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How to write a good thesis for the AP World History Compare and Contrast essay?

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Mesopotamia and Egypt are both parallel when relating to the objective of their rulers, but are distinguishable in the their religious believes throughout their societies.
Next, you want to explain what you're writing about, but briefly and in generalizations. And since this is change and continuity, provide examples/generalizations of global societies for both change and continuity. Choose three P.E.R.M.S. (Political, Economic, Religious, Militarily, Social) to analyze change and continuity of. To exemplify, a follow-up to the first example topic sentence could be "Politically, change is seen by how societies gravitated towards a more structured and hierarchical government system, with written codes of law; in addition, continuity remained in the basic leader to followers hierarchy observed throughout all of human history." Find three PERMS to do this for (since I just used political, I might use economic and social), providing generalizations along the way. After that, your thesis is finished and you can move straight into the first body paragraph. NO TRANSITIONS. They are unnecessary, time-consuming, and take too much thinking for the rest of the essay writing you have to do.

My teacher commented: "The thesis is vague, it needs to be more specific.

I received a 8/15 on my thesis.

Here is his rubric for the thesis:

Thesis (out of 15 points)
Must get first 5 points to get other points:

1. Valid, underlined the thesis in the essay, in the introduction paragraph.
To start off, there's the thesis paragraph, which can be anywhere from 3-5 sentences, but half a page is far too much. Here, you want to state your answer to the essay prompt. For example, if it is "Where is change and continuity seen from paleolithic to neolithic time periods from 10,000-1,000 BCE?", you want to start off by answering "Between 10,000 and 1,000 BCE, change and continuity can be observed from the transition between hunter-gatherer to sedentary societies." Done.

(I received a 5/5)
2. Includes major points (at least one similarity and one difference) (I received a 3/5)
3. Major points are adequately explained (I received a 0/5)

I'm emphasizing the thesis a lot because the thesis is surprisingly HALF of the full essay grade.
For example, I could use "Change can be analyzed with the Babylonians and their organized form of government, complementing the code of laws created by Hammurabi to organize irrigation and the people ruled by the Babylonians. As well, Ramses in Egypt organized the people of the northernmost Nile River by the Suez Canal in a government ruled by pharaohs." Every proper noun you use is golden and exactly what the AP readers are looking for. After you're done with change/continuity for the first half, move on to the other change/continuity for the same PERMS. Write CD(s) with a lot of proper nouns illustrating your knowledge of the essay topic. You'll also want to use many specific details from around the globe, and not just one specific place. Points would be taken off if you ranted about Babylon/Mesopotamia and Hammurabi the entire time, so go global with your information. No conclusion sentence needed, and again, no transitions. Just move to the next body paragraph.

The full essay grade is out of 30 points for a full 100, but the thesis is worth 15 of those points.

I understand no one knows anything about my teacher; however, all I need is for a good format to create a thesis for the AP World History Compare and Contrast essay.
Writing an AP essay for world history can be an intimidating task for many students simply because of all of the factual information that is involved and much it is presented without much discussion concerning the context of the events. Therefore, the first thing students should do is to review the assignment guidelines carefully to identify the topic, how many pages (or words) are required, the citation style and any additional requirements that are involved. Armed with this information, students can then search for information online, in their public libraries and school learning resource centers to write a draft outline for their essay. Let’s say the world history topic is the role of American women during World War II. An essay on this topic could begin with a brief discussion concerning the numbers of women who served in war-related industries (“Rosie the Riveters”) and then move on to discuss the roles of women in the different branches of the armed forces. This essay would then conclude by describing the contributions of these women to winning the war effort.

Also, please do give feedback over my terrible thesis....


Replies to: How to write a good thesis for the AP World History Compare and Contrast essay?

neoking Registered User Posts: 729 Member
September 2015 edited September 2015
I was in AP World last year and got a 5, but the test might be changing this year, so I'm not sure how much I can help you. However, a thesis is still a thesis, and while yours shows a good mastery of language and style, it is vague.
Also, remember that your thesis can be more than one sentence, but you should go with what style fits best for you.
Now, although you don't need transitions, you still need a topic sentence (TS) for each body paragraph. Just restate the generalization you made in the thesis paragraph. For me, I'd simply restate the political change and continuity sentence I used in the previous paragraph. Then start out with your first concrete detail (CD), which picks out either change and continuity from the TS. Integrated into and/or in the following sentences, analyze this change/continuity and use historical examples; no longer generalizations, you're now getting into the specifics.

