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Advanced Placement (AP)


AP World History is a challenging class, and in order to get credit for it you’ll have to take an equally challenging exam. And one of the toughest parts of the test is the AP World History document-based question, or AP World DBQ. This question asks you to read and analyze documents on the fly, then write an argumentative essay…all in one hour. 

It can be hard to know what–and how–to study for the AP World History DBQ, especially when you don’t know which documents you’ll receive on test day. But don’t worry: we’ll break down everything you need to know about the AP World History DBQ so you can ace it on test day. (We’ll even give you AP World History DBQ example questions and an AP World History DBQ rubric example!) 

Here’s what we’ll cover:

  • An explanation of what the AP World History DBQ is 
  • A look at how the DBQ works on the AP World History exam
  • A step-by-step process for tackling the AP World History DBQ
  • A guide to studying for and answering the AP World History DBQ

Let’s get going!


What Is an AP World History DBQ? 

The document-based question (DBQ) is a question on the AP World History exam in which you are given a selection of seven documents and are asked to write an essay that incorporates information from at least six of them in a coherent argument based on a given prompt.

In other words: you’ll be writing an essay on a topic and incorporating resources that you’re given on the day of the exam! 

The DBQ tests over a wide range of skills , like writing, organizing thoughts, making arguments, making connections between different perspectives, and having a knowledge of world history. Yeah, the DBQs are definitely tough! That’s why it’s important to understand what the DBQ APWH is and how to best tackle it. 

How DBQs Work on the AP World History Exam

The DBQ format AP World History uses consists of a single open-ended prompt , and will focus on the time period of 1450-2001 .

Of the two free response questions, one is a long essay (worth 15%) and one is a DBQ. This means that the sole DBQ is, by itself, worth 25% of your total grade, making it the single most heavily-weighted question on the AP World History exam.  

Here are some actual AP World History DBQ examples from previous years’ AP World History exams:

  • “Evaluate the extent to which economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920).” ( 2021 )
  • “Evaluate the extent to which the Portuguese transformed maritime trade in the Indian Ocean in the sixteenth century.” ( 2019 )
  • “Evaluate the extent to which railroads affected the process of empire-building in Afro-Eurasia between 1860 and 1918.” ( 2018 )

Of course, one of the things that makes AP DBQ questions unique is that you’ll be given seven documents to analyze as part of your essay response. Not only will you have to read and analyze these documents on exam day, you’ll have to include them as evidence in your essay to prove your argument! 

The seven documents you’ll receive will be a mixture of: 

  • Primary texts : texts that were actually written in the time period you’re being asked about 
  • Secondary texts : texts written by later historians that explain or interpret the time period 
  • Images: usually either political cartoons or artwork from the time period 

How many of each type of document you get varies by year, so you’ll need to be comfortable using all three types to support an essay-based argument. 

To answer the AP World History DBQ, you’ll have to read through all seven documents and write an argumentative essay that answers the prompt. So not only will you have to come up with an arguable point, you’ll have to prove that thesis using evidence contained in at least three of the seven documents. If you want to earn full credit for your DBQ, you’ll actually have to use six of the seven documents to support your position! 


Just like in a sport, understanding how to score points on your DBQ is key to doing well on your exam. 

Understand the AP World DBQ Rubric

First, y ou need to understand what the expectations are and how your answer will be graded. Doing this will help you figure out what you need to study and which skills you need to brush up on. It’ll also ensure that you know exactly what a great DBQ response requires so that you earn as many points as possible! 

The good news is that the College Board has provided the AP World History DBQ rubric 2021 as part of their 2021 AP World History: Modern Sample Student Responses and Scoring Commentary document. The AP World History DBQ rubric contains all the information you need to know about how your response will be scored. 

Here’s how the rubric breaks down:

Thesis (1 Point) 

First you’ll need to create a thesis that “responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis/claim that establishes a line of reasoning.” In order to get this point you’ll need to make an arguable claim based on the documents that answers the question of the prompt.  

Contextualization (1 Point) 

In order to get a point for contextualization you’ll need to “accurately describe a context relevant” to the time period covered by the prompt. What this means is that you’ll have to describe the political, social, or economic events and trends that contributed to the topic you’re writing about. 

Some of this you’ll know from the provided documents, but some of it you will also be expected to know based on what you’ve studied in AP World History class. You’ll also need to relate your knowledge to “broader historical events, developments, or processes that occur before, during, or continue after the time frame of the question.” In other words, you’ll have to show how the events of this time period are relevant now or how they are similar to some other historical situation.

