Announcing Mastering the Essay - AP World History Edition | Sherpa Learning

Announcing Mastering the Essay - AP World History Edition

Announcing Mastering the Essay - AP World History Edition

Sherpa Learning Releases Mastering the Essay—A Skills-Based Exam Prep Program Built Around the Redesigned AP World History Course and 2017 Exam—by Tony Maccarella

Sherpa Learning Releases Mastering the Essay—A Skills-Based Exam Prep Program Built Around the Redesigned AP World History Course and 2017 Exam—by Tony Maccarella

West Milford, NJ — The 2016-17 school year represents the third and final year in a series of redesign roll-outs for the Advanced Placement history courses. Beginning with AP U.S. History in 2014-15, the College Board has released a new course curriculum—corresponding to a new exam—for each of the three AP history courses. The revised curricula and exam format demonstrate an increased focus on historical thinking skills with a decreased expectation regarding the vast amount of historical content that a student must retain. The College Board calls the revisions “part of its ongoing process to make AP course and exam materials more effective for teachers and their students” while remaining faithful to the expectations of the college and universities that will provide academic credit for high AP exam scores.

However, student and teacher reactions to the revisions have been mixed (as can be expected with any significant change). When speaking with Sherpa Learning’s development team at a recent conference, several educators noted that the changes themselves are worthwhile, but the support needed to facilitate a smooth transition has been lacking. The College Board provided a variety of resources for teachers, beginning with course planning and pacing guides and professional development workshops in the year before each rollout. “It’s just not enough,” said one AP World History teacher from a northern New Jersey school district.

Sherpa Learning (, a print and digital publisher of teacher-developed resources for high-achieving students, has responded to this need by delivering skills-based resources that are designed to the new course and exam standards by teachers that are on the front lines of these changes.

AP veteran Tony Maccarella , with the support of Sherpa Learning’s extensive network of reviewers and class-testers, created an AP History program that accurately targets the new Historical Thinking Skills, Thematic Learning Objectives, and Key Concepts of the recently redesigned course guidelines. Mastering the Essay employs a 6-step process that teaches students how to plan and execute high-scoring essays in both the Long Essay and Document-Based Question (DBQ) formats. The program also includes instruction and practice exercises for the new style of source-based multiple-choice question, as well as the entirely new short-answer question format.

Author Tony Maccarella explains that Mastering the Essay is superior to traditional AP “test prep” books because of its focus on the often-neglected part of the exam—the part that will make or break an exam score—the essays. Students are guided through a process for developing consistently strong thesis essays—the kind of writing necessary for the LEQ and DBQ essays on the new AP exam, as well as most college-level essays. Rather than simply drilling students with hundreds of multiple-choice questions, Mastering the Essay delves into the difficult skills required for the exam essays, like the ability to analyze historical documents and to synthesize historical data across chronological periods and geographic regions.

The AP World History Edition of Mastering the Essay includes guides to the new rubrics, sample essays, answers and explanations for each exercise, and 100+ practice exercises with guided examples, including 30 full-length Document-Based Questions (DBQs). Each set of exercises includes items/activities from each of the six chronological historical time periods of the new AP World course guidelines, making it possible for teachers to integrate the materials at any point in the course.

The print edition of Mastering the Essay consists of two components—an Instructional Handbook (available February 2017) and an Exercise Workbook (available July 2017). A digital edition (for all mobile devices) is also in development.

About the Author

Tony Maccarella taught AP European History at Parsippany Hills High School in Parsippany, NJ for over a decade. Prior to teaching at Parsippany Hills, he taught at Egg Harbor Township High School and Dunellen Senior High School. Tony has been teaching social studies since 1982, and besides European History, he has taught World History, AP US History, Comparative Governments, Anthropology, Psychology, Economics and Military History.

Since 2002, Tony has served as a Reader and Table Leader for the AP European History exam. He is responsible for scoring AP European History exam questions, supervising other readers, and assisting with the clarification of scoring standards.

He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in History from St. Joseph’s University and a Masters in Teaching and Learning from Nova Southeastern University. In 1988, Tony was a New Jersey Governor’s School teacher-scholar, and in 1990, he was awarded the New Jersey Governor’s Teacher Grant for his “History in the News” activity, a writing skills program that employs the journalistic process in the history classroom.

About Sherpa Learning

Launched in August of 2014 and based in West Milford, NJ, Sherpa Learning is a trusted publisher of print and digital skills-based instructional resources written by rock star teachers (i.e., leaders within their discipline) for Advanced Placement (AP) and other high-level courses. Founded on the principle that educators should author educational resources with collaborative input from the extended teaching community, Sherpa Learning develops resources for teachers, by teachers. Over 2,200 educators from across the country are registered with Team Sherpa to review, develop, and test original content. The company is currently producing both online and print resources for AP, Pre-AP, and Honors courses.


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