What Is the LEQ APUSH Section?
The LEQ APUSH section (a.k.a. the long essay question section) is worth 15% of your overall score. It asks you to choose one of two prompts. Then, you need to write a solid essay within the 35 allotted minutes. The essay should demonstrate one of the historical thinking skills. Here are the 6 best ways that you can prepare in order to ace the LEQ APUSH section.
1. Dissect the Question
Start by analyzing the question. Find out what the question is asking you to do. You need to make sure that you answer every part of it.
Go through the question and circle all the directive words, such as analyze, compare/contrast, or assess.
There may be a few trick directives in the question. These are there to distract you from the topics you really need to address. Pay attention, and read closely to determine what the question is really asking you to answer.
2. Craft a Solid Thesis
One of the most important parts of any essay is the thesis. Why? Because it is the outline to your paper. Your thesis tells the reader what your stance is on the issue, what you’re going to compare and contrast, etc. Then, it tells the reader which supporting details you will discuss further.
Practice crafting a thesis that won’t just reiterate the question. Be prepared to answer every part of the question, with relevant evidence to support your ideas.
3. Create an Outline
Once you have your thesis, you have a pretty good idea of what you’re going to discuss throughout your essay. Take a minute to brainstorm ideas. It could be a cluster, bulleted list, or other way to get your ideas on paper.
Then, jot down an outline with a few notes to remind you what you want to include in each paragraph. Refer to your outline while writing the essay. This will allow you to attack the question methodically to help you earn more points.
4. Use Historical Lingo
Since your essay should prove to graders that you know what you’re talking about, try to use as much historical lingo as possible. Of course, you need to use it correctly. Study the vocabulary so you can speak as an expert on American history.
5. Make Connections
The paragraph before your conclusion should be used to make connections to a different historical period, geographical area, or theme. Don’t just make the comparison. Take some time to develop the idea, so you can describe the period (or theme, geographical area, etc.) and discuss why you chose it.
6. Practice Good Writing Techniques
Don’t simply spill all your good ideas on the paper. You need to use good writing techniques, and pay attention to your spelling, grammar, capitalization, and so on. Some of the common things to watch for include:
- Active voice (not passive voice)
- Past tense
- Third person
- Strong verbs
- Descriptive adjectives and adverbs
Refrain from using abbreviations, casual language, or a lot of fluff. Keep your essay concise as you answer the question.
As you work on these 6 things, practice writing solid essays for the LEQ APUSH section. Have a friend or teacher check your writing to help you determine what you can do to improve. You can also refer to the College Board’s LEQ scoring guidelines and commentary for examples that can guide your writing, and help you ace the LEQ APUSH section. Remember, practice makes perfect!