Evidence (3 Points) 

This category assigns points based on how well you use the documents provided to you on the test. 

For this category, you get one of the potential three points solely for if you incorporate specific evidence that does not come from the provided documents in a way that is relevant to your thesis. 

However, in order to earn the other two points, you must support your argument by using even more evidence from the documents provided . If you use three to five documents, you’ll earn an additional point. If you integrate six or more documents in your response, you can earn up to two points…and full credit for this category!  

Just remember: You can’t just randomly throw information from the documents into your essay, though, you have to use it in a way that supports your argument and accurately represents what the documents are saying . 

Analysis and Reasoning (2 Points) 

For the analysis and reasoning section, you get one point for explaining “how or why the document’s point of view, purpose, historical situation, and/or audience is relevant to an argument,” and you get one point for “complexity,” showing that you understand the time period that the prompt covers and use evidence to prove your understanding and back up your argument . 

Here’s what that means: you’ll have to prove how the documents are relevant to your argument, and your argument has to show that you understand the period you’re writing about. Additionally, you’ll need to write an essay that proves your argument in a way that shows you understand that there are a variety of possible perspectives about that time period or issue, and that not everyone in that period had the same experiences. 


If all that sounds like a lot...that's because it is! But don't worry. We'll walk you through the steps you can take to get prepared for your DBQ.

5 Steps for Tackling an AP World History DBQ

The AP World History DBQ is a complicated question that tests you over several different skills, so there isn’t a simple technique to ace it. However, if you master each of the individual skills it takes to do well on the DBQ examples, you’ll set yourself up to write a successful DBQ! response! 

Here are five steps you can follow to prepare for–and tackle!--the AP World History DBQ. 

Step 1: Use Past AP World DBQ Prompts to Practice

Taking practice exams is a great way to prepare for any standardized test–including the AP World exam. Not only do you get a chance to test your knowledge, practice tests also give you the opportunity to familiarize yourself with the test format…which is really important when it comes to AP World DBQs.

There’s good news when it comes to AP World DBQ prompts, though. College Board’s website has the actual AP World DBQ prompts from 2002-2020 available to download. This means you can take almost 20 practice AP World History exams, as well as access AP World History DBQ example responses and AP World History DBQ rubrics, for free!  

It’s good to take one practice test before you start studying intensely for it because that will let you know where your skills are now (and it’ll let you track your progress). However, the nature of a free response means that it won’t be easy for you to grade by yourself. When it comes to assessing your response, use the AP World History DBQ rubric and honestly assess whether or not you incorporated the information thoroughly and accurately. If that doesn’t work for you, you can always ask a family member, tutor, or teacher to give you feedback on your response as well! 

Don’t be afraid to use multiple AP World DBQ prompts as part of your test prep strategy. The more DBQs you do, the better prepared you’ll be on test day! 

Step 2: Practice Creating a Thesis

A thesis statement is a sentence or two, located in your essay’s introduction, that explains what your essay will be about. In this case, your thesis will outline the argument you make in your AP World DBQ. 

The most important aspect of your thesis is that it has to make a claim that is both arguable and relevant to the prompt you’re given. However, you don’t want to just restate the prompt in your thesis! 

Here’s what we mean. Say you’re given the following prompt:

“Evaluate the extent to which economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920).” 

You don’t want your thesis to be “Economic factors led to the outbreak of the Mexican Revolution,” since that just restates the prompt without adding in your own argument. To write a great DBQ, you want to make a specific claim about how and why economic factors led to the Mexican Revolution, and you want to be able to use the AP World History DBQ documents provided to prove it!

Here are two AP World History DBQ examples that College Board considers acceptable theses for this prompt:

  • “Mexico’s inability to resist the political dominance of the United States and European powers was the most significant factor in leading to the revolution because foreign dominance prevented the Mexican government from enacting economic reforms.”
  • “Ethnic tensions were just as important in leading to the Mexican Revolution as economic factors because much of the economic exploitation that was occurring in Mexico affected poor indigenous communities.”

See how these two examples both make specific claims? The first argues that foreign influences prevented the Mexican government from enacting economic reforms. This is a claim that the author can prove by showing how foreign governments interfered with the Mexican government, and how that action led to reforms being stalled. 

The second AP World History DBQ example thesis addresses something more complex: how ethnic tensions led to economic exploitation. The author can then use the provided documents as evidence that poor indigenous communities were exploited, and can argue that those actions led to the Mexican Revolution.


