The 2008 AP United States History Exam

My students are relieved that the AP exam is over and overall are confident that they did extremely well.  While I am not a fan of the AP curriculum I do respect my students’ commitment to doing well on the test.  They work very hard throughout the year and if this is one way they can bring closure to the year than so be it.  Luckily for this particular class I nailed the Document-Based Question (DBQ), which was on the Vietnam War.  I was fairly confident that the question would be pulled from the 20th century given the last few exams.  We spent quite a bit of time on the Vietnam War and the period between 1960 and 1980 so I know there was a sigh of relief when they flipped that page in their test packet.  You will notice a heavy emphasis on social/cultural history which I have no problem with.  The questions cover a broad range of topics and provide a number of analytical entry points for students to work with.  While some people complain about my choice of a textbook there is no better source with which to prepare students given the content of the essay questions.  More importantly, it’s a damn good read.  Here are the questions beginning with the DBQ:

1. Analyze the ways in which the Vietnam War heightened social,
political, and economic tensions in the United States.  Focus your
answer on the period 1964 to 1975.

Documents: [A] Selection from Gulf of Tonkin Resolution (1964); [B]
Song by Country Joe and the Fish, "I-Feel-Like-I’m-Fixin’-To-Die"
(1965); [C] Speech by Martin Luther King (1967); [D] Cartoon, "Onward
and Upward" (19670; [E] Speech by Robert F. Kennedy (1968); [F] James
Fallows on his draft board experience (1969); [G] Richard Nixon address
to the nation (1969); [H] Speech by George McGovern (1972); [I]
Selection from War Powers Act (1973)

Free-Response Questions: Students choose one of the two in each section.

Part B

2. Early encounters between American Indians and European colonists led
to a variety of relationships among the different cultures.

Analyze how the actions taken by BOTH American Indians and European
colonists shaped those relationships in TWO of the following regions.
Confine your answer to the 1600s

[New England, Chesapeake, Spanish Southwest, New York and New France]

3. Analyze the impact of the market revolution (1815-1860) on the economies of TWO of the following regions.

[The Northeast, The Midwest, The South]

Part C

4. Following Reconstruction, many southern leaders promoted the idea of
a "New South."  To what extent was this "New South" a reality by the
time of the First World War?  In your answer be sure to address TWO of
the following.

[Economic development, Politics, Race Relations]

5. Presidential elections between 1928 and 1948 revealed major shifts
in political party loyalties.  Analyze both the reasons for these
changes and their consequences during this period.

Question: Given what you know about me, which two questions do you think my students chose to answer?

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