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Ap World History Comparison Essay Prompts For Sat

Need some free resources to help you prepare for the AP World History exam? This complete collection of AP World History practice tests has links to free multiple-choice questions designed for the complete AP World History curriculum, as well as real AP free-response questions and a full-length practice test. Read on to learn how to use these resources and to get links to hundreds of AP World History practice questions.

Important Note on the Recent AP World History Revision

Unfortunately for the state of AP World History practice exam resources, the AP World History Test was just revised for 2016-2017 (and underwent some minor changes during the 2017-2018 school year.) This means that there are very few resources available—official or unofficial—that are up-to-date and reflect the recent changes to the test.

This primarily affects the practice resources available for the free-response section, which has been substantially revised. Previously, the free-response section had three essay questions: a document-based question, a "continuity and change over time," essay, and a "comparative essay." Now there are only two essay questions: the DBQ, which has a new, substantially revised rubric, and the Long Essay Question (LEQ). For the LEQ you will be presented with two question options and write about one. With these changes, the free-response section now mirrors those of AP US History and AP European History, which were also recently revised. 

We've flagged everything you need to know about using practice resources in light of the revisions to the test in this article. 

 

How to Use These Resources

On the most basic level, you'll use these resources to get familiar with the format and feel of the AP test and to make sure you know the content necessary to succeed on the test. It's important to note, however, that there are two main categories of practice resources available: official College Board practice resources and unofficial resources. 

Official College Board resources are the most similar to the actual AP test. (Which makes sense, because they are the ones who write the test!) You'll use these to make sure you're comfortable with the test format and question style. 

Unofficial resources, however, are much more plentiful. The multiple-choice questions we link to come from two main places—textbook websites and study websites. While these resources are high quality, they won’t be exactly like the AP test. Some questions are easier; some are much harder. Some sections have true/false questions mixed in with multiple-choice while the AP test has only multiple-choice questions. Unofficial resources can be very helpful for studying, particularly for learning content, but official resources will give you the most accurate feel for what the AP test will actually be like. 

Next we'll go over official, College-Board created resources and how to use them best. Then we'll present the unofficial resources out there. 

 

Official Resources

There are two kinds of official College Board resources: sample multiple-choice questions, and free response questions (both current and in the old format). 

There is no official released practice test for AP World History. However, you could cobble one together by supplementing the practice questions from the current AP Course and Exam Description with additional multiple-choice questions from the 2011 AP Course and Exam Description (you'll need to use 26 of 30 to make it to the requisite 55). If you decide to do that to get the full exam experience, follow the section timing as laid out here (105 minutes for section I, and 90 minutes for section II). 

Otherwise, here are your options:

 

Official Multiple-Choice and Short Answer Questions

There are two places to get official multiple-choice questions:

You can use these to get a feel for the multiple choice and short answer portions of the test, or you can Macguyver a practice test as suggested above. If you do go with the practice test option, wait until at least March so that you know enough material to avoid being totally frustrated by the amount of material you don't know. 

 

Official Free-Response Questions

The new AP Course and Exam Description has an up-to-date practice DBQ and practice Long Essay. Even if you don't do a makeshift practice test with new and old course descriptions as suggested above, I strongly advise that you take a timed essay section using these questions by the beginning of April at the latest. This will give you enough time to see if you are really missing any essential skill areas you need to patch up before exam day.

Otherwise, there are tons and tons of old free-response questions available at the College Board website. However, they are all in the old format. This means that the only questions that will really be useful to you are the old DBQs—the new LEQ is too different from the other old essays for those to be very helpful. If you do use old DBQs, be sure to write your essay with the new rubric in mind as the requirements for a top score have changed. A major change, for example, is that you are no longer required to make document "groups." I advise also using the new rubric to grade your own essays as best you can—or, even better, get someone else to grade them!

While official resources are essential for getting a feel for the experience of taking the test, there aren't that many—so you'll need to supplement your studying with unofficial resources. 

 

Unofficial Resources

The unofficial resources we found are from two broad categories: study websites and textbook websites. Many of the quizzes from study websites are organized by AP theme and time period and contain mixed geographic areas, so these would be good unit review resources throughout the year and will also be helpful as you ramp up your studying for the exam in the spring.

Most of the quizzes from textbooks are organized by time period, so they can be used to check your mastery of certain historical eras (broken down by geographical area) as you learn about them in class. But don’t, for example, take every single test on ancient Greece when you first learn about it in August or September – save some for when you study in March and April so you can review (we have ten different quiz sources so you should have more than enough to practice with!).

