Changes to APUSH

Valentina Rojas, Staff Writer

by Valentina Rojas

Students taking the course Advanced Placement United States History will find themselves having a different experience from those in the stories passed down through the years by former APUSH students, as its three teachers are making numerous changes to the curriculum. While the changes have pushed teachers and students into unfamiliar territories, many of them find the modification of the curriculum an all around positive development.

According to Social Studies Curriculum Coordinator Gary Shiffman, the changes in the curriculum include fewer pages of notes for nightly homework and a wider variety of reading outside of the textbook, “A Survey: American History” by Alan Brinkley. He said that this allows students to focus on the patterns throughout United States history, rather than just memorizing names and dates.

Camille Whyte, a junior who is currently taking APUSH, thoroughly appreciates the current curriculum.

“I really enjoy it,” she said. “I love history, and I love learning details about U.S. history. It’s much more self-motivated. We do less classwork. It’s more that you learn stuff at home and then you come in and talk about it, which I really enjoy.”

The adjustments to the class are due to changes in the national AP exam, according to Shiffman. There were complaints to the College Board, which manages the AP curriculum, regarding the APUSH course and exam due to the exam’s tediousness and emphasis on facts.

“They really wanted students to think about the material and not just memorize facts,” Shiffman said. “The College Board wanted to create more thought-inducing questions, and therefore we changed the curriculum so it would more closely follow what the exam wanted.”

According to Shiffman, the open response portion of the test has gone from three major questions to a single prompt followed by four more detailed questions related to it. There are also fewer multiple choice questions on the exam, and the multiple choice questions offer only four possible answers as opposed to last year’s five.


The workload varies from week to week, according to Whyte.

“Right now it’s around 20 or 30 pages of notes for three nights of work, which isn’t that bad,” she said.

According to senior Queen-Tiye Akamefula, who took the course last year, classes mostly consisted of discussions about the notes which had been taken from the textbook the night before. However, due to the College Board’s shift from an emphasis on facts to an emphasis on concepts, teachers are devoting more of both homework and class time to sources and books besides the textbook, according to Shiffman.

“I think at first teachers were like, ‘okay, I have to change it up. I have to do something I’ve never done before,’’’ he said. “I wouldn’t really say they were excited about doing it, but they were mostly like, ‘okay, let’s see how it goes.’”

Akamefula said that one would have been expected to know the expectations of such a rigorous class before signing up for it. Therefore, the students that take the class mostly know what they are getting into.

But this year, no one, not even the teachers, are sure of what to expect.

“So far I’ve heard only positive reviews.” Shiffman said, “The teachers were excited about creating a new curriculum and seeing how it goes.”

Valentina Rojas can be contacted at [email protected]