World History/Prologue

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For the ReadersEdit

There are several things that should be noted. First, you may want to just learn history and if so, still consider reading this page, as it will cover a great number of frequently asked questions and provide a good basis for the study of history. Secondly, is the standard on which this project was and is being developed. The AP World History Standard provides an outline of history as well as stipulations concerning the structure of any such project. As such, the text should be sufficient, if one knew most of it, to provide the reader with a strong possibility of getting at least a 3 on his or her AP World History Exam. However, the addition of sections relating to the writing of historical essays is not included. Multiple-choice type tests are planned for each section dealing with the kinds of analytical and "big-picture" questions likely to appear on an AP World History Exam. So without further ado, let the quest for knowledge begin!


The structure of this project is meant to divide the scope of world history into manageable chunks. However, the number of chapters may expand in the future. In addition to the chapters, some special sections exist to make history more interesting.

  •   This image denotes a section of special interest which would be nice to delve deeper into. It's probably something you're already familiar with, like the pyramids in Egypt.
  •   This image indicates a first-person narrative or commentary that we have. It puts issues in some context, and helps you understand how the people actually felt.
  •   This image shows a link to a non-fiction text on an event or period by an author who says it particularly well, such as Spielvogel might. Might also contain essays written by contributors on possible points of interest.

The Big PictureEdit

We define history as the study of the past. In order to study the past it is imperative to keep the big picture in mind. Don't let one thing completely capture your focus, for example, try not to become overly euro-centric. This will hurt your viewpoint and contaminate your understanding of history. Since one of our primary concerns was keeping the text in manageable portions, we couldn't put everything in so the layout of this text doesn't help to keep the big picture in mind. So, what can you do to keep the big picture in mind? Start with these tips:

  • Note the dates, don't just read them. They will tell you what cultures existed at the same time. Then comparing cultures will become much easier.
  • Make sure to know events outside of the Western Hemisphere. Try to become interested in civilizations, events or movements which occurred outside of Europe and the United States. Then you'll at least know something that doesn't have Western culture stamped all over it.
  • Note the changes in a time period not only in a culture or civilization, but across the world as a whole. How did things change and how did they stay the same?

Important TermsEdit

A few important terms will appear every now and then that you should know. Instead of going alphabetically, these are listed in sets of like terms.

  • Writing systems
    • Pictogram- The simplest form of writing, consists of picture symbols representing a word or phrase.
    • Ideogram- A symbol that depicts a thing or an idea, without expressing sound, e.g. @ or &.
    • Phonetic alphabet- A phonetic alphabet consists of a finite set of letters with each representing a sound.
  • Languages
    • Indo-European- Comprises the languages of Europe, and much of Iran, Pakistan and the Indian sub-continent.
      • Romance- Languages that are derived from Latin e.g. Spanish, Romanian
      • Germanic- Languages based on languages that developed near modern-day Germany, examples include German, English, and Dutch
      • Balto-Slavic- The languages of Eastern Europe and Russia that share Slavic sounds. Examples are Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish.
      • Albanian- A language that is spoken in Albania as well as Kosovo and far northwestern Greece.
      • Greek- The language of the Greeks
      • Uralic- A language group comprising of over 38 languages that are predominantly based in northern Eurasia. They include Hungarian ("Magyarian"), Finnish and Estonian.
    • Altaic- A controversial language grouping that is not accepted by all historical linguists
      • Turkish, Tatar, Azerbaijani, borrows from both Western and Eastern (primarily Arabic) sources
  • Culture words
    • Occidental- Another name for Western culture
    • Oriental- Another name for Eastern culture
  • Region words
    • Turkey (the nation today)
      • Asia Minor- What the Romans called this peninsula, used commonly in Roman times and the Middle Ages
      • Anatolia- What the Greeks called it, used predominantly in ancient times
    • Mesoamerica- Meaning middle-America, consisting of the Panama isthmus north to the area of Mexico just south of the Yucatán peninsula
    • Latin America- Central and South American nations, called because Spanish and Portuguese languages are heavily based on Latin
    • West Indies- A region of the Caribbean that includes Islands and the surrounding waters
    • East Indies- The groups of islands located in the Pacific Ocean in the southeast Asia region including Indonesia, Micronesia, Malaysia, and others.


The AP World History Standard has adopted the date system of using the terms C.E. for Common Era and B.C.E. for Before Common Era, which are respectively identical to the terms A.D. (anno domini, Latin for "In the year of our Lord") and B.C. (before Christ). In addition, if dates are given as "800 A.D" or "1950 B.C." then they are often a guess or approximation. These dates are almost universally preceded by the words "about" or "around", or "circa".

