Causation (cause and/or effect), Continuity and Change Over Time



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WRITING AP HISTORY LONG ESSAYS Jay Harmon jharmon@houstonchristian.org

35 minutes, 15% of the total exam grade
Read This: There are four kinds of Long Essays: Comparison (similarities and differences), Causation (cause and/or effect), Continuity and Change Over Time, and Periodization, which can be about a Turning Point in history or a “Define the Era” question. You will be given two Long Essay topics. Pick one. Both essays will be the same type; for example, pick 1 of 2 Comparison essays, or 1 of 2 “Define the Era” essays .
The Long Essay requires you to present arguments on two sides of an issue and provide reasons why you choose one argument over the other. For example, a Define the Era prompt in European History could be, “Historians label much of the 18th century as the ‘Age of Reason’. To what extent is this an accurate description of this era in Europe?” You must argue—with specific examples--that this label is accurate, AND give counter-arguments against the label—with specific examples--and explain why one side is more accurate than the other.
It doesn’t matter which side you pick as long as you can back up your argument with specifics. The idea here is to show complexity in your thinking, and not write about history as a one-sided affair.
Long Essays are graded on a 6 point scale: Thesis (1 point); Address all parts of the question ( 1 point); Analysis: explaining WHY this or that happened (1 point); Specific Evidence that supports your thesis

(1 point for some evidence, 2 points for more evidence); Synthesis: Connect a similar event that happened in a different era or place (or provide an “anti-example”: “The opposite thing happened a hundred years later when….”), OR… art, literature, society, or economics of the era in question that connects to your discussion of the question. (1 point) But see the paragraph below if you’re taking AP US History!


Important: as of late 2016, only AP World and AP European Histories allow discussions of another discipline connected to the question to count as synthesis, such as art history or economics, and others.

See the latest “Rubrics for AP Histories” at http://apcentral.collegeboard.com/home
Below are “how to” guides for increasing your chances of success on the AP Long Essays
You must adapt these suggestions to fit THE terms of THE question.

1. Causation Essay (Causes and/or Effects of an event or movement, e.g.)
Paragraph 1: (Thesis): There were many causes (or effects) of (name the event). Causes (or effects) included (name 2). Perhaps the most important cause (or effect) was (name a 3rd cause/effect) because of its impact on history.
Paragraph 2: Define the event itself and put it in historical context: WHAT was the event? WHEN did it happen? WHO was involved? WHAT was its significance?
Paragraph 3: Discuss as many causes and/or effects of the event as you can think of. Name the MOST significant cause (and/or effect) and tell WHY it is so significant.
Paragraph 4: Discuss a similar/different event from another time or place in history. How was that cause (or effect) similar (“This also happened when….”) …OR…Discuss how literature, society, culture, the environment or economics of the era was part of the event. (note: this last sentence doesn’t apply to APUSH).
Paragraph 5: (2nd chance at thesis) Write a conclusion that summarizes all parts of the question, with specificity, like in your thesis but worded differently.

2. Comparison Long Essay Note: This essay may ask you to evaluate the significance of a person or event. In that case, offer examples showing great significance and lack of significance.
Paragraph 1: (thesis): There were many similarities and differences in (name the 2 things being compared).  For example, there were similarities in (provide an example or two) and differences in (provide an example or two). Perhaps the greatest (sim or diff) was (provide either a sim or a diff).
Paragraph 2: Perhaps the greatest similarity between (name the 2 things) was _______ because_______. Other similarities include (name as many similarities as you can think of). They were similar because _______.  
Paragraph 3: Perhaps the greatest difference between (name the 2 things) was _____because_____. Other differences include (discuss as many differences as you can think of). They were different because _______.  
Paragraph 4: Discuss a similar/different event from another time or place in history (“This also happened when….”)…OR…Discuss how literature, society, culture, the environment or economics of the era was part of the event. (note: this last sentence doesn’t apply to APUSH).
Paragraph 5

(2nd chance at Thesis) Conclude with a summary that accurately reflects all the terms of the question, with specificity.  In other words, re-write your thesis in another way.



