WHAP - Mr. Duez                                FRQ - Free Response Question: The CCOT

AP ESSAY WRITING                                Writing the Continuity and Change Over Time Essay

The continuity and change-over-time (CCOT) questions asks what has changed and what has not. These include a definite time span for analysis. Fortunately, most questions give you some amount of choice. Although you cannot choose the topic or time period, you will probably be asked to choose one or two countries, religions, or cultures, from a set that is provided to you.

The Complexity of Change and Continuity: Imagine a simple timeline that represents your own life. If you were to note the 10-12 most important events on your timeline, what might that timeline look like, and how would you analyze the changes and continuities of your own life? Consider the hypothetical example below.

This timeline would need revisions in order to be accurate, various types of each change and/or continuity:

If you were to use this timeline as an outline to help you write your autobiography, you’d want to be sure to make clear the nature of each change or continuity in your life. Your reader would want you to specifically note the amount, pace, location, and significance of whatever changes you described. Additionally, your autobiography would be woefully incomplete without noting the characteristics of your life that haven’t changed, because it is those fundamental continuities in your life that form the background and context for understanding and interpreting the changes in your life. Lastly, good writing would require you to analyze the reasons for the continuities and changes (What caused each continuity or change? Why were some changes sudden, while others were gradual?)

Now convert these principles from the autobiographical timeline example to an actual CCOT essay and you’ll quickly realize why the CCOT has earned a reputation as the hardest essay on the APWH exam. It requires students to quantify the nature, amount, and timing of continuity and change. Merely acknowledging continuity and change isn’t sufficient. Essays should note the amount, timing, location, causes, and effects of continuity and change relevant to the question. The more specific you can be about these characteristics, the better your score.

~So how does one do this?~

Read the question carefully. Although this is obvious and unnecessary to mention, it is the biggest mistake that thousands of students make each year. Those students don't specifically answer the question. Usually because their response is closely related to the question, but is off topic in one or more significant ways. You need to be sure you are clear on exactly what you are expected to do.  Some things to consider in your mind while reading the question are:

Brainstorm and create a framework for your essay. The more work you do before you write, the neater and more organized your essay will be. This is to provide you with an outline for the essay, and to make sure you did not miss any part of the question. To begin, choose the number of topics as instructed. Then create an outline mentioning these:

Consider the sample CCOT question below:

Describe and analyze continuities and changes in the impact of nomads on ONE of the following areas from 600 to 1450.  

China, Russia, Middle East (Islamic World)

What is the question asking you to do? (What’s the verb in the question? Restate in your own words.)

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O.K., now what is the object of the verb? (Analyze what? where? when?)

Make sure you focus your essay so that it answers ALL of these key characteristics.

What  ______________________________________________________________________

Where    _____________________________________________________________________

When ______________________________________________________________________

Organize your essay. Choose an essay structure. There's no "best" structure, so you can organize the essay any way you like, as long as you answer the question correctly.

    Construct your thesis paragraph. This is critical and must be supported by facts. Answer the question by including key phrases from the question, support each of your assertions with some introductory evidence (save the details for the body of the essay), and transition the readers from the thesis to the body of the essay with a phrase like, "To better understand the changes that occurred during this time..." A successful thesis statement has specific information on both changes and continuities.

     Write it! Now that you're done with the planning, it's time to begin the actual essay. Ensure that you address each portion of the question and support your claims with evidence.

Here are some major things to include in your essay:

Possible Essay Structures:

Chronological Essay Structure

Thesis Paragraph

Background (Optional)

Thesis Statement (1-2 sentences)

“Road Map” of later paragraphs

Body Paragraph #1: Early/Beginning Time Period

• Beginning Situation (start with “changing from what?” so the reader can recognize the later changes in the paragraph)

• Change(s) at/near beginning date, including description of the type of change (sudden, gradual, etc.)

• Evidence of change (if possible, name a specific example that represents this change)

• Analysis of the process of change (What caused the changes? What were the later effects? How did

these changes propel history into the next chronological era?)

• Comparison to the larger Global Context (How do the examples in this paragraph compare to the larger world context during the same time period or during the next time period?)

Body Paragraph #2: Middle Time Period. (same characteristics as above)

Body Paragraph #3: Late/Ending Period (same characteristics as above)

Body Paragraph #4: Continuities

• What characteristics exist throughout the entire time period?

• Analysis of the continuities (What caused the continuities?)

• Global Context (How do these examples of continuities compare to the larger world context during the

same time period?)

Concluding Paragraph (recommended, but optional)

Restatement/summarization of Thesis

Chronological Structure Graphic Example:

Topical Essay Structure

Thesis Paragraph

Background (Optional)

Thesis Statement (1-2 sentences)

“Road Map” of later paragraphs

Body Paragraph #1: Topic #1

• Beginning Situation (before you begin to describe changes, start with “changing from what?” so the reader can recognize the later changes in the paragraph)

• Change(s), including description of the type of change (sudden, gradual, etc.)

• Evidence of change (if possible, name a specific example that represents this change)

• Analysis of the process of change (What caused the changes? What were the later effects? How did these changes propel history into the next chronological era?)

• Continuity (What characteristics of this topic exist throughout the entire time period?)

• Comparison to the larger Global Context (How do the examples of continuity and change in this paragraph compare to the larger world context during the same time period or during the next time period?)

Body Paragraph #2: Topic #2 (same characteristics as above)

Body Paragraph #3: Topic #3 (same characteristics as above)

Body Paragraph #4: Topic #4 (same characteristics as above)

Concluding Paragraph (recommended, but optional)

Restatement/summarization of Thesis

Topical Structure Graphical Representation:

Step 4: Write the Thesis Paragraph

Using your Evidence notes from Step 2, here’s a blank Thesis paragraph “template.”

Background / Introduction (Optional)

Some people prefer to write a “warm up” sentence rather than starting immediately with their thesis.

Feel free to “set the context or background,” but do NOT take more than one sentence to do so.

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My Thesis (1-2 sentences)

Suggestion: Begin your thesis sentence with “While,” “Although,” “Despite,” or “In spite of.”

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The rest of the Thesis Paragraph (“Road Map”)

Now summarize the main points that you’ll use to support or prove your thesis. The second part of the Thesis Paragraph should preview the topic sentences of your later paragraphs. By the time your reader finishes the Thesis Paragraph, s/he should know what your thesis is, and have an idea of what evidence you will use to prove it. How do you know what evidence you’ll use to support your thesis? Look back at your notes on the last page.

Those document characteristics that are shared by more than one document now become a “Road Map” previewing the topic sentences of your body paragraphs.

Main Point/Body Paragraph #1

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Main Point/Body Paragraph #2

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Main Point/Body Paragraph #3

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Main Point/Body Paragraph #4 (as needed)

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The Rubric: Like the DBQ and Comparative essays, the CCOT is scored according to a rubric. The rubric is structured into “Core” characteristics and “Expanded Core” (extra credit) characteristics. If an essay earns all 7 “Core” rubric points it is eligible to earn up to an additional 2 points, for a maximum score of 9.

The CCOT “Core” Rubric