AP World History
THESIS WRITING – THE COMPARATIVE ESSAY
Students in AP World History are expected to be able to write three different
types of essays: a document-based question (or DBQ), a change-over-time
essay, and a comparative essay. You can probably gather from the names what
you need to do in each essay – the document-based question provides you with
a set of documents on which to base your essay; the change-over-time essay
asks you to analyze the changes and continuities that occurred within a certain
period of time; and the comparative essay asks you to compare and contrast two
episodes, cultures, religions, or other historical phenomenon from a given period.
Writing a thesis for an AP World History essay is a little different from other
theses you may have learned to write in English or Oral Communications.
Luckily, there is a basic format you can use for each of the three essays.
The key to writing a good AP World History essay is to tell the reader what you
are going to talk about before you talk about it. The AP World History Exam
refers to this as your thesis. The scoring rubric (the guidelines readers use to
score your essays) requires readers to answer the following questions about
each of your essays:
• Do you have a comprehensive, analytical, and explicit thesis?
• Is your thesis acceptable?
So how does a person write a comprehensive, analytical, and explicit thesis?
What needs to be included? What is an “acceptable” thesis and what is an
“unacceptable” thesis? Put simply, an analytical thesis will use specific details
that will allow the reader to understand exactly what you are talking about. A
good thesis is never just one sentence; it is a group of statements. Therefore,
you will start with a general sentence, but you have to then follow it up with
additional sentences that provide all the necessary elements described above.
Together, these statements must
• restate the prompt and define terms, context, and chronology of events
• address each part of the question (include both a similarity and a
difference or both a continuity and a change)
• Make a transition statement to the body of the essay with a sentence like
“The historical evidence would indicate that …”