Jiin's AP History

Jiin's AP History

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This is the page of Jiin Baek, an experienced AP History instructor in Seoul, South Korea.

Anyone who is interested in taking one or more AP History courses is welcome!

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Why We Need to Focus on Reading the Textbook Closely:

There is no doubt that taking many AP courses is burdensome. Many students are confused between different concepts from different subjects. However, even such a miserable circumstance has a way out. Most students do not try to use their textbook actively. All they do is to listen to what the teacher is saying and to try to understand what they have written down throughout each class.

It is a valiant way of studying. Nevertheless, it lacks a comprehensive understanding of what the course delivers. Why don’t we sit down for a moment and read the textbook from the beginning till the end just like when we are reading a fine novel or an article like this one? Although it sounds inefficient, it will certainly allow you to get what you need to know for both GPA and the May exam.



As many of you know, this year's AP scores were released yesterday. I would like to congratulate those who got the score they expected. Personally, I am so glad that most of my students from all over the world got a 5 on AP History and AP Economics, the subjects I am teaching.

However, even if some of you did not get the score you wanted, don't be disappointed. You still have enough potential to achieve what you want to achieve before applying for colleges. There will always be other valuable opportunities--obviously including the next year's exam. Don't get too frustrated!



America enjoyed an unprecedented level of economic growth after the Civil War. It was possible thanks to the industrial innovations of many businesspeople, most notably John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie. However, such businesses were ruthless; they crushed competitors while squeezing workers. As more people complained of the corruptions in America, the Progressive Era started.


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The Reason Putin is Deeply Upset about Ukraine (Part II):

When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, the Russian society faced great chaos. Boris Yeltsin, the first president of today's Russian government, successfully prevent a coup by the former Soviet generals. However, he could not stabilize the Russian economy. Vladimir Putin, who became the next Russian president, more or less brought stability to Russia.

This is one reason so many Russian people support Putin after more than two decades of dictatorship. Another reason is related to his aggressive attitude to the West. Many Russian citizens miss the grandeur the Soviet Union presented to the rest of the world. Putin is one of those nationalists. Realizing this threat, the West did not dismantle NATO even after the Cold War.

Ukraine was part of the Soviet Union throughout the Cold War. This means that, from Putin and other jingoists' perspective, Ukraine should obey what the Russian government says. However, Ukraine did not want to be on the side of Russia after the Cold War. Ukraine wanted to have nuclear weapons to protect itself. The West, however, blocked Ukraine from having them.



The Reason Putin is Deeply Upset about Ukraine (Part I):

Most of the students who are taking one of the three AP History courses at school will now be dealing with the end of the Cold War. The Cold War is enormously important in all three AP History exams. Plus, it made Vladimir Putin not to stop his brutal war with Ukraine. To say the conclusion first, Putin thinks the world is still in the middle of the Cold War.

During the Cold War, the United States feared that the Soviet Union and its satellite states are right next to its allies in Western Europe. West Germany was especially dangerous in a sense that one of its major cities, West Berlin, is part of East Germany, a communist state. This is the reason the Berlin Wall encircling West Berlin became a symbol of the Cold War conflict.

America therefore established NATO to secure Europe. As NATO makes all member states to join the war once one of them is attacked by a non-member state, the communist bloc could not initiate a military action against Western Europe. The problem is that NATO still stands even after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991. This makes Putin deeply anxious.



How to Get a Decent Score on the LEQ Section:

One of the reasons students fear to take an AP History course is the two essays included in the May Exam. I understand the pressure being felt by those who haven't followed a strict rubric. Many well-written essays fail to get a good score as they do not include what's required. Time is another issue. You have to finish the LEQ within 40 minutes and the DBQ within 60 minutes (plus, students' cannot write down anything during the first 15 minutes). These apply to all AP History subjects.

However, producing an essay based on a not-so-complicated rubric is something worth trying. The most important benefit from the rubric for an LEQ is that you don't need to care about style. Although too many grammatical mistakes will be a problem, the only thing students must focus on is to lay out what they know about the question. The length of an essay is not so important as well. Once you include the necessary thesis and the supporting facts, you will not lose a point.

Before considering what's in the rubric, students must be familiar with the content (which is obvious). Regardless of the exam you take this May, you will understand what will be asked by an LEQ if you check five to ten different past papers (the FRQs are all on The College Board website). The topic does not change that much. Everything is related to what I've been emphasizing about each course. What's more, you choose only one from three questions! Now is the time to practice for an LEQ.



