Ten Questions To Explore In An AP World History Comparative Essay

Let’s face it: any AP course is challenging. You’re expected to master a lot of material in a relatively short amount of time. One way that instructors like for you to demonstrate that mastery is through the writing of comparative essays. Whether it is assigned as homework or you’re looking for a thesis topic, the most difficult part of writing any essay is coming up with a question on which to base your research paper.

To help with that, we’ve come up with 10 sample questions that you could use as the basis for a comparative essay in an AP World History class:

  • In what ways did belief systems in the Middle East remain the same from 8000 B.C.E. to 600 C.E.? In what ways did the belief systems stay the same?
  • Plague pandemics had a profound effect on Western Europe and Eastern Asia from c. 600-1450. In what ways was the impact similar in both regions? In what ways was each region impacted differently?
  • What changes were seen in Western Europe as a result of technology’s impact on society 1450-1750? What impact was seen on Sub-Saharan African society during the same period as technology was introduced?
  • From a geographic point of view, in what ways do the relative positions of the Islamic and Christian worlds change over time from 1450 to 1914? What are the ramifications of the continuity and/or change in this relationship over time?
  • The roles of women have differed across the world throughout history. How have the roles of women in Western Europe and sub-Saharan Africa been similar during the period from 1750 – 1914? How have these roles been different?
  • How did China’s confrontation with the West differ from Japan’s? How was it the same as Japan’s confrontation with the West?
  • The slave labor of the plantation system in the New World can be compared with the serfdom in Russia. What caused these systems to emerge? What caused them to dissolve? Was a free market labor system accomplished?
  • Labor systems changed from 1400 to 1900. How and why did these changes take place? What are some specific, global examples of these changes?
  • How did political revolutions impact the roles of women from c. 1914 to the present in Russia? What was the impact on women during revolutions in Iran in the same period? How were these effects the same in Russia and Iran? How were they different?
  • In what ways do attempts at modernization in Japan compare to the modernization attempts in the Ottoman Empire in the period 1850 – 1914? In what ways do these attempts differ?