Outlines take a little time, but they'll keep your DBQ from derailing. (Staying on topic is key!)

Step 3: Practice Creating an Outline

Remember the AP World History DBQ is timed, and you’ll only have one hour to complete it! To keep your writing organized and on track, it’s a good idea for you to create a quick outline before you jump into writing your essay. 

Having said that, you’ll need to be careful not to spend too much time on your outline so you have enough time to write your DBQ. That’s why we recommend spending 15 minutes reading documents, 5 minutes outlining your essay, and 40 minutes writing your response. 

The most important things that your outline will need are an introduction and conclusion ! Your introduction sets up your thesis while your conclusion restates your thesis and explains how it’s relevant to the reader in some way–perhaps by showing that a similar claim could be made about another time period, or that the effects of the thesis are still being felt today. 

Apart from your intro and conclusion, you’ll need body paragraphs. Since you only have about 45 minutes to write this essay, you don’t want too many of them. Three or four body paragraphs will be enough to make your argument. The most important thing about your body paragraphs is that each of them supports your argument and incorporates information from the documents!

To help you out, here is an example of a usable outline for the AP World History DBQ:

  • Set up your argument and include your thesis.
  • You can break down your thesis into several steps, which will then become the topics of each body paragraph
  • Tell the reader what they need to know about the historical situation. 
  • Include any information you might already know from outside the provided documents.
  • Make the first point you mentioned in your introduction.
  • Use information from the documents to illustrate and prove your point.
  • Include two or three documents that support your point 
  • Just like the previous paragraph, use two or three different documents to prove the second point of your thesis
  • If you make a third point in your thesis, explain it here using one or two different documents as evidence 
  • Restate your thesis and summarize the main points you’ve made.
  • Show how it’s relevant to the reader.

Your outline doesn’t need to be anything fancy–it just needs to give you an idea of how to structure your DBQ. Trust us: outlining might seem like a waste of time, but having a guide will make writing go much faster. 

Step 4: Practice Incorporating Quotes and References

As you write your essay, you’ll need to use examples from the documents provided–and each time you do, you’ll need to indicate which documents you pulled the information from . You’ll do this whether you are quoting your source or just paraphrasing it. 

Here are two attribution examples that College Board considers acceptable for the AP World History DBQ:

  • (Document 1): “The finance minister tells strikers that unemployment is the result of supply and demand and is out of the government’s hands, a position which probably increased people’s discontent with the government because they were unwilling to help.”
  • (Document 2): “The newspaper cartoon shows that the government was willing to use violence to put down popular protests against a rigged election system. Such oppressive government policies may have contributed to increased support for the eventual revolution.”

Note that both of these connect the contents of the document to the argument the author is trying to make. They don’t just paraphrase or quote the contents of the document for the sake of using them– you should use documents to support your argument!

Keep in mind that the College Board is pretty specific about how they want you to use AP World history DBQ documents. In the 2021 AP World History Scoring Guidelines rubric, College Board makes the point that you should “ describe and explain ” the contents of the document: By “describe'' they mean you should point out to your reader what about the document is relevant and illustrate it as if the reader did not have the document in front of them. 

From there, you’ll need to explain the document. That means you should use the document to show the reader why changes or situations in history have happened or why there is a relationship between two factors you’re writing about. 

Step 5: Understand Time Management

One of the most important skills you can acquire by taking multiple attempts at the AP World DBQ practice test will be time management. 

When you’re in the actual test environment, you won’t be able to use your phone to set a timer or alarm, so it’ll be difficult to keep track of how much time you’re spending on reading and re-reading the documents, brainstorming, and outlining. You want to leave yourself the majority of the time allowed (which will be one hour) for writing. 

College Board’s AP World History DBQ rubric recommends that you spend 15 minutes reading the documents and 45 minutes writing the essay . When you write your practice DBQs, be sure to use this format so you can get a feel for how much time you do (or don’t!) have for the question. Practicing with a timer is a great way to make sure you’re using your time wisely on test day! 


4 Tips for Studying for and Answering the AP World History DBQs

Now that you’ve read our step-by-step process for tackling the AP World History DBQ and have seen several AP World History DBQ examples, here are some expert tips on doing well on the AP World History DBQ . We’ve developed these tips based on the AP World History rubric to make sure you earn as many points as possible! 

Tip 1: Know Your Rubric

Go through the AP World History DBQ rubric 2021 and notice that it tells you exactly how to earn points in each category . Most categories are worth multiple points, so you need to know how to earn all the points possible. 