Thinking about the AP U.S. History Course's Ultimate Objective:

America is the strongest country in the world. America influences politics, culture, economy, and security of numerous countries around the world. This is the first reason we study AP U.S. History. Students must understand how America got here; America rose to power after the First World War. Western Europe, which was competing with America, nearly perished after the Second World War.

Another reason America is important is that it is the first country to adopt a republican political system, i.e., a government without a monarch. Today, there are only a few countries with a stable monarchy. This means that America has been a pioneer in the development of political system. Things like the Constitution and the Bill of Rights are enormously crucial in getting a good score on the APUSH exam.

These are not the end of the story, however. The American society, while it seems vibrant and prosperous, contains many problems such as racial discrimination and gender equality. Many questions ask the test takers about how America achieved greater equality between the White Americans and the African Americans and between men and women during the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.



Thinking about the AP European History Course's Ultimate Objective:

Through the last post, I told you that globalization is the ultimate theme that dictates what's going to appear on the AP World History exam. The remaining question is: who started it? AP World History already says that the European countries, especially the Western European countries like the United Kingdom and France, led the wave of intercontinental interaction.

The AP European History course exists to investigate some of the essential features of globalization. Today, political and economic openness means westernization and europeanization. What does it mean to "be western?" Politically, it means moving towards democracy. AP European History discovers how civil revolutions could happen under those tyrannical governments.

Economically, it means leaning towards capitalism. Establishing a capitalist economy required many prerequisites; it was possible because of colonialism. It could happen because of technological innovations. These are the reasons that AP European History focuses on the Scientific Revolution and the resulting Industrial Revolution. Relate everything you learn to the two concepts.



Thinking about the AP World History Course's Ultimate Objective:

We take exams to demonstrate that we know about the things the exam asks. If you do not understand what each course truly requires, you will not get a good score even after putting a lot of efforts. This is especially true when it comes to the AP History courses; each AP History curriculum includes many seemingly random events, ideas, and figures. Students must follow the fundamental trend that binds all those things together.

What is that trend in case of AP World History: Modern? Globalization. We see a strong degree of interconnectedness hitherto unimagined (anyone in the world can read this post written in Seoul, South Korea). AP World History tracks why we could achieve such process of globalization relatively successfully. Everything you encounter during studying must therefore be interpreted through this lens.

Try to focus on how each country becomes closer with each other. Events such as the Mongolian Conquest, the Age of Exploration, and the 19th-century European imperialism are the things you must be familiar with. Note that virtually every LEQ and DBQ asks about the events that fostered globalization (Many students tend to focus on wars. Move your eyes to trade and colonization as well).



How to Interpret the Excerpts Correctly:

All three AP History courses force students to be familiar with diverse excerpts. For a long time, test takers could not get a good score on the DBQ section unless they are able to understand a considerable number of documents, paintings, and photos quickly. Starting from the 2014 AP Exam, the MCQs have also started to ask students what each excerpt means.

How should we approach these excerpts? As many of the excerpts come from speeches and writings, you must have a decent level of reading skills (which is also crucial in taking the SAT). That is not the end of the story, however. Some excerpts are so nuanced that even those who understood what they say cannot solve the related question correctly.

My recommendation is that you should focus on the description of each excerpt before trying to find out what the excerpt refers to. Find the author's information and the year the document was produced. You must use your valuable historical knowledge when analyzing the excerpts. This strategy is also effective when it comes to the paintings and photos.



The Significance of the SAQs on the AP History Exams:

After teaching several hundreds of students, I realized that so many students care too little about the SAQs on the AP History exam. Why? It is because the MCQs and the Essays are simply too daunting for most students. However, the SAQs can provide you with a great opportunity to improve your total score.

First, they are not so hard. Unlike the MCQs, the SAQs give students a relatively decent amount of time to solve (you can, of course, simply decide to use that extra time on the MCQs). Also, unlike the Essays, the SAQs do not require a long answer. All you need to do is to point out a specific argument from the excerpt or a historical situation related to the excerpt. This means that even a single sentence can give you a complete score.

Second, they are weighted in a more considerable way than you think. Their weight 20%, meaning that the SAQs are more important than the LEQ. Some students may say that the SAQs are still hard. Unfortunately, what I can assure you is that you feel the SAQs hard because you haven't studied enough. Read through the textbook you have. Try to understand the stream, not a tiny bit, of the whole curriculum.



This is the page of Jiin Baek, an experienced AP History instructor in Seoul, South Korea. Anyone who is interested in taking one or more AP History courses is welcome!

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