For all multiple-choice questions, remember to practice process of elimination (eliminating answers you know are definitely wrong). Especially if you use the textbook websites, the questions could have a high level of specificity, and you’ll have to break them down by eliminating wrong answers. This is a key skill to build for the actual AP exam since the test questions will be slightly different than your teacher’s tests and your textbook’s quizzes, so you’ll need to be prepared to break them down using your existing knowledge base.

 

Often the wrong way is much easier to spot than the right way. 

 

Quizzes from Study Websites

Without further ado, here are the links to the various free study resources for AP World History. First up: quizzes from study websites!

 

Soft Schools 

These quizzes are super handy because they are focused by AP theme and time period (e.g. “Technological and Environmental Transformations, to 600 BCE”), and aren’t limited to one geographic area. This is a great resource for preparing for the AP multiple-choice section, which will jump between geographic areas and time periods.

 

Albert.io 

Like Soft Schools, Albert.io is a collection of quizzes by AP theme and time period. It also rates questions as “easy,” “moderate,” and “difficult,” to give you a sense of how deeply you understand the World History curriculum (if you’re getting a lot of the “difficults” correct, you’re definitely paying attention!).

 

Global Studies Review Page 

This has detailed multiple-choice quizzes organized by geographic area. Since this is not designed with the AP World History test in mind, this should be used as a resource to build your overall knowledge of specific regions (which will be necessary to do well on AP World History multiple-choice). I especially recommend checking this page out if there is a specific geographic area or time period you’re struggling with.

 

My Max Score Practice Test

Here's a full, unofficial practice test in the old format. Not much help for the free-response section, but a great multiple-choice question resource. The answer key even has explanations!

 

Textbook Chapter Quizzes

Before we get into the links to textbook quizzes, a quick word of advice: if your class’s textbook is not on here, your book might have online quizzes behind a paywall, so definitely check that possibility out!

But if your textbook is here and your teacher uses these textbook quizzes for class, use the other websites so you don’t step on his or her toes. (You wouldn’t want to be accused of cheating, even if the quizzes are readily available online.)

For all of these links, navigate to the chapter of the textbook with the content you want to study (whether that’s Ancient China or the Cold War). For some of the websites this is pretty straightforward, for others, it's a bit more complicated. For example, this is how to find the quizzes from Voyages in World History:

 

This is where you'll land after clicking on the link. In the drop-down menu, choose the chapter you want to focus on. In this particular menu, the chapters are just labeled by number and not title, so you need to click on them to see their content. 

For example, when I click on "Chapter 7" I see the focus of the chapter is the Roman Empire and rise of Christianity. Click on "ACE the Test" in the blue side-bar to get to the chapter quiz. 

Now just click on "ACE Practice Tests" to launch the quiz.

The quiz will open in a new window (so you may need to disable your pop-up blocker if you have one!). Answer away! 

The six textbooks listed below each contain between 25 and 30 chapters with very detailed multiple-choice quizzes, so there is tons of study material here. Again, these quizzes will be your go-to study resource as you cover different subjects in class and can also be used for more fine-tuned studying in the spring.

 

Key Takeaways

Because AP World History was just revised, there aren't that many up-to-date resources available. This primarily affects the practice questions available for the free-response section, since that's changed the most. 

There are both official College Board resources available to help you become familiar with the test format and feel, and unofficial resources to help you learn test content. You'll need to use a mix of both to succeed on the exam! But save most of the official resources for sometime in March or April when you know most of the material so you don't waste your limited official resources!

 

What’s Next?

Want to learn more about studying for AP World History? We have a detailed guide right here to plan out your studying over the whole school year.

AP World History is pretty challenging, but is it the hardest AP class you can take? Get our lists of the hardest and easiest AP classes to see where it stacks up.

Will you be taking the SAT or ACT soon? Not sure when to take the test? Learn the optimal time to take the SAT/ACT.

Need to study fast? Learn how to cram for the SAT/ACT in just 10 days.

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:

 

One of the best ways to prepare for the DBQ (the “document-based question” on the AP European History, AP US History, and AP World History exams) is to look over sample questions and example essays. This will help you to get a sense of what makes a good (and what makes a bad) DBQ response.

That said, not all DBQ essay examples are created equal. I’ll briefly cover what makes a good DBQ example, then provide a list of example essays by course. Lastly, I’ve provided some tips on how to best use sample essays in your own preparation process. 

 

What's a Good DBQ Example?

Without a doubt, the best sample resources come from the College Board. This is because they are the ones who design and administer the AP exams. This means that:

  • Any DBQ essay example that they provide will include a real DBQ prompt.

  • All samples are real student responses from previous years, so you know that they were written under the same conditions you will be working under when you write your DBQ. In other words, they're authentic!

  • They not only have scores, they have explanations of each essay's score according to the terms of the rubric.

  • Each prompt includes several sample essays with a variety of scores.