For example, the rubric is clear about how to earn points for your thesis statement. You’ll have to make sure that you have a thesis that states outright what argument you are trying to make if you want to earn credit for that category of the rubric! 

The scoring for the DBQ is pretty objective, and knowing exactly what the scorers are looking for will help you earn the most points possible.

Tip 2: Your Essay Can Contain Errors

In an AP World History DBQ, you’ll be able to make tiny errors and still be able to earn full credit for your response. 

Before you get too excited, there are big (and we mean big!) limits to this rule. For instance, you can’t misrepresent a document by saying an author makes one claim when they clearly aren’t. You also can’t write something that is obviously wrong, like that America continues under British rule because the revolution was unsuccessful! 

But you can make minor errors that don’t detract from your argument as long as you are demonstrating a knowledge of the time period and the ability to incorporate evidence to make an argument. So for example, you can make the mistake of saying that President Nixon’s impeachment hearings began in July 1974 (instead of May, when they actually began), and still earn full credit as long as you aren’t making an argument that depends on the accuracy of those dates.  

Tip 3: Write for Clarity 

One thing to keep in mind is that you’re graded on the quality of your argument and how well you prove it– you don’t get graded on how beautifully or fluently you write ! 

So, while you’ll want to use correct grammar and write as clearly as you can, don’t spend too much time making your writing beautiful. Instead, focus on clearly explaining your ideas! 

To this end, you won’t have points taken away for grammatical errors unless they make it difficult for the graders to see how you’ve used the evidence to make an argument. So while you want your writing to be as error-free as possible, it’s more important that you’re making your argument as clearly–and as persuasively–as possible. 

Tip 4: Write for Relevance

As you’re outlining and writing your AP World DBQ, ask yourself, why is this relevant to today’s readers? To earn a perfect score, you’ll have to tie your argument to another time period or historical situation. 

This is your chance to show that while the period you’re writing about may have been long in the past, the events are still relevant to us today ! This is why we read, write, and study history in the first place. So as you outline and write your DBQ, make sure you’re doing your best to show your reader why this historical moment or event is still important.


What’s Next? 

No matter what AP course you’re taking, you’ll want to have a study plan in place when it comes to exam time. This blog article can help you put together a prep strategy that works.

Not sure what a “good” AP test score is for AP World History? This list of the average AP test scores for every exam will help you understand how your scores stack up. 

Perfect test scores are great, but do you really need a perfect AP World History score? Our experts will explain the pros and cons of getting perfect 5s on your AP exams . 

Looking for help studying for your AP exam? Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Get matched with a top tutor who got a high score on the exam you're studying for!

Ashley Sufflé Robinson has a Ph.D. in 19th Century English Literature. As a content writer for PrepScholar, Ashley is passionate about giving college-bound students the in-depth information they need to get into the school of their dreams.

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AP® US History

Ensuring your students earn the contextualization point on the dbq.

  • The Albert Team
  • Last Updated On: March 1, 2022

Ensuring Your Students Earn the Contextualization Point on the DBQ

The redesign has brought a great deal of uncertainty and confusion amongst APUSH teachers.  In many ways, we are all “rookie” teachers, as all of us have the challenge of implementing fundamental curricular and skills-based changes into our classrooms.

One of the more significant changes is to the structure of one essay on the AP® exam, the Document Based question (DBQ).  The rubric for the DBQ was previously a more holistic essay that combined a strong thesis, and use of documents and outside information to support the argument.  This has been transformed into a much more structured and formulaic skills-based rubric.  The change has led to a healthy debate about the pros and cons of both types of essays, but in general the core of the essay has remained the same: write a thesis and support it with evidence in the form of documents and outside information.  If students continue to apply these basic writing skills, they are likely to earn 3 or 4 out of the seven total points for the Document Based Question .

In this post, we will explore one of these points students will be looking to earn to help their chances at passing the APUSH exam this May: the Contextualization point.

What is Contextualization?

According to the College Board, contextualization refers to a:

Historical thinking skill that involves the ability to connect historical events and processes to specific circumstances of time and place as well as broader regional, national, or global processes. ( College Board AP® Course and Exam Description, AP® US History, Fall 2015 )

Contextualization is a critical historical thinking skill that is featured in the newly redesigned course. In my opinion, this is a skill of fundamental importance for students to utilize in the classroom.  Often times, students find history difficult or boring because they don’t see connections between different historical time periods and the world they live in today.  They assume that events occur in a vacuum, and don’t realize that the historical context is critical in helping explain people’s beliefs and points of view in that period of time.  Putting events into context is something I always thought was important, but now that the College Board explicitly has established the skill, it has forced me to be more proactive in creating lessons and assignments that allow students to utilize this way of thinking.

