AP World Decolonization SAQ Prompt Answers & Feedback

15 min readjanuary 2, 2021

Melissa Longnecker

Melissa Longnecker

AP World History: Modern 🌍

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View student writing samples for the AP World History: Modern SAQ and corresponding feedback provided by Fiveable teacher Melissa Longnecker. It is important to learn what students did correct AND incorrect to improve one's own SAQ writing.

Practice SAQ Prompt

Answer all parts of the question below
  1. Identify ONE similarity in the way that new states became independent in Africa and/or Asia in the period after World War Two (c. 1945 - present)
  2. Explain ONE difference in the way that new states became independent in Africa and/or Asia in the period after World War Two (c. 1945 - present)
  3. Explain how ONE historical development in the period after World War Two (c. 1945 - present) limited the independence of new states.

SAQ Student Answers and Feedback

Practice Submission 1

  1. They rebelled in some way, which lead to independence. An example of this is Cambodia, which declared independence from France in 1945.
  2. Some states, like India, peacefully protested against Britain until they received independence, while others fought for their independence. (I have no clue how to explain this)
  3. After World War 2, many countries were deeply in debt and new states were no exception. When states gained independence before World War 2, they used to be economically dependent on other nations, but now that other countries were struggling to rise up from their debts, they had no money to loan to these new nations.

Teacher Feedback

1. I like the example you’ve included in this one - dates, names, etc. are always good to use when you know them. Because not all states gained independence the same way, you can also think of a similarity statement along the lines of “Many (or most) states in Africa and Asia gained independence by…” and then follow up with an example or detail. 2. your answer here is correct. You need more to fully explain it. One way to do this would be to choose two examples and give a brief reason why they gained independence differently. (In this case it might look something like, “India peacefully protested against Britain until they received independence because _____… while _____ fought violently for their independence because ______.”) 3. This is another great answer. You’re right to note that debt and economic dependence continued after political independence for decolonizing states. The thing I would add to this answer would be an example, if you have one.

Practice Submission 2

  1. One similarity in the construction of new states in the post-colonial era is forming governments largely based off of Western ideals. For example, in India, the body that ultimately achieved India its independence was the Indian National Congress, a parliamentary structure loosely based off of British Parliament. In Turkey, Mustafa Kemal created a new government that was based on Western ideals, like a secular and egalitarian government, and education offered to all citizens.
  2. One difference in how states achieved independence was the means by which they received it. In India, leaders like Mohandas Gandhi peacefully protested and used diplomatic means of political pressure to achieve independence. In the Middle East, however, groups of people fought against colonizing countries in military campaigns. One instance of this is the Pan-Arabism movements, in which certain Arabs promoted a universal Arab identity in order to garner support to fight against Western European colonizers.
  3. After World War II, newly independent countries were forced into heavy reliance on European counterparts. When they were colonized, newly independent countries had economies that were largely designed to be dependent on the countries that colonized them. For instance, many African country’s economies centered on the production of cash crops like rubber and palm oil that were then exported to European countries. This was at the expense of growing necessary sustenance. This forced newly independent states to continue their reliance on other countries, often the ones that had colonized them in the first place

Teacher Feedback

1. This is a great answer. It introduces a clear similarity with specific examples. You are right in your comment that you wouldn’t need to look up Kemal’s name necessarily. You could just describe the Turkish system with as much detail as you can remember. 2. This is another good answer. Clear answer with good details. If possible, try to make sure your details fully connect to your main points (the Pan-Arab movement is a good example, but doesn’t fully address the military campaigns.) You wouldn’t need to change this answer necessarily, but future answers should be as connected as possible. 3. This is a great answer. I notice you’ve given general details about African countries (rather than specific countries), and it actually works really well here. Feel free to do this on other SAQs if you’re stuck on remembering the specific names of people/places!