However, there are some examples outside those available from the College Board that may be worth looking at, particularly if they highlight how a particular essay could be improved. But in general, a superior example will:

  1. Include the prompt and documents. It will be much easier for you to see how the information from the documents is integrated into the essay if you can actually look at the documents.

  2. Have a score. Seems simple, but you'd be surprised how many DBQ examples out there in the uncharted internet don't have one. Without a real, official score, it's hard to gauge how trustworthy a sample actually is.

With that in mind, I have below compiled lists, organized by exam, of high-quality example DBQs. 

 

Don't spend all your study time sharpening your pencil.

 

Every DBQ Example Essay You Could Ever Need, by Exam

Here are your example essays! We'll start with AP US History, then move to AP European History, and finally wrap up with AP World History.

 

AP US History: Official College Board Examples

Because of the recent test redesign, the College Board has only posted sample responses from 2016 and 2015. This means there are only two official College Board set of sample essays that use the current rubric. 

Neither of these links include analysis (so you can look at the question separately from the scoring guidelines). When you're ready for the sample responses, here are the DBQ samples from 2015 and the samples from 2016.

If you want to see additional sample sets, you can also look at older College Board US History DBQ example response sets, all the way back to 2003. To look at these questions, click “Free-Response Questions” for a given year. For the corresponding DBQ examples and scoring guidelines, click “Sample Responses Q1.” 

Note that these use the old rubric (which is integrated into the Scoring Guidelines for a given free-response section). General comments about the quality of the essay, outside information, and document analysis still apply, but the score is on a nine-point scale instead of the new seven-point scale, and some of the particulars will be different. Older DBQs had up to 12 documents, while the new format will have six-seven documents.

If you do look at older DBQ examples, I recommend using the new rubric to “re-grade” the essays in the sample according to the new seven-scale score. I'll also give more advice on how to use all of these samples in your prep later on.

 

Mr. Bald Eagle is an AP US History DBQ Grader in his spare time.

 

AP European History: Official College Board Examples

Unfortunately, there aren't as many sample resources for the AP Euro DBQ compared to the other AP history tests because 2016 was the first year the AP Euro test was administered in the new format. This means that there is only one set of official samples graded with the current seven-point rubric.

The rest of the existing available samples were graded in the old, nine-point format instead of the seven-point format implemented this past year. 

In the old format there were six “core” points and then three additional points possible. The old rubric is integrated with the sample responses for each question, but I’ll highlight some key differences between the old and new formats:

  • In the old format, you were given a brief “historical background” section before the documents. 

  • There were more documents—up to twelve. The new format will have 6-7.

  • There was an emphasis on “grouping” the documents that is not present in the new rubric.

  • There was also an explicit emphasis on correctly interpreting the documents that is not found in the new rubric.

The essential components of the DBQ are still the same between the two formats, although you should definitely look at the new rubric if you look at any of the old AP European History samples. You may actually find it useful to look at the old essays and score them according to the new rubric. 

Samples by year:

You can get samples in the old format all the way back to 2003 from the College Board. (Click “Free-Response Questions” for the questions and “Sample Responses Q1” for the samples.)

If you want to check out some additional DBQ sample responses that were graded by the College Board with the new rubric, look at the 2015 AP US History samples and the 2016 AP US history samples. The content will of course be different, but the structure and scoring are the same as they will be for the AP Euro 2016 test.

 

AP European History: Unofficial Samples

Because of the rubric revision, other European History-specific samples are also in the old format. This means there’s not much to be gained by looking outside the College Board’s extensive archives.

However, the New York State Regents exam also has a DBQ on it. The format is not identical, and it is scored out of 5 under a different rubric, but I do like this European-History themed example from Regents Prep because it has highlighted sections that show where the documents are used versus where outside information is referenced. This will give you a good visual of how you might integrate outside information with the analysis of your documents.

 

Consider how you might integrate this castle into the DBQ that is your life.

 

AP World History: Official College Board Examples

The World History AP exam has just transitioned to a new format to more resemble AP US History and AP European History for the 2017 test. This means that all currently available samples were graded in the old, nine-point format instead of the seven-point format to be implemented this year.

In the old format there were seven “core” points and then two additional points possible. The old rubric is integrated with the sample responses for each question, but I’ll highlight some key differences between the old and new formats:

  • There were more documents—up to ten. The new format will have 6-7.

  • There was an emphasis on “grouping” the documents on the old rubric that is not present in the new rubric.

  • There was also an explicit emphasis on correctly interpreting the documents that is not found in the new rubric.

  • In the old rubric, you needed to identify one additional document that would aid in your analysis. The new rubric does not have this requirement.

