APUSH Course Notes

apush course notes

Your APUSH course is going to teach you more than just US History content. In addition to learning historical themes and material, you will also acquire skills in the art of note-taking. Expect to take plenty of course notes throughout the year. With an average of 40 chapters per textbook, APUSH teachers cover a lot of content. You get to record it all!

What are APUSH course notes?

APUSH course notes are your written record of what happened in class. They help you learn and remember the important facts/events/topics your teacher discusses each session. Your notes are a visual representation of your understanding of the course content. They include any questions or ideas you may have in your course notes.
The format of APUSH course notes can vary from class to class. How your teacher structures their class or how they set student expectations might change how you take notes. No matter what your chosen format, it is in your best interest to take quality course notes so that you can use them to help you review.

How to take course notes for APUSH

If you haven’t yet discovered an efficient way to take APUSH course notes, now is an excellent time to find a method that works for you. Before you take a look at some options below, do a quick evaluation of your current note-taking system. The evaluation guidelines from Stanford University can help point you in the right direction.
Already taking great APUSH course notes? Excellent. Skip ahead to the next section.
Found a few areas where your skills need some support? Check out some of the tips and strategies below to see if there is a method that better fits your learning style.

  • 1. Keep notes brief. Save complete sentences for your term paper. When taking notes, get the main idea down using as few words as possible. Also consider developing abbreviations and/or symbols to use while taking notes. This will save time in the long run.
  • 2. Keep things organized. Date your notes and add each lesson title at the top. Keep information and content material in sequential order. Break up information by starting each new topic on a separate line, and intending supporting details underneath.
  • 3. Leave some areas on the page blank. Skipping a line between text or leaving space between main ideas gives you room to go back and add information later. You can also use this space to write questions or insert special comments to remember later (like when you study!)
  • 4. Incorporate visuals. Changing the size of your writing or drawing a little doodle to help explain a concept can help big when review time comes around. These little visual “aids” clue your brain into important information.
  • 5. Highlight key terms and vocabulary. You don’t have to color-code your APUSH course notes (although if you have the time, this can be useful). Instead, think about “highlighting” like a visual marker – circling, outlining or starring – so that you can quickly find this information when reviewing your notes.

How to use APUSH course notes as a study tool

So you have all these course notes, now what? APUSH course notes can be a valuable study tool. Especially if your notes are clear and well organized. Even if your course notes are not quite up to par, it is still extremely beneficial to review your notes as you prepare for your upcoming exam.


The most common way to study using APUSH course notes is to review. Your course notes are chronological by class, making the information accessible and easy to go over. Don’t be afraid to skip around from one time period to the next – studies show that your brain recalls information better if you change things up a bit. So feel free to start one study session with World War II and end with the new republic.

  • Choose a topic, event, person, etc from your notes. Recite everything you can remember about that specific topic out loud. Better yet, find a friend and “teach” them about the topic.
  • Same as the idea above, but instead of reciting out loud, this time write it. You don’t have to write in complete sentences; just jot down as many details as you can supporting your chosen historical topic.
  • Have someone else ask you questions based on the information in your notes.


There are a variety of ways to format your existing notes into study-worthy material. Condense your voluminous notes into effective study material.

  • Cornell Method: good for learners who are able to ask thought-provoking questions about content, summarize information into a few sentences and prefer seeing one topic per page.
  • Outline Method: for learners who like well-organized course notes. Use of indents, numerals and subject titles make the outline method easy to read and review.
  • Mind-Map Method: great for visual learners, or for students who need help seeing the “connections” between historical relationships.


Always take time at the end of each study session to reflect on the information you reviewed. What content do you know well? What information do you need to review again? Using your APUSH course notes as a guide, highlight areas that need more attention the next time you study. Reflecting helps you monitor and track your progress so that you are ready to ace your APUSH exam!

Other ways to study

Using your APUSH course notes as a study tool is only one effective method of prepping for APUSH. There are many quality resources online, such as quizzes, practice tests and study strategies. Visit our Magoosh blogs for tips, APUSH resources and more!

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  • Beth Gonzales

    Beth is an educator and freelance creative designer who devises innovative and fun-loving solutions for clients. She works with families, students, teachers and small businesses to create and implement programs, campaigns and experiences that help support and maximize efforts to grow communities who critically think, engage and continue to learn.

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