AP World History Long Essay Question Example 1

Once you have written out your own response to LEQ 1, review our sample answer below and evaluate what earns this AP World History LEQ example a perfect score.


Evaluate the impact of the trans-Saharan trade routes on the exchange of goods, cultures, and ideas in Africa and the Islamic world during the period c. 1200–1750. 

Analyze the role of trade networks in shaping societies and economies during this era.


Sample Answer:

Thesis/Claim (1 point): The trans-Saharan trade routes played a pivotal role in facilitating the exchange of goods, cultures, and ideas between regions in Africa and the Islamic world during the period c. 1200–1750, leading to significant economic, cultural, and technological advancements.

Contextualization (1 point): Before the emergence of the trans-Saharan trade routes, both Africa and the Islamic world experienced dynamic historical developments. In Africa, the Kingdom of Ghana flourished as a major trading empire, while in the Islamic world, the spread of Islam led to increased cultural diffusion and intellectual growth. These developments set the stage for the establishment of the trans-Saharan trade networks.

Evidence (2 points): The trans-Saharan trade routes facilitated extensive exchanges between regions. One specific example of this exchange is the trade of gold from West Africa for salt and textiles from North Africa. The availability of gold in West Africa, particularly in the Mali Empire, spurred demand for North African goods. This trade not only enriched both regions economically but also led to cultural exchanges. Furthermore, the introduction of new crops such as sorghum and millet to West Africa from the Islamic world improved agricultural practices, leading to increased food production and population growth.

Another significant development is the spread of Islam along these trade routes. As merchants and traders traveled across the Sahara, they also brought Islamic culture and religion with them. This resulted in the conversion of some African societies to Islam, creating a cultural and religious connection between regions. Additionally, the construction of notable centers of learning such as Timbuktu in Mali became hubs for intellectual exchange, where scholars from Africa and the Islamic world gathered to share knowledge.

Analysis and Reasoning (2 points): The trans-Saharan trade routes not only connected regions economically but also fostered cultural and intellectual exchanges. This is evident in the adoption of Islamic practices and the establishment of centers of learning in West Africa. Furthermore, the trade in goods such as gold and salt played a vital role in the economic development of both regions.

To achieve a more complex understanding, it’s essential to consider that while the trans-Saharan trade routes brought about positive exchanges, they also had challenges, such as the harsh desert environment and the impact on local communities. Nevertheless, the overall impact was largely beneficial, contributing to the growth and interconnectedness of African and Islamic societies.

In conclusion, the trans-Saharan trade routes during the period c. 1200–1750 were instrumental in promoting economic, cultural, and intellectual exchanges between regions in Africa and the Islamic world. This interconnectedness resulted in mutual enrichment and the spread of Islamic culture and knowledge.

Total Points: 6

This essay provides a historically defensible thesis, relevant contextualization, specific evidence, and a well-structured analysis, earning a perfect score according to the 2023 AP World LEQ Rubric.


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