Personal Narrative: My Experience in AP US History Essay

Personal Narrative: My Experience in AP US History Essay

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“Your final exam will be in three parts: multiple choice, primary source analysis, and three major essays. I won’t be allowed within 2 miles of you when you take the exam.” The words of Mr. F, my AP US History teacher, reverberated between my ear drums. He either didn’t notice or didn’t seem to care: “The AP US History exam will be on a Saturday in mid May. It’s graded on a scale of 0 to 5. Zero being the lowest possible score, 5 being the highest.” A student in the front row raises her hand, interrupting our baptism by fire. Mr. F motions for her to speak.

“Are you related to Stephen King?” I didn’t realize it at the time (because let’s face it, I didn’t voluntarily read anything that wasn’t a motorcycle magazine until my senior year of high school) but Mr. F bore an uncanny resemblance to the best selling suspense author. Even their eyeglasses were similar.

“He’s my cousin.” the teacher nodded, pausing to recollect his thoughts. “The test is pretty simple, but it’s probably more difficult than anything you’ve taken before.” I had yet to learn the eccentricities of the oxymoron, but that fact didn’t hinder Mr. F as he grinned slyly while he mouthed the previous statement. “The Regents exams have 4 possible answers. The AP has 5, and they’re usually more difficult to discriminate between. The primary source section will be basically the same thing you run into on Regents Part 2s: political cartoons or other documents accompanied by a set of questions. The essays are probably going to be the biggest hurdle for you. You are required to write three instead of the usual one or two on a Regents exam. Like the Regents, you will be given a limited choice between essay topics to write on, and at least one of the essays will probably...

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... feedback, he had to show me what the AP would think of my essay. Mr. F wasn’t flawed. The whole process was - pardon the shamelessly obvious pun - flawed (you had to see that coming since the first 2 lines of the paper). Especially after having read Peter Elbow’s book on the teacherless writing class, thinking about that year of AP US History is absolutely appalling. The whole writing process was turned on its head. It wasn’t about learning to write or how to improve writing. It was about what to do in order to pass. I can only imagine how a member of the Iroquois Nation must feel about living in 21st Century New York: join us or be left behind in poverty. Write this way. It is the only way. Indians are subhuman. Be a man: become an American. No, a real American. Write this way. It’s the only real way to write. And then again . . . maybe I just don’t like US history.

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