Advanced U.S. History

Full-year course. This course surveys U.S. history from the colonial period through the end of the twentieth century.  The organizing feature as we proceed through the centuries of our past will be the query: “How has American history promoted or belied the ideals of political equality, natural rights, and sovereignty of the people?” By practicing the same historical thinking skills and tools that professional historians employ and by engaging with rich primary sources, students will deepen their appreciation for the work and subtleties of history and prepare themselves for the types of knowledge and skill expected on the AP exam. 

How is this course different from a traditional high school U.S. History survey? Enrolled students will supplement the work of the traditional U.S. history course with an extra class session devoted to the analysis of primary sources and learning skills such as evaluating claims and evidence in sources, contextualization, argumentation, making connections, and identifying comparison, causation, continuity, and change. They also will become comfortable with the Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) test format and requirements. Tests for the course, for example, are modeled on APUSH so that students may become familiar with the exam’s expectations, in terms of pacing, comprehension, and skill sets. 

In many high schools, APUSH students will have over four contact hours of class in addition to five or so hours of homework each week, so please be prepared for a considerable amount of reading and analysis to be completed outside of our time together. Students who choose to take the AP exam in May have the opportunity to earn college credit by passing, although taking the test is not required to participate in this class.  

The class is not lecture-based, but is run as a modified “flipped classroom.” Students will be expected to watch films, engage in discussion posts, and read outside of class, so that the bulk of class time will be available to work through problems, analyze primary sources, and engage in collaborative, small-group learning. Generally Mondays we will address content and big questions, and Wednesdays will be our “workshop day,” where we build historiographical skills. Working with primary sources will guide students toward higher-order thinking and better critical thinking and analysis skills.

Students who wish to list an AP course taken at WTMA on their homeschool transcript must register with the College Board. Once registered, they can indicate that they are using the Well-Trained Mind Academy as their online course provider. If a student wishes to take an AP exam, they must register to sit for the test with a local school. Our AP instructors provide information to their students about how to find a testing site and register for the exam.

Please Review Before Registering


  • Example Syllabus
  • Click here to purchase the course texts (all except Give Me Liberty!).
    • Give Me Liberty! Eric Foner
      • Because the 7th edition of the AP version of Give Me Liberty! will not be published until 2024-2025, students will use the 6th edition electronic version of the text. 
    • The United States in Global Perspective: A Primary Source Reader
    • AMSCO Advanced Placement United States History, 2020 Edition
    • Historical Thinking Skills: A Workbook for U.S. History, John P. Irish
  • Class meets twice per week for 50-55 minutes.
  • Class cap: average 12 students.
  • Designed for grades 11-12.
  • High school students may be awarded 1 Social Sciences credit upon completion of this course.

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