should have some interest in the subject. I know a lot of people who have said, “I HATE history!” Yes, these were people who took the course. Yes, these are people who said the course wrecked their grades and destroyed their lives (APUSH students have a very strong grasp on the hyperbole). Don’t take the course just because your parents forced you to or because you think it’ll look good on college applications. A majority of your time will be spent staring into a history textbook, writing opinions about historical events, and watching historical documentaries. Then, on exam day (the whole reason why you took the class, I assume), you will have to answer 80 multiple questions and write 3 essays for which you will have under an hour to finish for each. If you loathe the subject, spare yourself the torture. Devote your time to something you’ll enjoy instead, like sleeping in regular history.
Now that the negatives are out of the way, let’s talk about why you SHOULD take APUSH:
1. It will look good on college applications. (duh)
Keeping in mind what I just told you in #5, this class will make you look like a student who challenged him/herself, as with any other AP class. If you take this class and get a B, it’ll still look better than an A in regular history. If your school weighs classes (which all schools should), it’ll help your GPA and class rank. Just understand that if you fail the class, it won’t look so good.
2. You want to be prepared for other AP classes.
The workload in this class will help you handle the workload you’ll have in other AP classes or, at the very least, caution you of it. Once you’ve learned to master APUSH work, others seem to pale in comparison… or that’s what I’ve heard. APUSH was the only class I had room for last year and is the only one I’ve completed thus far. I’m just pulling info out of my gluteus maximus for this one.
3. You’re not a procrastinator OR you’re a good procrastinator.
Procrastination won’t help you in a class where the amount of work you have to do can be summed up in one picture:
The only way to survive this class procrastinating is if you have mastered the art. Can you can do a three-page paper at 11:oo p.m, finish a bit after midnight, and not mind the intrusion on your sleep? Or can you do a three-page paper at 6:00 a.m, finish before class starts, and still get a passing grade? If you’ve answered yes to either of these questions, you are a master procrastinator. Otherwise, learn how to not procrastinate and get your work done. Getting the work done is half of your grade; the other is getting enough sleep so you can do the rest well.
4. You want to be informed.
There’s a lot of false information flying towards your face through the computer or TV screen that you are going to be more than willing to accept if you are not properly informed. This is one of the main reasons why I loved this course– by its conclusion I felt vastly cultured and knowledgeable. This is probably an overly pretentious conclusion but I did learn a lot. Many of the things you will learn in this course are things many Americans do not know but should know. It’ll help you filter out the things you hear or read from supposed “reliable” journalists or political figures. It’ll make you one of the few Americans who knows who was president during World War I…
Regular American history can teach you this as well but doesn’t cover everything as thoroughly as its AP counterpart. You’ll develop strong opinions on things you had never even heard of before; you’ll learn to care more about the things going on around you (assuming you don’t already). I think this is the most important benefit of taking APUSH, and if you agree with me already, without having even taken the class yet, it’s safe to assume that…
5. You like history.
Yes, I do know this is just the opposite of one of the reasons I listed under why you should not take it. Yes, I do know that this should be a given. I just wanted to emphasize to those of you who might have been scared off by my blog, to not be scared. APUSH is just another class you’ll learn to love and hate. There are SO many subjects covered within this course that there will bound to be a section that interests you. Like wars? How sadistic! But you’ll love learning about all the grand battles in the Civil War and all the strategies in World War II. Like pop culture? The roaring 20’s (my favorite) and the 60’s will fascinate you. Like economics? The Great Depression sections won’t be depressing for you! Like answering ambiguous questions in unnecessarily-long paragraph format? YOU’LL FREAKING LOVE THIS CLASS.
What I’m trying to say is take this class to learn, realize that you will learn, and try your best to do well.
Also, remember that good sleep is better than good grades…
LOL jk. Good luck darlings and pray that I didn’t fail the AP exam. Otherwise this blog would make me look awful silly.*
Your beloved blogger and former APUSH student,
*I am updating this blog two years after I wrote it; it has become obvious that this is my most popular post thanks to all you apprehensive high-school students. You’re all darling. Anyway, if it helps you at all in deciding whether I’m a reliable source or not, I got a 4 on the exam. I later took AP Calc and AP Psych my senior year. If you would like to hear (read) more about those feel free to drop a comment down below.