AP®︎ US History worked examples
AP US History long essay example 1
- [Voiceover] Okay, this video is about the long essay section on the AP U.S. History exam. Now you might also have heard this called the free response question or FRQ. I think it is officially called the long essay question, so that's what we're gonna go with for now. Now this is the last essay that you'll be writing on the AP exam, and you get 35 minutes to do it, which is considerably shorter than the DBQ section, but the nice part about this is that you don't have so spend so much time looking at all of those primary documents. The more challenging part, however, is that it's drawing on your own personal knowledge of the subject matter. So unlike the DBQ where you're analyzing documents and looking at just what's in front of you, here you're really using your own background understanding of U.S. history and also bringing up specific details to help you make an argument. So on this section of the exam you're gonna have the option to choose between two different essay prompts and you can choose which of them you want to write about. You only have to write about one. And of course, I recommend writing about the one where you feel most confident. Maybe it's about a topic that you like more or maybe it's a topic about what you feel like you can give more information, but in these cases always play to your strengths. So out of the two prompts that I was given there was one about whether the American Revolution was actually revolutionary, and then there was this question about whether the New Deal was actually new or whether it was more conservative in nature. Now I love the New Deal, so that is the question that I want to take on here. Plus I can remember a lot about the New Deal off the top of my head, so that's gonna give me a lot of extra information to work with. So of this 35 minutes that you have on the long essay question, I would recommend that you spend maybe five to 10 minutes of that and I think 10 minutes would really be max to plan your essay. To write a little outline for yourself, to decide what your thesis is going to be, and come up with a game plan that is gonna direct the rest of your writing time, which should be the rest of the time that you spend. The 25 to 30 minutes in this exam period. Now again, your mileage may vary on this. You might be the sort of person who can plan really fast and take a lot of time writing, or you might be the sort of person who knows that they can write pretty fast so they can spend some more time planning, but I think this is just kind of a good overall guideline for how you want to be spending your time. Okay, so once you've taken a look at each of the topics for the essay prompts and decided which one you want, the next step is to read the prompt itself really carefully. You want to make sure that there aren't any sort of hidden strictures in there that might direct what you are allowed to write about in the prompt and what you aren't allowed to write about in the prompt. Okay, so let's take a look at this question. "Some historians have argued that the New Deal "was ultimately conservative in nature. "Support, modify, or refute this interpretation, "providing specific evidence to justify your answer." Okay, so it seems like the heart of this is about whether the New Deal was conservative or radical. And I think in this context the word conservative doesn't mean politically conservative or right-leaning, but rather conservative as in the sense of keeping something that existed before. So were the ways of a society conserved over time or did they change over time? One thing I notice about this question is that it really doesn't give us much in the way of a specific timeframe to talk about. So it doesn't say talk about whether the New Deal was conservative or radical in the period between 1920 and 1940, it just asks us to say in the grand scheme of things do you think the New Deal was ultimately a conservative or radical movement. So that means if we want to we could actually talk about a lot of different things really up to the present. And it doesn't even say that we only have to talk about the United States. I mean, this is AP U.S. History, so the bases of everything you're writing has to be about American society, but there's nothing saying you can't compare American society to other nations in this time period. Okay, so our time scope is broad and even our geography is relatively broad. All right, so how do we decide what we're gonna write about? Well, I think it's given us three main options here. Can support this idea. So we could argue that yes the New Deal was conservative. We can refute and say no the New Deal was radical. It's not conservative at all. Or we can modify, which might take the form of saying oh, maybe it was both conservative and radical or maybe you even want to say this is not the right question to ask. So the modify option is kind of like a both or neither kind of way of looking at things. Now how do we decide which of these three arguments we want to make? I think one of the most useful things you can do at this stage is just make a list of things that you might want to talk about in this essay. So if we're thinking about the conservativeness or the radicalness of the New Deal, what sorts of things might we bring up? So first let's just refresh ourselves on what the New Deal was about. And the New Deal was this package of programs which were passed during the Great Depression by Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a means to try to restart the American economy. And people often talk about the New Deal kind of taking the three forms of relief, for people who are suffering, for people who need immediate aid. Recovery, to try to get the economy back on track. And reform. Ways to try to change laws, change the way the economy worked so that something like the Great Depression didn't happen again. And with the New Deal we often think about this kind of alphabet soup of agencies. There's the CCC, the Civilian Conservation Corps. There's the TVA, the Tennessee Valley Authority. There's the NRA, the National Recovery Administration. And the WPA, the Works Progress Administration. And these were all programs that were intended to get people back to work, to try to modernize the country, and to try to moderate relationships between workers and corporations. So what are some of the other things we know about the New Deal? Well, the New Deal was a reaction to the Great Depression, which was brought on by some irresponsible banking in the 1920s, a time of what was known as laissez-faire economics, which kind of said the government was to keep its hands out of the economy. Laissez-faire is French for let them do what they will, so let the economy do whatever it wants. Well, this all right came crashing down somewhat literally in 1929 with the stock market crash. And then for another three years the Depression continued to get worse and worse. Hoover had a largely hands-off approach to the Great Depression, and so he's creamed in the election of 1932 by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who promises that he's gonna get things back on track. And so Roosevelt had a really experimental response to the Great Depression. It was kind of a try something and see if it works approach. So he and his administration just kind of threw a lot of different experimental solutions at the problem to see what they could do about the Great Depression. But the other thing we know about the New Deal is that in the end it didn't really work. Now this was partly because the Supreme Court rolled back a lot of the New Deal programs saying that they weren't constitutional, which led FDR into his famous court packing scheme where he tried to add new justices to the Supreme Court, basically tilting it in his favor. And he failed at that. And the Depression continued to get worse throughout the end of the 1930s. It really wasn't until World War II that the mobilization for war, the American manufacturing for the war, got the United States out of the Great Depression. So I think it's clear that the New Deal was this really unique period in the United States when the government just tried whatever they could think of in order to try to improve the economy. But I think the question is if we think about the basic assumptions of the New Deal itself, were those radical or were they conservative? Okay, let's pause here to think about that a little bit more and in the next video we'll decide which way we want to lean and think about how to write that essay.
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