About the Stimulus-Based Multiple Choice Question (SBMCQ)
The stimulus-based multiple choice question is a tricky beast when you first encounter it. It was first used in 2015 for the AP US History exam in order to expect students to practice Historical Thinking Skills rather than just regurgitate memorized facts. While there is still an element of these questions being "multiple guess" type questions and answers, they are meant to expect you to use real-world skills. In other words, the old way of just memorizing dates for a history test doesn't cut it in AP World History.
"Reverse Engineering" the SBMCQ
Each SBMCQ has a few basic parts:
You can visualize this sort of like this:
Stimulus + KC + HRS + student tears = Stimulus-Based Multiple Choice Question
Example Walk-Through Question - STEP 1: SINK (OR SKIM)
Your first task is to skim the stimulus. Identify what time period it comes from, who the author is, and what main concepts are being discussed. Luckily most of this is in the caption in this case and you can expect this often.
If you have a long passage to read, you need to be able to skim for main ideas. Remember, "sink or skim" - you only have 60 seconds per question.
STEP 2: READ THE QUESTION (WELL, OF COURSE)
This sounds obvious, but is often overlooked. I will tell you in class that AP means "Answer the Prompt" - whether it be a writing prompt or multiple choice question many students fail to get points because they miss the main idea of the question at hand. Let's look at it together.
First: when you come across names you don't know, don't panic. Are they listed in the caption? They are in this case. Read for yourself to see who Hammurabi and Shamash are.
Second: look at the question clause of the following. It reads that "The relationship... best illustrates which of the following features of ancient civilizations." This is the most important part to getting this correct.
STEP 3: READ THE ANSWER CHOICES CAREFULLY. USE YOUR KNOWLEDGE AND LOGIC.
All SBMCQ sets have a disclaimer that says you need historical content knowledge to answer them. Keep this in mind as you read the answer choices.
Let's move through the answer choices together:
(A) Rulers deferred to the priestly class for religious guidance.
First, ask yourself: is this statement true? Just for a second ignore the rest of the question and think for a second.
Well, it sure makes sense on its own. In fact, many rulers in ancient through even modern times look to religious leaders for guidance. OK, so it passes that test.
Second, ask yourself: does the source support this statement?
In other words: does the stimulus include any priests? It does not - it includes a god. The caption reads that Hammurabi is receiving the law from Shamash the sun god. A is NOT the correct answer.
(B) Rulers asserted that royal laws were superior to divine laws.
OK, A is out. Let's look at B.
The statement itself makes no sense. With that said, we can also rule B out as well by pointing out who is giving/presenting versus receiving the law. Shamash is giving the law to Hammurabi which means that Hammurabi received the law from a god - the law is therefore of divine revelation and will be used in Hammurabi's kingdom. B is NOT the correct answer.
(C) Rulers created new religions to unify conquered peoples.
Again, let's give it our "truth test" like we did before - this statement seems fishy. In fact, I would flat out call it false on account of it being overstated. Were people converted to existing religions or allowed to mix their religious beliefs when conquered? You betcha. Creating a new religion to unify conquered people though seems like an awful lot of work.
Further, it doesn't quite fit the stimulus. C is NOT the correct answer.
(D) Rulers claimed that their authority derived directly from divine power.
Well, by process of elimination, hopefully you know the answer now. With that said, what makes it correct? Let's cite the trusty Course and Exam Description, shall we? We will go to Key Concept 1.3 on account of the fact that this is about an empire during period 1. When you become more familiar with the Key Concepts you'll learn more about this later. I'm looking at p. 43 of the CED below:
OK so this has some information about legal codes - what about religion? Well, religion is covered later on in the course a bit more fully at the beginning of Period 2 and during that time we learn that religion is kind of a big deal in this course. One of the big roles of religion is to legitimize, or give authority to, kings and rulers. Similar to Hammurabi we we will study another example of this, the Mandate of Heaven - which is a great example of synthesis, but i won't confuse you more.
So - does the choice follow our requirement of being historically true? Yes.
Bear in mind that some questions will have all choices being historically true. Your task is to understand the question well enough to apply your historical thinking skills and make the right choice.
What about connecting to the stimulus? I would say that a sun god giving a king a code of laws definitely fits with answer choice D.
With this set of reasoning, go ahead and try the remaining questions. Answer key below.
Freeman-pedia, "AP World History Exam" section by Mr. Freeman
Course and Exam Description for AP World History Effective Fall 2017 by the College Board
(Questions taken from 2016 CED)
ANSWERS: 1 D, 2 D, 3 B