The place that contextualization is most directly relevant on the actual AP® exam itself is the Document Based Question.  In order to earn the point for contextualization, students must:

Situate historical events, developments, or processes within the broader regional, national, or global context in which they occurred in order to draw conclusions about their relative significance. (College Board AP® Course and Exam Description, AP® US History, Fall 2015)

In other words, students are asked to provide background before jumping right into their thesis and essay and paint a picture of what is going on at the time of the prompt.  Although there is no specific requirement as to where contextualization should occur, it makes natural sense to place it in the introduction right before a thesis point.  Placing this historical background right at the beginning sets the stage for the argument that will occur in the body of the essay, and is consistent with expectations many English teachers have in how to write an introduction paragraph.

I explain contextualization to students by using the example of Star Wars.  Before the movie starts, the film begins with “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…” and continues with background information on the characters, events, and other information that is crucial to understanding the film.  Without this context, the viewer would not know what is going on, and might miss key events or be lost throughout the film.  This is what contextualization aims to do in student essays.  It sets the stage for their thesis, evidence, and argument that is to follow.

Contextualization vs. Historical Context

One aspect of the DBQ rubric that can be a bit confusing initially is that students are asked to do this contextualization, but there is also another area which gives them the option to use historical context.  So what is the difference?

Contextualization refers to putting the entire essay into a broader context (preferably in the introduction).  However, when writing their essays, students are also required to analyze four of the documents that they utilize by either examining the author’s point of view, describing the intended audience of the source, identifying the author’s purpose or putting the source into historical context. The latter sounds similar to contextualization (and it is essentially the same skill), but historical context is only focused on the specific document being analyzed, not the entire essay, like the contextualization point.  For example, if a document is a map that shows slavery growing dramatically from 1820 to 1860, a student might point out that this growth can be explained in the context of the development of the cotton gin, which made the production of cotton much more profitable and let to the spread of slavery in the Deep South.  While essentially the same skill, historical context focuses on one specific document’s background.

Examples of Successful Student Contextualization Points

One of the biggest pitfalls that prevent students from earning the contextualization point is that they are too brief or vague.  In general, it would be difficult for students to earn the point if they are writing only a sentence or two.  Early in the year, I assigned students a DBQ based on the following prompt:

Evaluate the extent in which the Civil War was a turning point in the lives of African Americans in the United States.  Use the documents and your knowledge of the years 1860-1877 to construct your response.

Reenactment of the Battle of Chancellorsville

This was the third DBQ we had written, and students were now getting brave enough to move beyond a thesis and document analysis and started attempting to tackle the contextualization point. However, the attempts were all over the map. One student wrote:

The Civil War was a bloody event that led to the death of thousands of Americans.

Of course this is a true statement, but is extremely vague.  What led to the Civil War?  Why was it so deadly?  Without any specific detail, this student could not earn the contextualization point.

Another student wrote:

Slavery had existed for hundreds of years in the United States.  It was a terrible thing that had to be abolished.

Again, this is a drive-by attempt at earning contextualization.  It mentions things that are true, but lacks any meaningful details or explanation that would demonstrate understanding of the time period in discussion.  What led to the beginning of slavery in the colonies?  How did it develop?  What made it so horrible?  How did individuals resist and protest slavery?  These are the types of details that would add meaning to contextualization.

One student nailed it.  She wrote:

The peculiar institution of slavery had been a part of America’s identity since the founding of the original English colony at Jamestown.  In the early years, compromise was key to avoiding the moral question, but as America entered the mid 19th century sectional tensions and crises with popular sovereignty, Kansas, and fugitive slaves made the issue increasingly unavoidable.  When the Civil War began, the war was transformed from one to simply save the Union to a battle for the future of slavery and freedom in the United States.

Now THAT is contextualization!  It gives specific details about the beginning of slavery and its development.  It discusses attempts at compromise, but increasing sectional tensions that led to the Civil War.  The writer paints a vivid and clear picture of the situation, events, and people that set the stage for the Civil War.  Students don’t want to write a 6-8 sentence paragraph (they will want to save time for their argument in the body), but they need to do more than write a vague sentence that superficially addresses the era.

