AP US History: Practicing Information Synthesis

AP US History: Practicing Information Synthesis

If you’re in an AP US History class, you’re probably discussing the Vietnam War right now. Understanding the differences between the Vietnam War and previous conflicts will help you to synthesize the history of war and its impacts on American society. At Air Tutors, we’re sharing a series of interactive articles designed to help you prepare for the AP US History exam, and today, the topic is war.

Historical events are always multidimensional. Synthesis of historical information begins by thinking about the different dimensions involved in an event. Here’s a challenge: pull out a piece of paper or open a new document and write this question at the top: “What sorts of things should I know if I want to understand the causes and impacts of a war?”  Now, try to think of at least three things, write them in a bulleted list, and come back and keep reading once you’re done.

Okay, what did you write? I wrote these four questions:

  1. Who was it fought against, why, and how did it start?
  2. How did it impact Americans at home? (economically, politically, socially, etc.)
  3. How was it fought? (What were the main technologies used? What sorts of tactics were used?)
  4. Was there a clear winner? (Hint: most wars end with a treaty. When you study a war, make sure to learn about the treaty that ended it.)

These questions can now help us to synthesize the role war has played in American history. Here’s your study challenge for the day: answer my question #2 for the American Revolution, the Civil War, the First World War, the Second World War, and the Vietnam War. After you’re done, write a few short paragraphs that answer this question: How did the influences of 20th-century wars on American society differ from the influences of previous wars? Once you’ve identified a pattern, individual facts become easier to remember.

As you prepare for AP US History exam, use these questions as a “suitcase” for the war-related facts you want to bring with you on the exam. If you have any questions, set up an appointment with one of our AP US History tutors to learn more!

AP US History Exam: Don’t Just Memorize, Synthesize!

The AP US History exam can be daunting. If you’re preparing for it now, you’ve probably been reading, memorizing, and writing about American history all year. At Air Tutors, we’re dedicated to doing all we can to help you succeed in your classes. For the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing articles designed to help you prepare for your upcoming AP US History exam. As the test date comes closer and closer, it’s important to start synthesizing the information you’ve learned so far this year.

Information synthesis is a vital skill for studying, understanding, and writing about history. Synthesizing means joining or merging different ideas together. In terms of AP US History, it means observing patterns and trends in historical facts to build general stories about different themes in the American past. Without synthesizing historical information, each fact can seem random, unimportant, and easy to forget. Good synthesis helps on both the multiple choice and essay portions of the test because it aids in remembering individual facts and in writing good introductions and conclusions in your essays.

Think of synthesis like a suitcase. If you were going on a long trip, it would be ridiculous to try to carry all the clothes you want to bring in your arms. You wouldn’t be able to fit very much, and you’d probably lose lots of important items of clothing. If you prepare for the AP US History exam by trying to jam all the important facts into your mind, you won’t fit very many, and you’ll probably lose a lot of important information. Synthesizing information is like neatly folding your clothes into a suitcase: you can fit a lot more clothing, you won’t lose any, and it’s much easier to carry.

For history, we synthesize by telling general, thematic stories about the past. As you study for the AP History exam, don’t just memorize facts. For each fact you review, ask yourself: what other facts does it relate to? What story does it fit into? What role does it play in that story?

For the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing short study guides that will help you synthesize information to prepare for the AP US History exam. If you want to get a head start, contact one of our AP US History tutors today and set up a time to meet!