Skills & Habits of Successful APUSH Students


Below are the skills and habits that students will need to succeed in AP US History.  Further developing these skills and habits is a goal of the class, but it is expected that you have already made significant progress in these areas.  If you find yourself deficient in any one of these areas, you might want to reconsider placement. With any situation, students lacking in certain areas but willing to work and improve will find a most supportive teacher, but students unable and more importantly unwilling to work and improve will be actively encouraged to find another placement.


· Attendance:  Regular attendance is an absolute necessity, as class discussions and lectures will cover material not easily found elsewhere.  Absences for school-related activities is expected among advanced students, but it is the responsibility of the student, not the teacher, to make arrangements for work to be turned in and notes to be obtained.  Students with major commitments that will require extensive, prolonged absences should rethink their enrollment in AP US History.

· Participation:  A successful class depends on student participation to bring in diverse ideas, interpretations and questions.  Additionally, a student’s individual grade will depend in part on his/her personal participation.  Contributions need not be earth-shattering, but they must be regular and substantive.

· Homework:  Students should expect to have homework on a daily basis.  It is understood that students learn in many different ways, and a variety of assignments will be incorporated into the course.  But students considering enrolling should understand that APUSH is a reading- and writing-intensive course. Exams:  Tests in APUSH are quite rigorous, consisting of multiple choice, short answer, and essay questions.  Exams will assess students’ factual and analytical mastery of the material.  Every unit will end with an exam, usually one every two weeks, and these exams will be reflective of the AP Exam students may take in the spring.

· Reading:  Students must be able to read quickly and with understanding both primary sources and analytical, secondary sources. Students should be able to read for the main idea while culling appropriate factual information.  A textbook will serve as the main reading, but it will be supplemented regularly with mandatory outside readings. Students can expect to regularly read 70 pages of textbook material a week as well as primary sources and supplementary readings.

· Note-taking:  Students should be prepared to take notes on everything!  Only a slight exaggeration, notes on readings and lectures are a necessity, and they will also serve as assignments throughout the course.  The fast pace of APUSH and the complexity of the material make it absolutely essential that students utilize a method for organizing the large quantity of content that must be mastered in APUSH.

· Writing:  APUSH builds on the analytical skills developed in Honors Western Civilization.  Students will be expected to effectively communicate their ideas in writing.  Formal papers, take-home essays, and timed essays will all be utilized.  Papers will be assessed based on factual content, analytical depth and breadth, as well as the focus correction areas being addressed.  Most students will find writing the most challenging portion of the course, as everything will be assessed at a higher level.

Personal Academic & Intellectual Responsibility:  The Essential APUSH Quality


APUSH is not specifically required for graduation.  Students who take APUSH are doing so because they seek the challenge and take on the responsibility – those who signed up for any other reason are strongly encouraged to reconsider Advanced Placement.  APUSH students understand that much is to be gained if much effort and energy is expended.  APUSH students and parents understand that the upcoming year will be filled with challenges, crises, controversies, but most importantly great reward.  They also understand that success will require a great deal of personal responsibility and initiative.  Students will be provided with many tools and opportunities to succeed, but they must choose to take advantage of them.  As such, the final and most important expectation of APUSH:

· Unassigned Work:  Students are responsible for their own intellectual and academic development.  While the assignments and projects in APUSH are designed to assist in that development, a great deal of the most important tasks will never be assigned for points.  Students will rarely, if ever, be assigned chapter notes, unit vocabulary or online quizzes, but all of these tools will be available to students.  It will be up to each individual to determine the study habits that will lead to success in APUSH and utilize them to achieve the desired results on quizzes, tests, semester grades and the AP Exam.





Your signature indicates that you have read and understand the criteria needed to succeed in an advanced placement history class. If you have any concerns or questions please contact me.




Wendy Mercurio

Social Studies Department

Litchfield High School




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Source: Criteria adapted from Northstar National APUSH standards.