Sample AP World History Comparative Essay Prompt

Here’s an AP World History Comparative Essay Prompt for you to try.  Even if you don’t take the time to write the essay, you will benefit from brainstorming and outlining a response to the prompt and checking it against the possible answers.

Prompt:  Analyze similarities and differences in techniques of imperial administration in TWO of the following empires.

Han China (206 B.C.E.–220 C.E.), Mauryan/Gupta India (320 B.C.E.–550 C.E.), or Imperial Rome (31 B.C.E.–476 C.E.)

As with all essays, this essay should begin with a thesis.  Your thesis must be comprehensive and include at least one similarity AND one difference between two of the empires.  Remember to limit the thesis to the specified time periods.

Similarities Among the three Empires

Expanded taxation systems, strong armies, centralized governments, administrative bureaucracies, road building, promotion of trade and food production

What was unique to Han China?

Mandate of Heaven (divine approval of just leaders), civil Service Exams determined bureaucracies, diplomacy with other groups, hierarchies based on Confucianism

What was unique to Mauryan/Gupta India?

Decentralized government of Guptas, public welfare projects, Mauryan emperor accepts Buddhism

What was unique to Imperial Rome?

Uniform legal code, Ruler cult, Christianity

Final Tips

AP World History test scorers will award points for specificity.  An example of a mediocre statement would be "Both the Maurya/Gupta and the Romans had large armies and expanded their borders."  An example of a stronger statement would be "Both the Maurya/Gupta and the Romans used their armies to maintain control within their borders and to attack neighboring states.”

No two AP World History essays will be the same given the multitude of variables.  However, you can ensure your success on the AP World History Exam if you have:

1. Strong knowledge of the coursework
2. Familiarity about the different types of exam questions and essays
3. Completed at least two full practice tests