Four Historical Thinking Skills: Tools for AP Students

“Jerome” by Caravaggio

There are various historical skills that AP and history students need to develop and implement. The following list is derived from the AP World History Crash Course by Jay P. Harmon

The four historical thinking skills are crafting historical arguments from historical evidence, chronological reasoning, comparison and contextualization, and historical interpretation and synthesis. These skills are not only useful in writing history essays but also in choosing the right answers to multiple-choice questions on the AP World History exam

A. Crafting Historical Arguments from Historical Evidence

This is a skill in which you use historical evidence to craft a thesis and develop an essay. THis skill has document-based question (DBQ) written all over it, but it can also help you with the multiple-choice questions that contain art, photos, and charts

B. Chronological Reasoning

Applying this historical skill will be mandatory on the Continuity and Change Over Time essay, multiple-choice questions about periodization, and cause and effect. 

C. Comparison and Contextualization

1. in multiple-choice questions you may be asked to analyze similarities and differences among and between civilizations

2. You may also be asked to connect specific events to broader processes on a regional or global scale

C. Historical Interpretation and Synthesis

1. Historical interpretation is also known as historiography. This skill reflects the ways historians interpret the past differently

2. Synthesis is the historical thinking skill that requires you to apply the other thinking skills to make a coherent argument, either in writing or by figuring out the answer to a multiple-choice question

To read more on this topic and others, check out Ap World History Crash Course

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