Directions: Use the chart below to develop clear, focused statements comparing and contrasting each of the topics. Choose areas of comparison and contrast that you know you would be able to explain and discuss in an essay. For either the comparison or the contrast, you should have at least two focused statements. However, you will need, at minimum, one statement for the other (ex. 2 statements of comparison, 1 statement of contrast). Your statements of comparison and contrast will be used to create a thesis statement that serves as the basic answer (argument) for the prompt.
COMPOSING A COMPARE/CONTRAST THESIS STATEMENT: A strong thesis, or argument, is an essential part of every AP History essay answer. It should be stated at the end of your introductory paragraph as well as at the beginning of your conclusion paragraph. Many students seem to have difficulty taking a position necessary to build a strong argument. Some are afraid of making a mistake so write in very general terms. This needs to be avoided. But think of the nature of history. History does not offer the certitude of mathematics. Disagreement over the interpretation of historical evidence develops because of the limitations of the evidence available and the different perspective of both the historical participants and historians (you!). AP essay readers are looking for your ability to interpret the historical evidence and use historical support for that interpretation. To do this, we must begin with a thesis! Your thesis statement must do the following:
Let’s look at some examples and non-examples for a possible prompt…
Prompt: Compare Han China and Imperial Rome in terms of trade systems and social structures between 200 BCE and 500 CE.
Examples of poor thesis statements for this prompt:
“Between 200 BCE and 500 CE, Classical China and Imperial Rome had many similarities and differences.”
“Between 200 BCE and 500 CE, Classical China and Imperial Rome can be compared and contrasted in their social structures and trade systems.”
Between 200 BCE and 500 CE, Classical China and Imperial Rome both had social hierarchies and farmers, however, their trade systems were different and similar.”
Example of a strong thesis statement for this prompt:
“In both Han China and Imperial Rome, citizens who held government positions were the most respected in society. Both also held the view that patriarchal family structures were essential for a stable society. In terms of trade systems, both Han China and Imperial Rome shared a common trade connection along the Great Silk Road. However, Han China’s international economic power was much stronger than that of Imperial Rome as it had a favorable balance of international trade with other areas of Afroeurasia.”