Practice Submission 3

  1. The end of the second World War brought upon many new independent states in Asia, due to struggling imperial authority, rebellion, or successful coups. Throughout the globe new nations began emerging, and yet they all shared in one thing in common; the rise of anti-imperial sentiments and rebellion, or an overall overthrowing of a previously constrictive government or ruling body. In post-WWII Japan, American occupation dramatically shifted the government and how it functioned, as the new 1947 constitution restricted the emperor’s power and ensured human rights in the nation. On top of that, many of the territories once under Japanese control were forced out of the state’s hand, and for the latter half of the century Japan developed into an entirely different country. Similarly, the emerging new countries of Pakistan (and later Bangladesh) and India were formed after the British empire relinquished control over the regions. After gaining independence in 1947 and right after having the infamous, horrific Partition of India, the countries emerged from a brutal separation based on an effort of independence based on non-violence.
  2. In the aftermath of the second world war, many post-colonial territories became independent states. Although their methods of gaining independence often fell in a similar vein of each other, they differed from one another in their own ways. While some revolutions and independence movements were practiced under relatively peace methods, other countries used more violent methods. The independence of India was mostly a cause of peaceful methods and civil protests against the regime of the British empire; Mahatma Gandhi, one of the most revolutionary leaders at the time, lead non-violent protests throughout the region, such as the Salt March in 1930. In contrast, the independence of the African nation of Algeria, a region which France had a tight grip over and wanted to maintain it that way. Although the revolution started with a few peaceful protests, the 1945 Algerian revolt quickly turned a peaceful demonstration in a bloody conflict, a harbinger of the costly and devastating war of liberation the Algerians would wage against their French oppressors. Hundreds of thousands of civilians and fighters died for their fight for independence, in a direct contrast to India’s more peaceful way of gaining independence (the aftermath of such was decidedly less so).
  3. The rise of communism and other authoritarian institutions after WWII significantly limited the growth and development, and in turn, restricted the free will and true independence of many developing nations. Such a struggle could be seen in the Eastern European countries under Soviet authority, also known as the Eastern Block. Under strict rule from leaders such as Leonid Brezhnev, the countries couldn’t hold free and fair elections, as many of the governments were simply puppets under Soviet eyes. It wasn’t until Mikhail Gorbachev was placed into power that amendments were made and regions under Soviet influence were given democratic freedom, almost at the turn of the 20th century.

Teacher Feedback

One general thing I notice in your responses is the length. It’s a good idea to give detail and explanation to expand your ideas, so keep doing that. If you found you needed to look up a lot of information to make your answers so detailed, it’s also ok to shorten your answers in this SAQ format. Generally, we’re looking for very to-the-point answers, so you don’t need an intro phrase or any of the other flourishes you’d want in a longer format answer. You can also usually get away with just one key example, rather than several, in an SAQ response. 1. This is a good answer. I wouldn’t have thought of including Japan as an example of a newly-independent country, but you’ve made a good case for comparing it with India here. 2. Another good answer. Remember, you can shorten these by giving just one example from India and Algeria to show their difference, rather than elaborating with such detail. (If you remember the detail on your own, and can create these answers in the time allotted, have at it.) 3. This is a good answer, and really different from the way I usually see this question addressed. I like the link to Communism restricting independence.

Practice Submission 4

  1. One similarity in the way that new states became independent in Africa and/or Asia in the period after World War Two is that colonies built governments of the west.
  2. One difference is that countries in Africa were decolonized because of wars whereas colonies in Asia were decolonized because of peaceful, nonviolent protests. For example, Algeria was liberated in 1962 only after a bloody civil war with France but India was decolonized because of protests by leaders such as Gandhi.
  3. ONE historical development in the period after World War Two (c. 1945 - present) limited the independence of new states is the dependence of former colonies on their European Colonizers. This limited the states because the Europeans were able to control a lot of the former colonies’ operations. Furthermore, these recently decolonized places sold only cash crops which is why those countries were colonized

Teacher Feedback

1. You’re right to think that this answer doesn’t need as much detail, since it’s phrased as an “identify” prompt. I would clarify what you mean by “colonies built governments of the west.” I think I know what you’re going for here… but I’m not exactly sure. Do you mean Western-style or Western-inspired governments? Or something else? 2. This is a good start to this answer. The examples here are really good and they go a long way to clarify your initial statement. The opening sentence is probably a bit too broad, since not all countries in Africa or Asia decolonized in the same way (Vietnam’s decolonization was very violent, after all.) 3. This is a good start to this answer. You’re right to remember that former colonies remained dependent on their former colonizers. Can you give an example and explain why?

