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AP US History short answer example 1

KA's US history fellow Kim Kutz explains how to approach the short answer section on the AP US History exam.

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Video transcript

- [Voiceover] So this video is about the short answer section on the AP U.S. history exam. So this is a real practice problem from the AP exam and I'd like to go through it step-by-step with you to give you an idea of how to approach these problems really well. So each of the short answer problems is three questions long and they all discuss one facet of American history. And so your job in these questions is not to try to write an essay, but merely to just answer A, B, and C, which will be related to each other, and you have about the front of one blue book page to do this, so really no more than 200 words. And what's great about these is that there are many right answers. They're asking you to display your knowledge about a topic in the past, but what parts of that knowledge you display is up to you. So that means you can really play to your strengths. Bring up the thing that you know. You don't have to worry about knowing everything. Just enough to answer a few questions. So let's read this question and we're gonna read it really carefully, which you'll see is important for a number of reasons. So answer A. B, and C. A, "Briefly explain one example of how contact "between Native Americans and Europeans "brought changes to Native American societies "in the period 1492 to 1700." Now this is really important. Making sure that you know the date range that you're being asked to write about is really key to giving a good answer because we could talk about Native American history in American society really right up to the present, so 1700 is our end date. B, "Briefly explain a second example of how contact "between Native Americans and Europeans "brought changes to Native American societies "in the same period." And C, "Briefly explain one example of how "Native American societies resisted change "brought by contact with Europeans in the same period." All right, so basically what we're being asked here is to give two examples of change and one example of resistance to that change. Now the way I see it, we have one really important stricture like I mentioned already, which is that we can only talk about the period in-between European contact and the year 1700. So that means a lot of things that you might want to be talking about from the 1800s and 1900s you can't here, because you won't get credit for it. So we're talking about the period long before the American Revolution, long before even the French and Indian War, Seven Years' War. So this is really early contact. But the question actually doesn't give any strictures about societies, so we could talk about Native Americans in North America at large, we could talk about Native Americans in Jamestown, or we could talk about Native Americans in Mexico. We could talk about Native Americans and the French in the Northwest Territories, so our geography is really broad here. It's our timeline that's relatively short. So let's brainstorm what we could talk about for answers A or B. Well, we could mention, I think an excellent example would be disease. Native Americans experienced an epidemic of disease related to pathogens brought over by Europeans, so you could talk about disease really reshaped society, particularly there were morning wars in the Northeast, where Native Americans would raid New England settlements trying to find replacements for the people who had died in disease. You could also talk about trade and for example horses might be a good example of this. The Spanish brought horses to the New World, which completely changed the form of transportation and wealth for a lot of Native American societies on the Great Plains. What else could we talk about? Well, we could also mention labor. The Spanish tried to implement a system of encomienda labor, which would grant land to the Spanish for Native Americans to labor upon in a system of slavery. You might also talk about gender roles and intermarriage between Native Americans and Europeans which changed racial patterns and created new racial caste systems and also changed the way that women were often viewed in Native American societies, often resulting in them having less power than they did before the Europeans arrived. When you're thinking about how to answer these types of questions, one of the most useful things you can do is think about race, class and gender. These are things that historians think about all the time, and what they mean by these things is to say how does a certain issue affect say white people differently than it might affect black people? Or Native American people differently than it might affect Europeans? Or does this affect rich people more than it affects poor people? And that might also include people who own a factory, for example, versus the people who work in a factory or labor in a factory. And lastly, you might think about whether something affects men or women differently or people of different gender expressions or sexualities. So if you're stuck on what to write, take some time to think about how a certain event may have affected anyone in these three groups differently than another group. All right, so we answered the first two questions, and you'll see that any one of these is a perfectly appropriate answer and you only have to talk about one for each. And for each of these I would really only just write one sentence. Make sure that that sentence gets at the heart of what it is that you're trying to say. For example, don't just write, "Disease," but rather write a sentence that says, "The introduction of pathogens brought "from the Old World to the New affected "Native American societies by drastically "reducing their populations and their settlement patterns." All right, let's pause here for now and in the next video we'll tackle part C.