Short Answer Questions (SAQ)
21 min read•january 1, 2021
1. This is a really thoughtful, yet concise, answer. Way to go!
2. This is another good answer, and it includes a specific and clear comparison. Nice work. There’s just enough detail here to make this a great answer.
3. This answer works. Honestly, when reading it, at first I thought you’d accidentally written another similarity rather than a difference. You brought it back around by the end, so it works. In general, I usually encourage students to choose a difference that can be clearly shown with contrasting examples, rather than one like this (i.e. both used religion, but different ones). If that’s what came to mind though, you’ve got enough detail to make it work here!
1. This answer works, and I especially like how you’ve included specific examples. Talking about context is usually the broadest kind of analysis the AP Exam asks for, so it’s also ok to take it a bit broader.
2. This is a really creative (and effective) comparison! Because the verb in this prompt is “describe,” we’re not looking for a lengthy response. If you wanted to give just a bit more detail, I’d love an example from each state of how they used Christianity to unite the empire.
3. Another answer with some good detail. This prompt was an “explain” verb, so we’re looking for just a bit more. What did feudalism look like in England? What did centralized rule look like in Ethiopia? And why, briefly, did they develop differently in this era?
1. This is a really thorough answer. You’ve done a great job of giving specific examples that tie your initial idea about trade to state expansion. This “identify” style of prompt doesn’t require a lot of explanation, so it’s good to keep these responses brief.
2. This is a really interesting comparison! I’m loving the way students are really pulling together examples from different regions of the world. Here, you’ve identified regions that the Mongols conquered with their militaries. What specific lands did the armies of Mali conquer?
3. This is another good comparison. It shows a clear difference and it is the same type of response (you describe the style of rule for both empires) - this is actually quite challenging to do, so I’m glad to see it in your writing! One way to continue to strengthen your answers is to answer the implied “why” for any kind of “evaluate” or “explain” prompt. In this case - why do you think the style of rule differed in this way in Mali and the Mongol khanates?
1. This is a good answer. I especially like how you developed it with specific examples to demonstrate how trade helped states expand!
2. This is another good answer. The last sentence in your response is a good comparative statement - you’ve chosen a clear similarity between two relevant regions.
3. Since this prompt is phrased as an “explain” prompt, it would be a good idea to expand your answer here. (Just like you’ll need to expand in your DBQ.) You’ve given the good comparison of Song China and Japan, and to strengthen it, think about adding a sentence about why they were different in these specific ways.
1. This is a really interesting answer! You’ve correctly identified trade as a development that was context in which the expansion of states occurred. The example here is really interesting too - I haven’t seen anyone write about paper yet.
2. This is a good example of comparison - you’ve identified the similarity in the first sentence and then expand it through your examples. One way to strengthen this answer would be to connect more specifically to the prompt (in this case: how does education relate to a political entity in those states?)
3. This answer does a really good job of connecting to the prompt (politics) and giving a clear comparison with relevant examples. Nice work!
1. This is a really solid answer. You’ve clearly identified a context for state expansion, given specific examples, and connected it to the prompt!
2. This answer works pretty well. It’s a good comparison - clearly stated in the first sentence and explained in the examples. One thing to pay attention to is making sure that your answer really connects to the topic of the prompt (in this case, political entities.)
3. It looks like you may have interpreted this prompt really narrowly for this one. It’s a good example of comparison (difference), stated and developed with examples. It’s not very political though. The prompt asked you to use the same two empires from part B, but you didn’t necessarily have to discuss the same theme or topic (religion) for this prompt. Feel free to give yourself freedom to choose examples that fit the prompt best!
1. This is a good response. It clearly identifies a relevant context for state expansion, and you develop and connect that idea through your examples. Good work!
2. This is some effective comparison! The similarity between the Mali and Song China is clearly established in the first sentence, and your examples and explanation expand to connect that idea back to the prompt.
3. This answer is a good difference, though the connection to “political entities” is a little less clear. Be sure that your answer is connected back to the prompt for maximum success!
1. This is a good answer. You’re right to see the connection between trade and state expansion.
2. This is a well-written comparison. The similarity is clearly stated and the examples that follow give just enough detail to strengthen the answer. Nice work!
3. This is another good comparison. Differences can be difficult to write, and you’ve struck a good balance here with showing specific difference and staying on topic for the prompt. To strengthen any comparative statement, think about adding a sentence that addresses why the similarity or difference exists. That added analysis will improve an “explain”-style SAQ and will definitely help with a DBQ!
1. This is a good answer. It gives a clear context for state expansion, and then follows up with examples that connect back to the prompt. Nice work!