Strategies for Teaching Contextualization to Students

Analyze Lots of Primary Sources One of the best ways to prepare for the DBQ is for students to practice reading and comprehending primary source texts, particularly texts that are written by people who use very different language and sentence structure from today.  This helps them understand and analyze documents, but it also can be helpful in practicing contextualization.  Looking at different perspectives and points of view in the actual historical time periods they are learning is key in allowing students to understand how the era can impact beliefs, values and events that occur.

Assign Many DBQ Assessments and Share Specific Examples The more often students write DBQs, the more comfortable students will get with the entire process and skill set involved, including contextualization.  One thing that has been especially successful in my classroom is to collect a handful of student attempts at the contextualization point and share them with students.  Students then get to examine them and look at effective and less effective attempts at earning contextualization.  Often the best way for students to learn what to do or how to improve is to see what their classmates have done.

Incorporating In-Class Activities The course is broken into nine distinct time periods from 1491 to present.  In each period or unit students are assigned activities that force them to put a specific policy, event, or movement into context.  For example, we did lecture notes on the presidency of JFK, learning about the Man on the Moon Speech, Cuban Missile Crisis, and creation of the Peace Corps.  Students had to write 3-4 sentences that asked them to put these events in historical context using the Cold War.  This allowed students to understand that each of these seemingly unrelated historical events were shaped by the tension between the United States and Soviet Union: winning the space race, stopping a communist nuclear threat less than 100 miles from Florida, and spreading goodwill into nations that might otherwise turn to communism all are strategies the United States used to thwart the Soviet threat.  By doing this activity, students gain an appreciation for how historical context shapes events and decisions of the day.

Cold War 2

Teach Cause and Effect in United States History It is very easy to get caught up as a teacher in how to best get lots of minutia and factoids into students heads quickly and efficiently.  However, if we can teach history not as a series of independent and unrelated events, but as a series of events that have a causal relationship that impact what happens next, this helps students grasp and understand contextualization.  For example, in the lead-up to World War I, students create a timeline of events that led to America entering the conflict.  As students examine the torpedoing of the Lusitania, unrestricted submarine warfare, the Zimmermann telegram, etc., they gain an understanding that it was not a random decision by President Wilson, but rather a series of events that precipitated the declaration of war.  This is what contextualization is: the background that sets the stage for a particular moment in American history.

Examine Contextualization with Current Events I know what you are thinking, I have one school year (less if your school year starts in September) to get through 1491 to Present and now I am supposed to make this a current events class as well?  The answer is yes and no.  Will stuff from the news pages be content the students need to know for the exam: absolutely not.  However, it is a great opportunity for students to understand that our past explains why our country is what it is today.

For example, President Obama’s decision to work towards normalizing relations with Cuba makes more sense if students think about it through the lens of contextualization.  The United States invaded Cuba in 1898 in the Spanish-American War and set up a protectorate.  Cubans, upset with what they perceived as U.S. meddling and intervention led a communist revolution in 1959, ousting the American-backed government and setting the stage for one of the scariest moments in the Cold War : the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Looking at how the past shapes current events today helps students understand this skill, and it also helps them gain a deeper appreciation of how important history is in shaping the world around them.

Obama signs FDA Food Safety Modernization Act

Any time changes happen, there is a temptation to be reactionary and reject them.  I have found that by being more deliberate about helping students understand historical context, their engagement and understanding have improved significantly.  Teachers always are fighting that battle between covering the content (which is daunting in an AP® course) and helping students understand the “so what?” question.  Why does this matter to me?  By making connections, students can see that history does not every happen in a vacuum.  Our shared narrative is a series of events and ideas that continuously evolve and build off of each other.  When students gain a firm understanding of how the past impacts their lives today, it makes learning way more meaningful and fun.

Contextualization is tough for students at first, but it is a skill application that can be perfected and improved to maximize your students’ chances of earning that point and rocking the AP® exam.

Looking for AP® US History practice?

Kickstart your AP® US History prep with Albert. Start your AP® exam prep today .

We also go over five-steps to writing effective FRQs for AP® US History in this video:

Ben Hubing

Ben Hubing is an educator at Greendale High School in Greendale, Wisconsin.  Ben has taught AP® U.S. History and AP® U.S. Government and Politics for the last eight years and was a reader last year for the AP® U.S. History Short Answer.  Ben earned his Bachelors degree at The University of Wisconsin-Madison and Masters degree at Cardinal Stritch University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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WWII soldiers posthumously receive Purple Heart medals nearly 80 years after fatal plane crash

May 11, 2024 / 4:52 PM EDT / CBS/AP

Five Hawaiian  men who served in a unit of Japanese-language linguists during World War II were recognized with posthumous Purple Heart medals nearly 80 years after their plane crashed in the final days of the conflict.

