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A Program of the Virginia Department of Education

04104 AP U.S. History

Field of Study

AP U.S. History is a college-level course that combines learning factual knowledge with developing analytical skills. Emphasis is given to developing interpretive writing skills while assessing historical material according to relevance, reliability, and importance by weighing the evidence presented in historical scholarship. Heavy emphasis is given to essay writing and developing superior writing skills. The course includes materials and assignments ranging from discovery and settlement to present-day America, focusing on political, economic, diplomatic, and social history. 

Material Covered

Students will develop their analytical and writing skills as they deepen their understanding of our nation’s political, economic, and social foundations. There are nine regular academic modules in the course: 

  • Module 1: Contact & Colonization (1492–1607)
  • Module 2: Dominance of North America (1607–1754)
  • Module 3:The Emergence of the New Republic (1754–1800)
  • Module 4: Struggles of the New Republic in the Face of Rapid Change (1800–1848)
  • Module 5: Expansion and a Nation Divided (1844–1877)
  • Module 6: Industrialization and Urbanization (1865–1898)
  • Module 7, Part One: Imperialism and World War I (1898–1919)
  • Module 7, Part Two: Depression and World War II (1920–1945)
  • Module 8: The Cold War and America Post-WWII (1945–1980)
  • Module 9: Postwar America (1980–present)

There are two additional modules: an AP Exam Review Module and an Extensions Module that encapsulates the course and includes a final project.

Student Expectations

A rapid pace of study must be maintained. Students enrolled in this course should exhibit above-average reading comprehension, writing, and time management skills. They should have a desire to delve into history beyond the basic level of understanding. Emphasis will be placed on preparation for the College Board’s AP Exam in May. Student work will be required outside of class time.

Students will complete a variety of homework assignments and required readings for each module. They will participate in discussion boards. Work related to each chapter of the textbook contains study guides and a culminating quiz, as well as written responses to Free Response Questions. This course contains a mix of writing, multiple-choice, and other assignments. Students are expected to complete all coursework according to the schedule posted by the instructor. Students should plan on several hours per week of work outside of the regular school day. All students must complete a final exam at the end of the course.

Additional Information

AP U.S. History offers students the opportunity to think about our past in a new way and to better understand how yesterday’s actions will impact the present and future. In addition to preparing students for the AP U.S. History Exam, this course will help students to develop their research, writing, and analytical skills, which will serve them well academically and in their future careers.

Related Requirements

At the conclusion of the course, students will be prepared to take the AP U.S. History Exam and are expected but not required to do so. Schools may also elect to have students complete the Virginia & U.S. History SOL test, although Virtual Virginia does not require this.


  • Required: Enrollment in grades 9–12
  • Recommended: Completion of a high school-level World History course

Course Texts and Materials


  • The American Pageant
    Authors: David M. Kennedy and Lizabeth Cohen
    ISBN for 16th AP Edition: 9781305075917
    ISBN for 16th Edition: 9781305075900
    Publisher: Cengage Publishing


  • Students may choose to purchase AP exam review books for the course. These are not required materials and Virtual Virginia does not endorse a particular review book, but listed below are some of the options available.
    • Barron’s AP United States History
      ISBN: 9781438007939
    • The Princeton Review Cracking the AP U.S. History Exam
      ISBN: 9781101920039
    • AP U.S. History Crash Course Book
      ISBN: 9780738612263
    • McGraw Hill 5 Steps to a 5 AP U.S. History
      ISBN: 9781259589454
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