2. This is a good example of how to write a similarity comparison. It clearly states the similarity in the first sentence, and then gives just enough detail to demonstrate that similarity with specifics.
3. I think that differences are really challenging to write, and you’ve done a great job here. It’s clear what the difference is, and again, good details that show it in practice in each state. One way to strengthen a comparison (in an “explain”-style SAQ or a DBQ like you’ll write for this year’s exam) is to include analysis that gives a reason why the similarity or difference occurred. Doing that analytical work would strengthen both of your comparative responses here.
1. This is a good answer. You’ve clearly identified some context, and you’ve connected that to a specific state that expanded during this era. Nice work.
2. This is a good similarity. The civilizations you chose are specific and relevant, and your examples connect the idea of taxes to the state (politics), which is really important for this prompt!
3. Writing differences can be more challenging than similarities, because you need to have specific examples of what each state did, which you have here. Good work. I’m not sure the connection between religion and the state (politics) is fully developed here, so be sure that your answer addresses the entire prompt given for maximum success.
1. This is a good answer. You’ve correctly identified trade as context for state expansion, and your example clearly shows the link between them. Nice work!
2. This is a good start to a similarity answer. You’ve identified a really interesting comparison between the Khmer and Inca states, and you’ve connected the idea of religion to the legitimacy of rulers. That’s really good work! If this were a DBQ or a “explain”- style SAQ prompt, you might want a little more detail about how these states used their beliefs to strengthen the rulers’ power.
3. This answer is really well connected to the prompt - we’re looking for a difference in the same two states that relates to political development. Because this prompt is the “explain”-style, you may want to expand more on your examples. One way to strengthen any comparison is to include some analysis of why a specific difference existed between two states.
1. This is a really good version of this answer! Most folks have been writing about trade for part 1, and I like that your answer addresses the link between trade, population, and the expansion of state power.
2. Your choice of examples for the part and the next are really interesting. I love seeing Ethiopia getting some attention in APWH answers! You’ve done a good job here at establishing a similarity at the beginning of your answer and then following up with specific examples.
3. This answer struggles to fully address the prompt. For this part, we wanted you to focus on differences in state development (politics) specifically, and that’s a little bit lost in this response. I like the way you’ve noticed the influence of Islam in these regions, and I wonder if you could tie that back in to state development or if there’s another difference between Europe and Ethiopia that might be more directly relevant to politics.
1. This is a good answer. I especially like seeing African states getting represented in these responses, because it shows that you’re getting a good balance of regions in your studying!
2. This is a good similarity comparison. You’ve clearly identified the similarity in the first sentence, and then expanded with your example in the next. For your DBQ exam or an “explain”-style SAQ, you can strengthen an answer like this by addressing the question of why the similarity existed in two completely different states (especially these two, who had no contact.)
3. One thing that will help your comparison writing is to address the comparison directly, especially with differences. Instead of saying “they had different ways of legitimizing their rule” you might say something like “While Song China _______, the Aztecs ________ to legitimize their rule instead” (with specific ideas about each place in the blanks.) This establishes your ideas as a comparison right off the bat! (Don’t forget that China used a tribute system too, so its doubly important here to establish how these two were different!!)
This is a good response. You’ve correctly identified trade as a relevant context for state expansion, and even connected it to a relevant state - China.
For both parts 2 and 3 there’s an important correction to make: the prompt asked for a comparison between political entities in two regions. While the Song Dynasty would definitely count for this, Muslim scholars doesn’t really work. You might choose one of the Islamic states from this period like the Delhi Sultanate or the West African kingdom of Mali to help you elaborate more on some of these ideas. Or, you could choose a completely different state in another region that you can compare politically with Song China.
1. This answer works. You’ve correctly identified trade as context for the expansion of states in this period. Some of your additional examples and information don’t necessarily add to our understanding of how trade helped states expand, so keep an eye on your examples in order to choose the best and most relevant ones.
2. This answer has some good analysis in it. Specifically, it answers the question of why China and Japan would have similarities. This is a really good strategy. To strengthen your comparison writing, be sure to clearly state what the comparison is from the beginning. In this case, your first sentence identifies the regions you will compare, but not what was similar about them. I had to infer that from the rest of the answer, and it would strengthen your answer overall to state that similarity up front.
3. Again, it’s really important to state your comparison directly in your answer. I think that differences are harder to write than similarities. One formula you might use would be something like, “While China _________, Japan _________ instead in its political development.” (The blanks would be filled with the specific aspects of political development that are different between these regions.)