Sort of...the College Board requires that the material be covered, and covering it all means memorizing a lot.

My eldest started APUSH with Hopkins CTY and it was a disaster that he dropped after 2 weeks. Memorize, regurgitate, move on. The "essays" were to be written in 40 minutes online. It was all test prep and minimal in the way of meaningful content. And this was via CTY.

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I don't recall having to do a whole lot of writing in the college history course I took.


I'm going to posit that this is a more-often-than-not thing, and that it's a big problem. Historians synthesize data, draw conclusions, and write about it. In that sense, history is similar to an observational science. Obviously, there are differences, but in history, if you want to make a claim, you have to back it up with data.

Reading texts and primary sources, synthesizing information, and writing about it coherently is very, very hard. American students don't learn how to do this, by and large, and it creates a huge skill gap here, which shows. Our education system and culture have a short-term focus, which creates all kinds of problems (e.g. not seeing the value of a subsidized university education).

AP humanities and social sciences classes fit right into that category, in that they aren't focused on teaching students how to analyze information at a honest college level. Instead, they focus on "learning the material" and a relatively superficial understanding of causes and effects. Knowing which admiral was in charge in the Pacific in 1943 and why specific battles were fought is very different from understanding the overall environment that led to the war and etc. The AP approach tends toward the superficial end of the learning pool. This is okay-ish for high school. Not so much for a good college, by a wide margin.