Also, the Julian calendar was in use throughout the Western world for much of history, until it was discovered that it had become over a week inaccurate. So, we switched to Gregorian calendar to correct the problem. Actually, in Russia it wasn't even introduced until Lenin took power; the October Revolution actually happened in November on the Gregorian calendar. So dates in the chapter The Russian Revolution might be a bit hazy before 1918.

For the "Historians"Edit

Some people might question our setup, layout, or the choice of included facts or they might find something wrong or in dispute. Great, we welcome suggestions and comments. And there's a place for it, on the World History discussion page. As for factual inaccuracies, etc., put them on the offending page's talk page, and we'll get to it as soon as we can (or see it). However, don't just criticize us, it's not constructive, and we don't care how you'd do it all that much, and this is the way we did it. So please don't just say the whole thing's stupid and we don't know what we're talking about. We'll probably have a few choice words to say back to you. Or maybe we'll just openly laugh and make fun of you. Either way you lose, and we win. So follow our Golden Rule, assume good faith and play nice. And now, on to World History...

The AP World History ExamEdit

Advanced Placement World History is a course offered by many high schools within the United States of America. The curriculum and course structure are determined by the College Board, a non-profit organization which develops all Advanced Placement (AP) exams. The course structure is in the area marked AP World History Standard.

The AP World History exam is comprised of 4 parts- 1A, 1B, 2A, and 2B. Refer to the AP World History Exam Format for this information. The multiple choice section will be graded by computer and the free- response questions will be graded by various teachers. The grade of the multiple choice section and the free response sections will be weighted and combined to give you an AP Exam score of 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5

Section 1- 1 Hour 45 MinutesEdit

1A- Multiple ChoiceEdit

The multiple choice section consists of similarly themed questions that will appear in sets of 2-5. These questions may be accompanied by primary or secondary sources, images, graphs, or maps. You will have 55 minutes to complete 55 questions. This will account for 40% of your exam score.

Note: As of the 2011 exam, no points are deducted for incorrect answers.

Strategies for this section:

  • Be definite- if you feel that an answer is wrong, assume it is and move on with the other answers: remember, your first, gut instinct is often correct.
  • Don't change answers often. Unless you come across information elsewhere in the test that indicates you were wrong in choosing your original answer, your first reaction is more likely to be correct than that given at second thought (such as in the previous strategy's situation).
  • Oftentimes there will be 2 answer choices that can be eliminated immediately leaving you will 2 possible choice, and thus a 50/50 chance.
  • Many answers are logical, and can be deduced even without prior knowledge the question's topic. Remember that the College Board exam writers want to write as logical a test as possible, it's in their natures to craft questions that may be guessed by attentive students.
  • Be mindful of your time. You may not finish all the questions. Hopefully your proctor will provide you with time updates, or better yet, a stop clock which lists remaining time. Don't spend too much time on a single question (a trite strategy, but still true).

1B- Short AnswerEdit

The short answer section consists of questions that will be answered by writing a paragraph. These will be accompanied by texts, images, graphs or maps. You will have 50 minutes to answer 4 questions. This will account for 20% of your exam score.

Strategies for this section:

  • Keep track of time- you want to finish all the questions before going back and revising them
  • Take a minute to plan your answers- if you write you answer without planning it, you might have to go back and revise it which will waste your time

Section 2- 1 Hour 30 MinutesEdit

2A- Document BasedEdit

The document based section consists of questions that will be answered by analyzing written texts, graphs or pictures. You will have 55 minutes (includes a 15-minute reading period) to answer 1 question. This will account for 25% of your exam score.

Strategies for this section:

  • Plan your essay- you don't want to waste more time by going back to revise it
  • Use evidence from the media given to you (texts, graphs, pictures) to support your answer

2B- Long EssayEdit

The long essay section consists of two questions. In this section you will have to pick one of these questions to answer and develop an argument using historical evidence. You will have 35 minutes to answer 1 question. This will account for 15% of your exam score.

Strategies for this section:

  • Plan your essay- this strategy is useful for all questions that include writing a response
  • Have a topic sentence and stay focused on it- don't stray off topic
  • Back up your topic sentence with historical evidence and specific events- e.g. supporting how government support of religion can help social order with the Hindu caste system and dharma
  • Elaborate on evidence- when giving evidence say why it supports your thesis


Below are some resources that you can use to learn more about how the test is formatted, graded or take. There are also some links to some helpful resources that you can use to practice.

Learn more about the examEdit

Course details

Exam details

Exam Details PDF


Exam practice