History

Assess the Writing of Your AP World History Students with these Easy Prompt Options

Writing is an important component of the AP World History course. During the first week of school, you should aim to gauge your students’ writing ability. A writing sample will tell you a lot about how you need to approach writing instruction for DBQs and FRQs throughout the year. This can be tricky when you haven’t actually covered any content, but you can easily give an in-class history essay before you dive into the content of AP World History Modern!

AP World History writing prompt to assess student writing

I like to get a feel for my students’ writing ability within the very first week of school. In fact, on day one I give my AP World students a homework assignment that leads us to an in-class essay the next day. This helps set the tone for a rigorous year and gives me a writing sample.

Ask your students to pick any event in history that they feel they know. This is their homework assignment. If they don’t feel like they know any event particularly well, they should do a little reading on their chosen topic. They should come to class the next day feeling comfortable with the topic because they will need to write about it.

When students arrive to class the next day, display these two options for the in-class essay:

  • In what ways does this historical event continue to have an impact on the world today? What is its legacy?
  • Explain the causes of this historical event. Were some causes more significant or impactful than others?

I give my students about 25 minutes to write. It doesn’t need to be much longer than that in order to get a feel for your students’ writing. What’s great about these two particular choices is that they work with any historical event so you don’t need to wait until you’ve started covering any content. You also introduce some concepts that are important to AP World: Discussing causes and effects of events in history. Students will have to revisit these types of prompts frequently throughout the year just with more specific topics.

What Comes Next?

After this initial essay, I jump into the six themes of AP World, which are often abbreviated as SPICE-T.

  • Social
  • Political
  • Interactions with the Environment
  • Culture
  • Economics
  • Technology

I go through each theme and have students come up with examples for each one. You’ll want to stress how important it is to look at each topic you present with these themes in mind. I have a great tool for helping to teach the SPICE-T themes available here. Once you’ve gotten your writing sample and introduced these themes, it’s off to Unit 0!!

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