The men – Joseph Kuwada, Haruyuki Ikemoto, Kazuyoshi Inouye, Wilfred Motokane, and Masaru Sogi – were among 31 killed when their C-46 transport plane hit a cliff while attempting to land in Okinawa, Japan on Aug. 13, 1945. Army records indicate only two of the 31 received Purple Heart medals, which are awarded to service members wounded or killed during action against an enemy.

WWII-Purple Heart

The Purple Heart is the nation's oldest military medal, dating back to the time of George Washington. It has been awarded almost two million times.

Researchers in Hawaii and Minnesota recently discovered the omission, leading the Army to agree to issue medals to families of the 29 men who were never recognized. Researchers located families of the five from Hawaii, and now the Army is asking family members of the  other 24 men  to contact them so their loved ones can finally receive recognition.

"I don't have words. I'm just overwhelmed," Wilfred Ikemoto said as he choked up while speaking of the belated honor given to his older brother Haruyuki during a ceremony in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on Friday.

"I'm just happy that he got recognized," Ikemoto said.

The older Ikemoto was the fourth of 10 children and the first in his family to attend college when he enrolled at the University of Hawaii. He was a photographer and developed film in a makeshift darkroom in a bedroom at home.

"I remember him as probably the smartest and most talented in our family," said Wilfred Ikemoto, who was 10 years old when his brother died.

On board the plane were 12 paratroopers with the 11th Airborne Division, five soldiers in a Counter-intelligence Detachment assigned to the paratroopers, 10 Japanese American linguists in the Military Intelligence Service and four crew members.

They had all flown up from the Philippines to spearhead the occupation of Japan after Tokyo's surrender, said Daniel Matthews, who looked into the ill-fated flight while researching his father's postwar service in the 11th Airborne.

WWII-Purple Heart

Matthews attributed the Army's failure to recognize all 31 soldiers with medals to administrative oversight in the waning hours of the war. The U.S. had been preparing to invade Japan's main islands, but it formulated alternative plans after receiving indications Japan was getting ready to surrender. Complicating matters further, there were four different units on the plane.

Wilfred Motokane Jr. said he had mixed feelings after he accepted his father's medal.

"I'm very happy that we're finally recognizing some people," he said. "I think it took a long time for it to happen. That's the one part that I don't feel that good about, if you will."

The Hawaii five were all part of the Military Intelligence Service or MIS, a U.S. Army unit made up of mostly Japanese Americans who interrogated prisoners, translated intercepted messages and traveled behind enemy lines to gather intelligence.

They five had been inducted in January 1944 after the MIS, desperate to get more recruits, sent a team to Hawaii to find more linguists, historian Mark Matsunaga said.

Altogether some 6,000 served with the Military Intelligence Service. But much of their work has remained relatively unknown because it was classified until the 1970s.

During the U.S. occupation of Japan, they served crucial roles as liaisons between American and Japanese officials and overseeing regional governments.

WWII-Purple Heart

Retired Army Gen. Paul Nakasone, who recently stepped down as head of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, presented the medals to the families during the ceremony on the banks of Pearl Harbor. Nakasone's Hawaii-born father served in the MIS after the war, giving him a personal connection to the event.

"What these Military Intelligence Service soldiers brought to the occupation of Japan was an understanding of culture that could take what was the vanquished to work with the victor," Nakasone said. "I'm very proud of all the MIS soldiers not only during combat, but also during the occupation."

During his research, Matthews also located the niece of the senior officer aboard the plane, Capt. John H. Norton, of Marion, South Carolina. She will soon be presented the Purple Heart in honor of her uncle, a 1943 West Point graduate who led the counterintelligence team attached to the 11th Airborne Division.

He hopes the ceremony in Hawaii and the other in South Carolina will help other families pursue the Purple Hearts their loved ones earned with their service.

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Russia hits Ukraine’s power grid with a ‘massive’ attack on a day marking the WWII defeat of Nazism

At least two people were injured and 13 residential buildings damaged as a result of Russian attacks overnight in Kyiv region.

