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AP History Disciplinary Practices and Reasoning Skills

The tables below present the disciplinary practices and reasoning skills that students should develop in all AP history courses, and describe what students should be able to do with each practice or skill. Every AP history exam question will assess one or more of these practices and skills.

Students best develop these practices and skills by investigating the past through the exploration and interpretation of a rich array of primary sources and secondary texts and through the regular development of historical argumentation in writing.

AP History Disciplinary Practices

Practice 1: Analyzing Historical Evidence

Practice 2: Argument Development

Students will be assessed on their ability to…

Primary Sources

  • Describe historically relevant information and/or arguments within a source.
  • Explain how a source provides information about the broader historical setting within which it was created.
  • Explain how a source’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience might affect a source’s meaning.
  • Explain the relative historical significance of a source’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience.
  • Evaluate a source’s credibility and/or limitations.

Secondary Sources

  • Describe the claim or argument of a secondary source, as well as the evidence used.
  • Describe a pattern or trend in quantitative data in non-text-based sources.
  • Explain how a historian’s claim or argument is supported with evidence.
  • Explain how a historian’s context influences the claim or argument.
  • Analyze patterns and trends in quantitative data in non-text-based sources.
  • Evaluate the effectiveness of a historical claim or argument.

 

  • Make a historically defensible claim in the form of an evaluative thesis.
  • Support an argument using specific and relevant evidence.
  • Use historical reasoning to explain relationships among pieces of historical evidence.
  • Consider ways that diverse or alternative evidence could be used to qualify or modify an argument.

AP History Reasoning Skills

Skill 1: Contextualization

Skill 2: Comparison

Skill 3: Causation

Skill 4: Continuity and Change Over Time

Describe an accurate historical context for a specific historical development or process.

Describe similarities and/or differences between different historical developments or processes.

Describe causes or effects of a specific historical development or process.

Describe patterns of continuity and/or change over time.

Explain how a relevant context influenced a specific historical development or process.

Explain relevant similarities and/or differences between specific historical developments and processes.

Explain the relationship between causes and effects of a specific historical development or process.

Explain the difference between primary and secondary causes, and between short- and long-term effects.

Explain patterns of continuity and/or change over time.

Use context to explain the relative historical significance of a specific historical development or process.

Explain the relative historical significance of similarities and/or differences between different historical developments or processes.

Explain the relative historical significance of different causes and/or effects.

Explain the relative historical significance of specific historical developments in relation to a larger pattern of continuity and/or change.

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