How to Survive APUSH

Book Cover of United States History Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination

Book Cover of United States History Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination

Mae Sergeant, Opinions Editor

One of the required classes for sophomores or juniors in high school is U.S. History but some students choose to take an AP version of this class which is considered one of the harder classes students at North could choose to take. For this reason, lots of students seem to struggle with it. Of course, there are ways that you could succeed in this class.

 To find the ways that students succeeded in the class, a few of the students that took the class and got a good score on the AP exam were interviewed. They were asked about their work ethic, whether or not it was difficult to balance school and extracurriculars and any extra tips they had.

 “My study ethic was just to make sure I completed the work that was assigned to me in class. And then, really the week before the exam, I made sure to review all the videos that are up,”  Junior Bibi Nami, who scored a 4 on an AP exam shared along with, “[…]if you want to be successful in APUSH you have to have good time management[…]once you’ve sat down to do your homework, you have to commit to it because otherwise, you’re not going to progress the learning you do outside of school.” She also stressed the importance of getting enough sleep each night and how it will be challenging for anyone to focus and retain information if they aren’t getting enough sleep. 

Junior Lilia Tomoff, who scored a 5 on the AP exam, expressed her belief in the importance of writing things down, “[…]being really thoughtful about picking exactly what the most important information is, and summarizing it, in my own words, really helped me learn the material and then I reviewed them sort of for the test, but mostly the act of writing everything down. I could just glance at it and remember what I’d written. Something else I definitely recommend is actually reading the book. It can be easy to fall behind and be like[…]well, I learned the topic, but actually sitting and reading the book is really helpful.” 

And of course, to get the most accurate representation of the best way to succeed in this class, Mr. Walter, the APUSH teacher, was interviewed as well. “If you put in the effort, I think you’re going [to] set yourself up for better situations. And a better chance if you have the content knowledge[…]Based off the basic scoring, the multiple-choice ends up having a lot of weight[…]it all comes to balance where if you struggle on some of the multiple-choice stuff, you can excel the writing and still get a passing score. So I would say building off your strengths and going with where your strengths are.” Mr. Walter, the APUSH teacher at North, explains.

 He also encourages students to read, watch videos, use outside resources, ask questions, and have conversations with other students about the contents of the lessons. 

“Schedule time to do the work. Schedule time to work on other classes. Schedule the time to enjoy life…nobody’s going to remember your AP score 30 years from now. So make sure that you learn how to be balanced and schedule yourself to be successful in all avenues of your education.”


APUSH may be a difficult class to succeed in but it is definitely not impossible. The main focus students should have is staying on top of the work- falling behind is the worst thing you can do for yourself in this class. Bibi Nami also expressed, “…a lot of sophomores who this probably is their first AP class, they’re feeling the pressure. And I just say, don’t put that unnecessary weight on yourself.”  But it is also important to remember that getting a bad score on the AP exam is not the end of the world, it is one silly little test.