How Do You Write Contextualization in AP World History?

Contextualization is a critical skill that students must master to excel in AP World History. In essence, it is the ability to understand historical events and trends within their broader social, economic, and political contexts. In this article, we will explore what contextualization means in AP World History and how you can write effective essays that demonstrate your mastery of this skill.

What is Contextualization?

Contextualization involves placing historical events or phenomena within their larger historical contexts. It requires an understanding of the social, economic, and political structures of a particular time period.

For example, if you were writing about the French Revolution, you would need to understand the economic conditions that led to it, such as the country’s debt crisis and widespread poverty. Similarly, you would need to understand the political structures that existed at the time, such as absolute monarchy and the Estates General.

Why is Contextualization Important?

Contextualization is important because it enables students to demonstrate their understanding of broader historical trends and developments. It also allows them to analyze the causes and effects of specific historical events more effectively. The ability to contextualize historical events is a key skill tested on AP World History exams.

How Do You Write Contextualization in AP World History?

To write contextualization effectively in AP World History essays, there are several steps you should take:

  • Step 1: Understand the Historical Context: Before you start writing your essay, it’s essential to have a deep understanding of the historical context surrounding your topic.
  • Step 2: Identify Key Themes: Identify key themes or trends that relate to your topic. Ask yourself how these themes influenced or were influenced by specific events.
  • Step 3: Provide Specific Examples: Be sure to provide specific examples that demonstrate your understanding of the broader context.

    These examples should be clear and concise.

  • Step 4: Use Evidence: Use evidence from primary and secondary sources to support your arguments. This evidence should be relevant to the broader historical context you are discussing.
  • Step 5: Connect to Broader Themes: Connect your analysis to broader historical themes or trends. This will help you demonstrate your understanding of the larger context and show that you can think critically about historical events.


In conclusion, contextualization is a crucial skill for students studying AP World History. To write effective essays, it’s essential to understand the broader historical context surrounding a particular topic and identify key themes that relate to it.

By providing specific examples and using evidence from primary and secondary sources, students can demonstrate their understanding of larger historical trends and developments. With practice, anyone can master this skill and excel on AP World History exams.