What Is Unit 1 of AP World History About?

If you are taking AP World History, you may be wondering what to expect from Unit 1. This unit covers the period of prehistory to around 600 BCE, and is a foundational unit for understanding the rest of world history. In this article, we will take a closer look at what Unit 1 covers and how you can prepare for it.


Unit 1 of AP World History is divided into six key themes:

  • Humans and the Environment: This theme focuses on how humans interact with their environment, including topics like climate change, agricultural practices, and the impact of geography on human settlement.
  • Culture: This theme explores the development of human culture over time, including art, music, religion, and language.
  • State-Building: This theme looks at how political systems have developed over time, from early forms of government to complex empires.
  • Economic Systems: This theme covers topics like trade networks, labor systems, and the development of money.
  • Social Structures: This theme examines how societies are organized and structured based on factors like gender, class, and ethnicity.
  • Technology and Innovation: This theme explores how technology has advanced over time and its impact on society.

The Big Picture

To understand Unit 1 in context, it’s important to have a broad understanding of world history up to this point. Here are some key events that took place before 600 BCE:

  • Prehistory: Before written records were kept (around 3000 BCE), humans lived in small groups as hunters-gatherers. They developed tools to help them survive in their environments.
  • The Agricultural Revolution (10,000 BCE – 3000 BCE): Humans began to settle in one place and develop agriculture. This allowed for the development of more complex societies.
  • The Bronze Age (3000 BCE – 1200 BCE): Humans began to use metal tools and weapons, which led to the development of more complex political systems.
  • The Iron Age (1200 BCE – 600 BCE): The use of iron tools and weapons became widespread, leading to the development of large empires like Persia, Greece, and Rome.

How to Prepare

To prepare for Unit 1 of AP World History, it’s important to have a solid understanding of these key events and themes. Here are some tips for studying:

  • Read the textbook: Your textbook will be your primary resource for learning about Unit 1. Read each chapter carefully and take notes on key concepts and events.
  • Use outside resources: There are many online resources available that can help you better understand the material.

    Look for videos, articles, and podcasts that cover topics related to Unit 1.

  • Create flashcards: Flashcards can be a helpful tool for memorizing key terms and concepts. Create flashcards for each theme and review them regularly.
  • Practice writing essays: Essay writing is a key component of AP World History exams. Practice writing essays on topics related to Unit 1 so you can get comfortable with the format.

In Conclusion

Unit 1 of AP World History is an important foundational unit that covers key themes like humans and the environment, culture, state-building, economic systems, social structures, and technology and innovation. To prepare for this unit, it’s important to have a solid understanding of world history up to 600 BCE and to use a variety of study techniques like reading the textbook, using outside resources, creating flashcards, and practicing essay writing. With these tools, you can succeed in Unit 1 and set yourself up for success in the rest of your AP World History course.