Practice Submission 5

  1. One similarity the many states Africa had with gaining independence was that they rebelled violently because they felt they were oppressed and that they should fight for their independence. One example of this would be the Mau Mau movement in 1952 where freedom fighters fought British soldiers to leave Kenya as a independent state.
  2. One difference other states had was that they gained independence peacefully. They felt that the bloodshed and suffering was pointless and unnecessary. An example of this would be the
  3. With the end of WWII, there came a rise in communism, especially in the Soviet Union. They would conquer newly created states to spread communism around the world. With the new countries being conquered, they lose the independence they just gained.

Teacher Feedback

1. This is a good start to this response. I’m especially glad to see a specific example to support your main idea. Remember in a similarity question that you will want to address an idea that relates to more than one place. In this case, giving another short example like the Mau Mau would show the similarity you’re talking about here. 2. In SAQs, we try to treat the pieces independently. In this case that means that you would want to separate part 2 from part 1. You would want an example each of a peaceful and a violent independence movement to support this response. 3. This is an interesting answer. I like the way you’re thinking about the USSR restricting the freedoms of some states. Giving an example of which state(s) were restricted in this way would strengthen your answer and connect it to the idea of the prompt (limited independence for new states.)

Practice Submission 6

  1. The use of violence to become independent is one similarity in which new states became independent in Africa and Asia in the period after World War Two.
  2. The level of hostility is one difference in the way that new states became independent in Asia in the period after World War Two. India was able to gain independence from Britain through peaceful methods, but the Dutch East Indies fought the Dutch in order to free themselves and come to be known as Indonesia. The attempts by India and the Dutch East Indies to gain independence showed that the level of hostility differed greatly throughout Asia from passive attempts in India to very hostile attempts in the Dutch East Indies.
  3. The Cold War was one historical development which limited the independence of new states in the period after World War Two. In the events leading up to the Cold War, the USSR spread its communist influence primarily in Eastern Europe and set up the Eastern Bloc. As the Cold War grew colder, the USSR tightened its control on the Eastern Bloc with COMNIFORM and by suppressing revolts in the Eastern Bloc. The USSR’s influence on the Eastern Bloc shows that the independence of Eastern Bloc countries is very limited as COMNIFORM tightened the grip of the USSR and by suppressing revolts, the USSR revealed it’s power over their satellite states.

Teacher Feedback

1. Since this was an “identify” prompt, this answer would work. I would be inclined to add one more sentence giving an example of at least two states that had a violent struggle for independence, just to confirm that you really know your history. 2. This answer works really well too. You’ve given clear examples and connected them back to a good answer for this prompt! 3. his answer works well. I like the explanation for how the USSR limited the independence of Eastern Bloc countries. If you were going to improve this response, you might give an example of a place affected by COMINFORM, or specify how that limited the independence of those states. It works well as written, though… so this is just me being picky.

Practice Submission 7

  1. One similarity in the way new states became independent in Africa and Asia in the period after World War Two was their immediate action realizing that the European countries were weakened by World War Two. For example, the French Indochina states declared independence from the French as soon as 1946 a year after the end of WWII and were able to win against the French army which had a severe loss in men from WWII.
  2. One difference in the way that new states became independent in Africa and in Asia in the period after World War Two was the means that they pursued their freedom. For example, India had a peaceful rebellion against the British while states like Algeria had used Guerrilla warfare, an irregular warfare form in which combat is done through combat groups similar to terrorism.
  3. One historical development in the period after World War Two that limited the independence of new states was the Cold War. As new states formed they either allied with the USSR and their allies or the US & their respective allies depending on the government form they chose to rule their state with. This limited the independence of the new states because while they were given money to develop their country, they were forced to act as a political puppet for either the USSR or the US.

