Creating Historical Context
There are two places in your essay where you should demonstrate your understanding of Context.
CONTEXTUALIZATION, is in the very beginning of your first paragraph. That should explain to your reader how the time period preceding the one stated in the prompt sets the stage for the what you are going to say.
HISTORICAL CONTEXT is when you are describing documents with HIPPO. We'll talk about that later...
To earn this point on the AP Exam, the response must relate the topic of the prompt to broader historical events, developments, or processes that occur before, during, or continue after the time frame of the question. This point is not awarded for merely a phrase or reference.
SOME TEACHERS ADVISE STUDENTS TO USE THE SAME TACTIC AS EVIDENCE IN AN LEQ, DESCRIBE, EXPLAIN, EXPAND.
The good thing about this is it forces the student to expand their ideas about Context.
Does that confuse you? Try an easier way... What happened just before the time of the prompt that sets the stage for the prompt to be relevant? Start with a time period before the prompt and tell your reader what happened that led to the prompt being worth writing about?
See Some Examples
Evaluate the extent in which the Civil War was a turning point in the lives of African Americans in the United States. Use the documents and your knowledge of the years 1860-1877 to construct your response.
The Civil War was a bloody event that led to the death of thousands of Americans.
Slavery had existed for hundreds of years in the United States. It was a terrible thing that had to be abolished.
Since the early colonial period, the peculiar institution of slavery had been a part of America’s identity. As America entered the mid 19th century sectional tensions and crises with popular sovereignty, Bleeding Kansas, and the Fugitive Slave Act made the issue of slavery increasingly unavoidable. When the Civil War began, the south considered slavery one of the key issues of the war, while Lincoln merely wanted to save the Union. Midway through the war, Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation and the war was transformed from one to simply save the Union to a battle for the future of slavery and freedom in the United States.