3. Continuity and Change Over Time Long Essay
Paragraph 1: (thesis) “There were many continuities and changes in (insert the dates of the question)in (insert all tasks of the question). Continuities included (1 specific example) and changes were in (2 specific examples). “
Paragraph 2: Continuities in insert the terms of the question in this era included: discuss as many specific examples you can think of.  Perhaps the most important continuity was ______because_______. These remained the same over time because _________.  Provide as many relevant examples as possible
Paragraph 3: Changes in insert all tasks of the question in this era included: discuss as many specific examples you can think of.  Perhaps the greatest change was_____ because______. These changed over time because _________.  Provide as many relevant examples as possible
Paragraph 4: Discuss an event from another time or place in history that also changed or stayed the same…OR…Discuss how another field (literature, art, politics, society, religion, economics e.g.) of the era reflects a similarity or change that’s in your essay already. (note: this last sentence doesn’t apply to APUSH).

Paragraph 5: (2nd chance at Thesis) Conclude with a summary that accurately reflects all the terms of the question, with specificity.  In other words, re-write your thesis in another way.

4. Periodization: Turning Point Long Essay
This essay is kind of a CCOT and Comparison question at the same time. The basic structure of this essay is: society/government, etc., was like this until a turning point happened, and then society/government, etc. changed to that. Why did they change? But some things remained the same from one era to the next. Why did those continue?
Paragraph 1: (Thesis) “There were many reasons why the topic of the question (for example, a war) changed (society, government, etc). Some of these reasons were (a and b) but the greatest reason was (c). However, some things persisted, such as (d).” Include one sentence defining the turning point.
Paragraph 2: Set the stage before the turning point. What was (society, politics, economics, the environment—whatever the terms of the question are) like in the era just before? Link your examples only to the terms of the question. Provide as many specific examples as you can.
Paragraph 3: Discuss the turning point. What was it? How did it lead to changes in the next era? What was the greatest change in from one era to the next? WHY?
Paragraph 4: This paragraph argues AGAINST the Turning Point. What DIDN’T change from one era to the next? Provide as many examples as you can think of. WHY did some things stay the same, despite the Turning Point? AND: Compare this Turning Point to another Turning Point in history. (Must fit into your discipline—World, US or European History) OR… How did art or literature of the era reflect the T.P. or continuities in the era? (note: this last sentence doesn’t apply to APUSH).
Paragraph 5: (2nd chance at Thesis) Conclude with a summary that accurately reflects all the terms of the question, with specificity.  In other words, re-write your thesis in another way.
5. Periodization: “Define the Era” Long Essay

Like the “Turning Point” Long Essay, this is kind of a CCOT and Comparison question at the same time. The essay prompt will include an era—let’s say the Industrial Revolution. Discuss features that support the idea that there really was a revolution, and features that didn’t change, in other words, what wasn’t so revolutionary about this era. Pick a side: do you agree or not agree with the label of the era? WHY?


Paragraph 1: (Thesis): There were many reasons why the era of the question is correctly named, for example: (cite two examples), and he greatest reason why this era is aptly named is____. However, one could argue that this label is incorrect because _______.
Paragraph 2: Provide a definition of the era and briefly include why historians gave it that name.
Paragraph 3: Provide as many examples as you can think of that support the idea that this era is correctly labeled. Which example MOST supports the label of the era? WHY?
Paragraph 4: What evidence counters the idea that the era is correctly labeled? AND: Discuss another era that would be a better “fit” for the label given the era in the question. OR: How did art or literature of the era reflect or counter the name of the era? (note: this last sentence doesn’t apply to APUSH).

Paragraph 5: (2nd chance at Thesis) Conclude with a summary that accurately reflects all the terms of the question, with specificity.  In other words, re-write your thesis in another way.
Final Note: It is to your advantage to repeat THE terms of THE question throughout your essay.

For example, write “Turning Point” for a Turning Point essay. Don’t get fancy with synonyms for


“Turning Point”. This helps your essay reader target your arguments.

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