Author’s note: if you’re dumb and didn’t take APs, this blog won’t make any sense to you. Please return to playing checkers.
I saw #APUSH trending today. I think it’s because this kid Ethan put together a fun tweet thread of Parks and Rec moments related to US History. Here it is, if you’re into this sort of thing…
It did bring back a flood of memories about the AP exams, and specifically the U.S. History test. The cool kids called it APUSH for short. It was a breath of fresh air following the darkness of AP European History. What a joy to trade Robespierre and the reign of terror for Muckrakers, Cotton Mather, and the Teapot Dome Scandal.
Even so, APs were fun until May, when everyone could smell summer around the corner but the AP kids knew they had the massive exam to get through. The stakes were high, too. Potential college credit, an entire year of studying leading up to one test… I still can’t understand how I managed to score 4 goals/game in lax that season while also getting a 4 on my APUSH exam.
Remember the DBQs? What a crapshoot those were. You wanted a Rosie the Riveter poster but you got some grainy magazine cover representing migrant conditions during the dust bowl. No time to dawdle though; you’re way behind schedule after the short answer questions. Oh, and try to ignore the blinding pain in your hand from gripping your BLUE OR BLACK INK pen for the past three hours. You’re almost there! Only the long essay left!!
So many flashcards. The New Deal, Boss Tweed, Knights of Labor, Antietem… So many terms that stir some vague recognition in a pickled corner of your brain, inaccessibly fuzzy from the intervening years of flip cup and gravity bongs. It’s amazing when you stumble upon a comprehensive refresher of some tiny sliver from that class, like when I saw Hamilton (original cast obviously) or read McCullough’s 1776. As it turns out, a lot of those historical moments—which you “covered” by reading a two-paragraph summary in a Kaplan prep book—were way more interesting and complicated than you knew as junior.
Never thought I’d say this, but writing this has made me miss multiple choice test questions. Process of elimination was a better friend than I’ve met in 31 years. Good luck to all the kiddies taking the APUSH test today. PENCILS DOWN!
PS- I used to think Civil War reenactments were as nerdy as the people who dress up for Star Wars premieres. But now I think they’re kinda awesome. The taste of gunpowder on your lips, dying amongst your brethren in a meadow in Virginia… sign me up.