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Sarah Bradstreet

Crash Course in AP US History


Ok, moment of truth: have you been putting off studying for the APUSH exam? Looking for crash course AP US History? Here are some resources to try that can help you get prepared for the APUSH exam fast.

Crash Course: US History

This series of YouTube videos from Crash Course gives a fast but thorough overview of the big events and themes in US history. There are 48 videos in the series, covering everything from Europe’s first with Native Americans all the way to the Obama administration. Each highly engaging video runs about 10-15 minutes.

Bonus: You might recognize the narrator as author John Green of The Fault in Our Stars fame.

AP US History Crash Course by REA

This book from REA is designed for the last-minute studier. It is jam-packed with the most important information you need for the exam. It is closely aligned with the APUSH framework and includes “Making Connections” features throughout that will help you with those tricky synthesis portions of the exam. It also does a great job of covering the oft-neglected topics of women’s, Native American, and African-American history that are essential for both a thorough understanding of US history and exam success. Purchasing the book also gives you access to a full online practice test. The latest version is available on Amazon.

The above is the most current version of the book, which has been updated for the new test framework. This is going to be the most useful tool for you. If, however, you’re strapped for cash, you can get a of an older (2011) version of the Crash Course book here. The test information will be out of date, but most of the actual content is still relevant and can provide a good overview.

Adam Norris’ APUSH Review

Teacher Adam Norris’ APUSH Review YouTube channel is chock full of quick and informative videos. He’s got videos of varying lengths, so you can choose what works best for you, depending on your time frame. For example, you could try:

  • this series of 10-minute videos, one for each APUSH period
  • subject-specific playlists, such as important court cases
  • a pair of 35-40 minute videos providing a thorough final review (check out part 1 and part 2 here)

You can access even more resources at his website,

Mr. Klaff’s APUSH Review

For the ultimate crash course, teacher Mr. Klaff has condensed the most important points of the APUSH curriculum into this 18 minute video, perfect for the true procrastinator.

If you’ve got a little more time, Mr. Klaff has produced tons of other videos that are great for reviewing important APUSH concepts. (There’s even several music videos!) Check them out on this playlist.

Mr. Klaff is also the author of the book No Bull Review: United States History, which provides a concise guide to the most important content for the APUSH exam.

AP US History Study Guide from Gilder Lehrman

This APUSH study guide from the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History isn’t advertised as a crash course, but it can definitely be used that way. This study guide is specifically recommended on the College Board APUSH website, so you know that it’s high-quality and accurately conveys the content you’ll see on the exam.

There is a wealth of resources available here. Depending on how much time you have, you can take advantage of as much or as little as you want. If you truly need a quick crash course, the best place to start are the videos. There is one video for each of the 9 APUSH periods. The length of each video varies, ranging from just under 7 minutes to just under 20. These videos aren’t quite as “fun” as the John Green Crash Course videos above, but they are just as informative and are designed to cover the most important topics you’ll need for the AP US History exam.

If you have a little more time to devote, you should definitely check out some of the site’s other resources. If you click on the heading for each period (to the left of each video on the main page), you’ll come to a resource page for each period. Each period includes:

  • an outline of key concepts
  • an interactive timeline
  • a collection of primary source documents, including both the document itself and an introduction explaining its significance
  • additional short videos on more specific topics within the period
  • essays by historians on specific topics related to the period

Another cool feature are the study cards. These weren’t designed for the APUSH exam. They were actually designed for the SAT II US History Subject Test; however, they contain great content that is very relevant to the APUSH and the institute recommends using them for this purpose. To access the study cards, go to this page and click on whichever period you’re looking to study. From there, click on “Study Cards” to access this resource.

crash course AP US history- Clemmonsdogpark
Now, when they say “study cards,” you may have flash cards come to mind, but that’s not quite what these are. Each period contains a set of “cards” that contain outlines of key concepts, important vocabulary, videos, interactive maps, audio clips, images, and more.

All of the above resources cover content. Now what if you also need test-taking tips? Gilder Lehrman’s got you covered here, too, with a lots of study tips.

When you’re ready for a practice test, try this multiple choice practice test.

Need more tips on last-minute prep? Try our APUSH study tips, including how to study the week before the exam.

ACE your APUSH exam! Start here.
About Sarah Bradstreet

Sarah is an educator and writer with a Master’s degree in education from Syracuse University who has helped students succeed on standardized tests since 2008. She loves reading, theater, and chasing around her two kids.

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