The essential components of the DBQ are still the same between the two formats, although you should definitely look at the new rubric if you look at any of the old AP World History samples. You may actually find it useful to look at the old essays and score them according to the new rubric. 

For whatever reason the questions and the samples with scoring notes are completely separate documents for World History, so you’ll need to click separate links to get the question and documents and then the responses.

If you want to take a look at some DBQs that have been graded with the new rubric, you could check out the 2015 and 2016 samples from AP US History and the 2016 samples from AP European History. The historical content is different, but this will give you an idea of how the new rubric is implemented.  

 

Don't worry, the old format isn't as old as this guy right here.

 

How Should I Use DBQ Examples to Prepare?

So, now that you have all of these examples, what should you do with them? I'll go over some tips as to how you can use example DBQs in your own studying, including when to start using them and how many you should plan to review.

 

What Should I Do With These DBQs?

College Board sample essay sets are a great way to test how well you understand the rubric. This is why I recommend that you grade a sample set early on in your study process—maybe even before you've written a practice DBQ. 

Then, when you compare the scores you gave to the scores and scoring notes for the samples, you'll have a good idea of what parts of the rubric you don't really understand. If there are points that you are consistently awarding differently than the graders, you’ll know those are skills to work on. Keep giving points for the thesis and then finding out the sample didn't get those points? You'll know that you need to work on your thesis skills. Not giving points for historical context and then finding out the AP Grader gave full credit? You need to work on recognizing what constitutes historical context according to the AP. 

You can check out my tips on building specific rubric-based skills in my article on how to write a DBQ.

Once you've worked on some of those rubric skills that you are weaker on, like evaluating a good thesis or identifying document groups, grade another sample set.  This way you can see how your ability to grade the essays like an AP graderimproves over time! 

Obviously, grading sample exams is a much more difficult proposition when you are looking at examples in an old format (e.g. AP European History or AP World History samples).  The old scores as awarded by the College Board will be helpful in establishing a ballpark—obviously a 9 is still going to be a good essay under the 7-point scale—but there may be some modest differences in grades between the two scales. (Maybe that perfect 9 is now a 6 out of 7 due to rubric changes.)

For practice grading with old samples, you might want to pull out two copies of the new rubric, recruit a trusted study buddy or academic advisor (or even two study buddies!), and each re-grade the samples. 

Then, you can discuss any major differences in the grades you awarded. Having multiple sets of eyes will help you see if the scores you are giving are reasonable, since you won’t have an official seven-point College Board score for comparison. 

 

How Many Example DBQs Should I Be Using?

The answer to this question depends on your study plans! If it's six months before the exam and you plan on transforming yourself into a hard diamond of DBQ excellence, you might complete some practice grading on a sample set every few weeks to a month to check in on your progress towards thinking like an AP grader. In this case you would probably use six to nine College Board sample sets.

If, on the other hand, the exam is in a month and you are just trying to get in some skill-polishing, you might do a sample set every week to 10 days. It makes sense to check in on your skills more often when you have less time to study, because you want to be extra-sure that you are focusing your time on the skills that need the most work. So for a short time frame, expect to use somewhere in the range of three to four range College Board sample sets. 

Either way, you should be integrating your sample essay grading with skills practice, and doing some practice DBQ writing of your own.

Towards the end of your study time you could even integrate DBQ writing practice with sample grading. Read and complete a timed prompt, then grade the sample set for that prompt, including yours! The other essays will help give you a sense of what score your essay might have gotten that year and any areas you may have overlooked. 

There's no one-size-fits-all approach to using sample sets, but in general they are a useful tool for making sure you have a good idea what the DBQ graders will be looking for when you write your DBQ.

 

Hey, where can we find a good DBQ around here? 

 

Closing Thoughts on Example DBQs

Example DBQ essays are a valuable resource in your arsenal of study strategies for the AP History exams. Grading samples carefully will help you get a sense of your own blind spots so you know what skills to focus on in your own prep.

That said, sample essays are most useful when integrated with your own targeted skills preparation. Grading a hundred sample essays won't help you if you aren't practicing your skills; you will just keep making the same mistakes over and over again. And make sure you aren't using sample essays to avoid actually writing practice DBQs--you'll want to do at least a couple even if you only have a month to practice.

There you have it, folks. With this list of DBQ examples and tips on how to use them, you are all prepared to integrate samples into your study strategy!

 

What's Next?

Still not sure what a DBQ is? Check out my explanation of the DBQ.

Want tips on how to really dig in and study? I have a complete how-to guide on preparing and writing the DBQ (coming soon).

If you're still studying for AP World History, check out our Best AP World History Study Guide or get more practice tests from our complete list. 

Want more material for AP US History? Look into this article on the best notes to use for studying from one of our experts. Also check out her review of the best AP US History textbooks!

 

Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now: