Period 9: Contemporary America (1980-present)
In AP® US History, period 9 spans from 1980 to present. The following guide will be updated periodically with hyperlinks to excellent resources. As you are reviewing for the contemporary era, focus on the key concepts and use the essential questions to guide you.
PERIOD 9 DATES TO KNOW
STUDY TIP: You will never be asked specifically to identify a date. However, knowing the order of events will help immensely with cause and effect. For this reason, we have identified the most important dates to know.
1980 – Reagan elected
1989 – Cold War ends
1991 – Persian Gulf War
1994 – Contract with America
1995 – Oklahoma City Bombing
2000 – Bush v. Gore
2001 – 9/11 Attacks
2008 – Great Recession
2008 – Obama elected
2011 – Affordable Care Act
PERIOD 9 ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS
STUDY TIP: Use the following essential questions to guide your review of this entire unit. Keep in mind, these are not meant to be practice essay questions. Each question was written to help you summarize the key concept.
- What were the goals and achievements of the Conservative movement?
- How did advancements in technology affect the economy and society of the US?
- In what ways did foreign policy change and stay the same after the Cold War?
Past Essay Questions from Period 9
STUDY TIP: Content from the this era has appeared on the essays twice since 2000. Take a look at these questions before you review the key concepts & vocabulary below to get a sense of how you will be assessed. Then, come back to these later and practice writing as many as you can!
*The APUSH exam was significantly revised in 2015, so any questions from before then are not representative of the current exam format. You can still use prior questions to practice, however DBQs will have more than 7 documents, the LEQ prompts are worded differently, and the rubrics are completely different. Use questions from 2002-2014 with caution. Essays from 1973-1999 available here.
PERIOD 9 KEY CONCEPTS – COURSE OUTLINE
*The following outline was adapted from the AP® United States History Course Description as published by College Board in 2017 found here. This outline reflects the most recent revisions to the course.
- Conservatives believed in the need for traditional social values and a reduced role for gov’t.
- Reagan’s victory ushered in an era of Conservative policies to cut taxes and deregulate industries.
- Conservatives argued that liberal policies were ineffective.
- Debates continued over free-trade, the power of government, and social reforms.
9.2. Technology & Demographic Changes
- New technology enhanced the economy and transformed society.
- Productivity increased as improvements in digital communication led to opportunities worldwide.
- Access to information dramatically increased with computing and mobile technologies, which changed social behaviors.
- Manufacturing and union membership decreased while service sectors increased.
- Stagnant wages for the middle class increased economic inequality.
- Demographic shifts in the population had cultural and political consequences.
- The influence of the South and West increased as populations migrated.
- Migrants from Latin America and Asia increased dramatically.
- Intense debates over immigration, diversity, gender roles, and family continued.
9.3. New World Order
- Reagan promoted interventionism that continued even after the Cold War.
- Reagan opposed communism through speeches, diplomacy, military interventions, and a buildup of weapons.
- The Cold War ended because of military spending, diplomacy, and economic issues in the Soviet Union and across Eastern Europe.
- After the Cold War ended, the US continued to debate the use of American power internationally.
- The attacks on September 11, 2001 shifted US foreign policy efforts to fighting terrorism.
- The US launched lengthy and controversial military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- The War on Terrorism raised questions about protecting civil liberties.
- Debates over US dependence on fossil fuel were sparked by continued conflicts in the Middle East and concerns over climate change.
- The US continued to be the world’s leading superpower into the 21st century
LIST OF CONCEPTS & VOCABULARY FROM PERIOD 9
STUDY TIP: These are the concepts and vocabulary from period 9 that most commonly appear on the exam. Create a quizlet deck to make sure you are familiar with these terms!
- “Don’t ask, don’t tell”
- “Tear down this wall”
- 9/11 Attacks
- affirmative action
- Affordable Care Act
- Barack Obama
- Bill Clinton
- Boston Marathon bombing
- Bush Doctrine
- Bush v. Gore
- Citizens United (2010)
- Contract with America
- Dept. of Homeland Security
- Dodd-Frank Act
- Evil Empire
- George H.W. Bush
- George W. Bush
- Great Recession
- Guantanamo Bay detention centers
- housing bubble
- Hurricane Katrina
- Iran-Contra Affair
- mass shootings
- moral majority
- National Rifle Association
- Newt Gingrich
- No Child Left Behind
- Oklahoma CIty bombing
- Persian Gulf War
- Ronald Reagan
- same sex marriage
- Sandra Day O’Connor
- Strategic Defense Initiative
- Tea Party
- Three Mile Island
- trickle-down economics
- War on Terrorism
- welfare reform