You don't want to give too many details in the thesis (save your evidence for the body paragraphs), but you need to provide some more elaboration on exactly what their objectives were and what aspects of their religions made them different.
There are three types of essays you could be prompted to write; change and continuity over time (what happens differently over time and what stays the same), abbr. CCOT; compare and contrast (analyze what is the same and what is different about two events/time periods); and a document-based essay (reading document(s), discussing them, and analyzing them).

It's hard to explain, but you need to be specific enough so that the reader knows exactly what the focus of your essay will be, but general enough so that major details are left for your supporting paragraphs.
For the next two, follow the same pattern I explained in the previous paragraph: TS, CD (change), examples and explanation (change), CD (continuity), examples and explanation (continuity). That brings you to (assuming a pretty good essay) a 6/7 on the AP scale.

Format is not really your issue here, because your structure is fine. Your problem is making the thesis too general so that the reader won't know what your essay will exactly be about. Consider the following examples that I'll make up:

"Imperial Spain and Britain had similarities in their economic goals, but there were differences in how their colonies developed."

"Imperial Spain and Britain were similar in that they had goals to extract wealth from colonized lands in the New World. However, Spain's colonies developed from a system of subjugation of the native population and massive exploitation of resources while Britain's grew by creating colonial communities composed of opportunistic English immigrants.
The last paragraph needed to achieve a 7/7 (and possibly an 8/7 or 9/7 if your essay is exceptional; this is extended core, which basically means you met all 7/7 requirements and made an incredible essay that is almost unthinkable in the 40 minute time period) is a cause and effect paragraph. Some teachers might say to integrate this within your essay, but to make it easier for the AP readers to notice it, I recommend a fifth paragraph. With this, you'll find the changes of either one change OR one continuity, and the effects of the one you chose. Although redundant by now, I'll analyze Hammurabi's Code. "Ranging from causes including a need to organize irrigation, organize the population, institute punishments in a new criminal problem, and even create one of the first biases towards impoverished people at the expense of the rich, Hammurabi's Code was written. As a result, irrigation became organized, crime drastically fell due to the institution of the death penalty and unthinkable verdicts, and the population had a sense of identity and organization". There is your final point, a 7/7, and thus, how to write an AP World CCOT essay.


"Similarities existed in how both Imperial Spain and Britain sought gold and other rare resources in the New World to gain wealth for their respective monarchs; doing so allowed both of them to become prominent European powers with influence over the rest of the world. Britain, however, developed societies of mostly English immigrants who sought a better life in the colonies, such as the Puritans who were looking for religious freedom.
Remember, this is not an English essay. It can be choppy and not be in order (sometimes); as long as the information necessary is there and roughly follows a logical order, you should be fine. But don't make this sound pretty or like you're trying to write a book, because it's not. All you need is what's necessary.

On the other hand, Spain had relatively limited immigration and instead focused on creating labor systems called encomiendas that allowed the Spanish monarch to achieve unprecedented wealth and over-abundance of silver."

Examine the first thesis's claims - "similar economic goals" & "differences in how they developed". That is very vague because it doesn't specify or analyze their economic goals. "Economic goals" could mean a lot of different things, and your reader isn't going to infer it from your thesis. The same thing applies to "how their colonies developed". You have to give more specific detail on exactly how they developed.

The second thesis is your ideal one. It clearly specifies the types of motives that both Spain and Britain had - they wanted to extract wealth from the areas they colonized. Then, it focuses on exactly how their development differed - Spain's was based on subjugation and exploitation of resources while Britain's was based on distinct English communities.
This is a fun one. Although you asked this a while ago, I'll still answer.

It saves all key details for the body paragraphs, like encomiendas, Spanish silver, Puritans, Jamestown, etc, but includes what major points the rest of your essay will discuss.

The third thesis is obviously too much. There are way too many details that should be put in the body paragraphs, and it isn't effective at being concise and to the point.

What you're doing is only listing the categories or aspects that they had similarities and differences in; you need to concisely specify what those aspects include for the things you're comparing. Again, you can go with whatever format that works for you, but remember to explain the major points of your essay without making it too general or using important details for the body paragraphs. Revise your current thesis and post it as a reply to me.
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