Teacher Feedback

1. This is a really thoughtful answer. One way you could strengthen it would be to give a more concise detail about French Indochina (this is a great example, by the way!) and then one more quick example of another state that acted quickly after WWII. This would highlight the similarity you’re trying to prove. 2. This answer is great. It’s just the right balance between concise and detailed! 3. This is another really thoughtful answer. It includes a good amount of detail, with the needed analysis to make it complete.

Practice Submission 8

  1. One similarity in the way that new states became independent in Africa after world war two is that they were the effect of decolonization (the end of colonization). An example is Egypt, which got its independence after Britain left the colony.
  2. One difference in the way that new states became independent in Africa and Asia is whether they had violent or non-violent anti-imperialism. While violent attacks (from colonies) on imperialism was usually the product of angry colonies, restrictive governments, and past violent attack successes (guerrila warfare was used in US swamp states before Algeria and Vietnam), non-violent attacks demonstrated the nonviolence and political change after World War Two (people were afraid a third world war would start, and wanted peace after the casualties).
  3. The Cold war presented an imbalance of political and economic power to favor capitalist US and communist USSR, and this limited the independence of new states. One reason was because they often pressured other countries to become either capitalist or communist, and in doing so absorbed more states into their spheres of influence. Moreover, the cold war presented the stashing of nuclear weapons on either side, and this was a threat to allies of capitalism or communism because small states could easily be demolished by the opposite side’s superpower.

Teacher Feedback

1. Any time a prompt asks you to make a comparison (a similarity, in this case), be sure that you include two things to compare. If Egypt gained independence from Britain (how?), be sure to include another example of a state that gained its independence the same way. 2. This is a good start to this response. You can continue to strengthen your comparative writing by showing how or why the two examples differ. 3. This is another good start. You’re right to be thinking about the Cold War as something that limited independence for new states. Be sure to explain how and connect your answer to the newly independent states the prompt asks about.

Practice Submission 9

  1. The process of gaining independence always involved the hard work of the people living in the country. For instance, Indian independence is famous for the massive rebellions led by Gandhi and his ideas of nonviolence. It is true that the work of the people did not always cause their independence. The colonies of the Axis Powers could gain independence as soon as the war was over, regardless of the people’s work. However, that does not mean the process of gaining independence in those countries was not accompanied by massive protests. The period of colonial rule in Korea, for example, was characterized by active resistance against Japanese authorities, although the was liberated as soon as Japan lost in the war, In short, although not always the main cause of a country’s independence, resistance against the colonial rulers were always a part of the independence process.
  2. Independence was not always about escaping colonial rule, although it was what it meant in many countries. In South Africa, the process of gaining independence included resisting against the apartheid policies and removing the Afrikaners and the British minority from dominating the political field. Although the country was freed from British colonial rule decades before, the country’s true independence took place in 1994.
  3. The Cold War and the conflicting ideas of communism and democracy led to unsatisfying outcomes for many countries. Korea is a case on point. Although the country gained independence on August 15, 1945, that independence led to a separation of the country that has lasted even till now. This separation was largely caused by the conflict between the United States and the USSR, with the USSR taking control over the northern part of the country and promoting a communist government, and the United States supporting a democratic government in the south.

Teacher Feedback

1. This answer has some great detail. It does wander a bit away from the task of the prompt. In this case, a strong response would simply identify a similarity among newly decolonized states with just enough detail/examples to show you understand what you’re talking about. You wouldn’t need quite this much information in this type of prompt. 2. Both parts 1 and 2 are comparative tasks, so its important that your response is comparative too. For this difference, it’s a good idea to include two brief examples that highlight the clear difference you’re trying to prove. 3. You’re right to think about the Cold War for this prompt. To strengthen your response, think about how the competition between the US and USSR limited the independence of other states. I think you could keep your example of Korea, with a little more explanation to connect back to the prompt.

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