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, rescuers work at a damaged building after a Russian missile attack in Kyiv region, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP Photo)

In this photo provided by the Ukrainian Emergency Service, rescuers work at a damaged building after a Russian missile attack in Kyiv region, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (Ukrainian Emergency Service via AP Photo)

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Police experts inspect the site of a Russian missile attack, in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

A man looks at the debris of a car following a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

Ukrainian servicemen turn over a damaged car at the scene of a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

Flames burn in a crater following a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

A woman walks in front of a crater caused by a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

Police officers inspect a crater after a Russian missile attack in Zaporizhzhia, Ukraine, Wednesday, May 8, 2024. (AP Photo/Andriy Andriyenko)

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces unleashed a nighttime barrage of more than 50 cruise missiles and explosive drones at Ukraine’s power grid Wednesday, targeting a wide area in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called a “massive” attack on the day the country celebrates the defeat of Nazism in World War II.

The bombardment blasted targets in seven Ukrainian regions, including the Kyiv area and parts of the south and west, damaging homes and the country’s rail network, authorities said. Three people, including an 8-year-old girl, were injured, according to officials.

Russia has repeatedly pounded Ukraine’s energy infrastructure during the war that is stretching into its third year and has claimed thousands of lives. By taking out the power, the Kremlin’s forces aim to rob Ukrainian manufacturing of its energy supply, especially military plants, and crush public morale.

Russian attacks have damaged nearly half of Ukraine’s power infrastructure since the start of the Kremlin’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, officials say. The damage is estimated at $12.5 billion, with $1 billion inflicted during the past two weeks, according to the chairman of the Ukrainian Parliament’s Committee on Energy and Housing Services, Andrii Herus.

Ukrainian Anastasiya Sereda paints a canvas in an art class for women bereaved by war, in Kyiv, Ukraine, Sunday, April 28, 2024. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

The mass barrages also drain Ukrainian air defenses of ammunition as Kyiv’s depleted forces await delivery of the latest batch of promised Western military support . Ukrainian officials have been pleading for more NATO-standard air defense systems, such as Patriots.

Zelenskyy noted that Wednesday’s attacks occurred on the day that Ukraine observes the end of European fighting in World War II and equated Ukraine’s current struggle with that conflict, saying on social platform X that “only a united free world” can stop Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ukraine last year changed the date of the Day of Remembrance and Victory over Nazism to avoid it coinciding with Russia’s own Victory Day commemorations on May 9.

Russia pummeled Ukraine’s energy infrastructure during the “blackout winter” of 2022-23. In March, it launched a new wave of attacks, one of which completely destroyed the Trypilska power plant near Kyiv, one of the country’s biggest.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has framed the attacks as retaliation for Ukrainian long-range strikes on Russian oil refineries. On Wednesday, a Ukrainian attack hit an oil terminal, injuring five workers and starting a fire, Russia-appointed authorities in the partially occupied Luhansk region said.

Russian bombardments, though frequent, have become less regular in recent weeks, and Ukrainian officials suspect Moscow is stockpiling resources ahead of a major battlefield offensive that could come within weeks.

The 1,000-kilometer (600-mile) front line has changed little since the early months of the war, but Russia has recently made small but steady gains in some areas as Ukraine battles with a lack of manpower and a shortage of weapons.

National electrical grid operator Ukrenergo said facilities were hit in the Vinnytsia, Zaporizhzhia, Kirovohrad, Poltava and Ivano-Frankivsk regions.

Two energy facilities were hit in the Lviv region, which is in the country’s far west and distant from the fighting’s front lines, according to regional Gov. Maksym Kozytskyi.

DTEK, Ukraine’s biggest private energy supplier, said the attack “seriously damaged” equipment at three of its thermal power plants.

The attack was the fifth in the last six weeks targeting the company’s facilities, DTEK said. Overall, since the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion in February 2022, the company’s assets have come under attack nearly 180 times, injuring 51 workers and killing three, it said.

Russia launched 55 missiles and 21 Shahed drones overnight, the Ukrainian air force said. Air defenses downed 39 of the missiles and 20 of the drones, Ukrainian air force commander Mykola Oleshchuk said.

Russian forces also damaged the railway station building and train tracks in Kherson, national railway operator Ukrzaliznytsia said.

Also Wednesday, five people including three children were injured in an attack that struck an educational facility in northeastern Kharkiv, regional Gov. Oleh Syniehubov said on social media. City Mayor Ihor Terekhov said one of the children was in critical condition.

Follow AP’s coverage of the war in Ukraine at https://apnews.com/hub/russia-ukraine

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    KYIV, Ukraine (AP) — Russian forces unleashed a nighttime barrage of more than 50 cruise missiles and explosive drones at Ukraine's power grid Wednesday, targeting a wide area in what President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called a "massive" attack on the day the country celebrates the defeat of Nazism in World War II.