AP Resources

Unit Dating System


Dates Associated

% of the CB Exam

Unit 1 *

Prehistory-600 CE


Unit 2

600 CE – 1450 CE


Unit 3

1450 CE – 1750 CE


Unit 4

1750 CE – 1914 CE


Unit 5

1914 CE – Present


* A few years ago college board decided to break Unit 1 into 2 separate units in which everything prior to 600 B.C.E. is a new unit. This shifts each of the units and makes it a 6 unit class. I personally find this awkward for a number of reasons and have decided not to change my system. If you are a student not in my class you may want to be careful of the differences.

AP Themes

The course requires students to analyze the causes and processes of continuity and change across historical periods through the following themes:

Interactions between humans & the environment.

Demography & disease


Patterns of settlement


Development & interaction of cultures


Belief systems, philosophies, & ideologies

Science & technology

The arts & architecture

State building, expansion, and conflict

Political structures & forms of governance


Nations & nationalism

Revolts & revolutions

Regional, transregional, & global structures & organizations

Creation, expansion, and interaction of economic systems

Agricultural & pastoral production

Trade & commerce

Labor systems


Capitalism & socialism

Development and transformation of social structures

Gender roles & relations

Family & kinship

Racial & ethnic constructions

Social & economic classes

Further Explanation

AP Themes In Your Life

The following chart has been developed by a handful of AP teachers in an effort to explain these themes more clearly. This connects the AP themes to the life of a student so that it might be a manner of explaining the concepts that students understand better. Please contemplate these questions for your own life and then attribute the connections you make to each of the chapters in this class.

Dynamics of change and continuity

How has your life changed, how has it stayed the same?  What caused the changes, and what were the processes or steps in that change?

Patterns and effects of interactions

How has struggle changed your life?  How has interaction with others, particularly outside your family, caused change or consideration of change?

Effects of technology, economics and demography

How has technology, economic shifts and demography affected re your family? Have you moved because a job? Or has technology changed the way your family lives life?

Systems of social structure and gender structure

How are roles and jobs distributed in your family?  How have they changed?  Why? How do these compare with other families, or other societies? How would you like them to be different? Why?

Cultural, intellectual and religious developments

Compare and contrast cultural, intellectual and religious development in you and/or your family’s life. What changed? Why? How?

Changes in functions and structures of state and attitudes toward states and political identities.

Politics is not just about national government structure, it is also about power. Describe the power organization within your family. How could it be different? What would be the advantages of that compared to the way it is?

Historical Thinking Skills


History is a sophisticated quest for meaning about the past, beyond the effort to collect information. Historical analysis requires familiarity with a great deal of information — names, chronology, facts, events and the like. Without reliable and detailed information, historical thinking is not possible. Yet historical analysis involves much more than the compilation and recall of data; it also requires several distinctive historical thinking skills.

The four historical thinking skills presented below, along with the description of the components of each skill, provide an essential framework for learning to think historically.

These descriptions are intended to facilitate coordination of the history curriculum at the secondary level to ensure that all AP history courses share a common understanding about historical thinking and that preceding courses lay the foundation in these historical thinking skills. The skills outlined below apply to the revised AP World History course and exam, and will apply to AP U.S. and European History when the course and exam changes for these subjects are implemented.

Crafting Historical Arguments from Historical Evidence

Historical Argumentation

Historical thinking involves the ability to define and frame a question about the past and to address that question through the construction of an argument. A plausible and persuasive argument requires a clear, comprehensive and analytical thesis, supported by relevant historical evidence — not simply evidence that supports a preferred or preconceived position. Additionally, argumentation involves the capacity to describe, analyze and evaluate the arguments of others in light of available evidence.

Appropriate Use of Relevant Historical Evidence

Historical thinking involves the ability to identify, describe and evaluate evidence about the past from diverse sources (including written documents, works of art, archaeological artifacts, oral traditions and other primary sources), with respect to content, authorship, purpose, format and audience. It involves the capacity to extract useful information, make supportable inferences and draw appropriate conclusions from historical evidence while also understanding such evidence in its context, recognizing its limitations and assessing the points of view that it reflects.

Chronological Reasoning

Historical Causation

Historical thinking involves the ability to identify, analyze and evaluate the relationships between multiple historical causes and effects, distinguishing between those that are long-term and proximate, and among coincidence, causation and correlation.

Patterns of Continuity and Change Over Time

Historical thinking involves the ability to recognize, analyze and evaluate the dynamics of historical continuity and change over periods of time of varying length, as well as relating these patterns to larger historical processes or themes.


Historical thinking involves the ability to describe, analyze, evaluate and construct models of historical periodization that historians use to categorize events into discrete blocks and to identify turning points, recognizing that the choice of specific dates favors one narrative, region or group over another narrative, region or group; therefore, changing the periodization can change a historical narrative. Moreover, the particular circumstances and contexts in which individual historians work and write shape their interpretations and modeling of past events.

Comparison and Contextualization


Historical thinking involves the ability to describe, compare and evaluate multiple historical developments within one society, one or more developments across or between different societies, and in various chronological and geographical contexts. It also involves the ability to identify, compare and evaluate multiple perspectives on a given historical experience.


Historical thinking involves the ability to connect historical developments to specific circumstances of time and place, and to broader regional, national or global processes.

Historical Interpretation and Synthesis


Historical thinking involves the ability to describe, analyze, evaluate and create diverse interpretations of the past — as revealed through primary and secondary historical sources — through analysis of evidence, reasoning, contexts, points of view and frames of reference.


Historical thinking involves the ability to arrive at meaningful and persuasive understandings of the past by applying all of the other historical thinking skills, by drawing appropriately on ideas from different fields of inquiry or disciplines, and by creatively fusing disparate, relevant (and perhaps contradictory) evidence from primary sources and secondary works. Additionally, synthesis may involve applying insights about the past to other historical contexts or circumstances, including the present.

More AP Resources