AP World History: Modern Units 7, 8 and 9 all focus on the period from 1900 to the present day, but Unit 7 is specifically about the wars – large and small – that the world saw during this historical time period.
Unit 7 is all about Global Conflict. It covers material from c. 1900 to the present as it encompasses both World Wars and makes up about 8–10% of the AP Exam.
🚩 Freemanpedia has a great overview of this period here!
AP World Unit 7 Key Concepts
These questions are simply guiding questions and are not meant to be practice essay questions.
What caused the shift in power from the beginning of the 20th century to the modern-day? What power structures remained intact?
What were the causes and effects of both World Wars?
Compare and contrast World War One with World War Two. How were they fought? Why were they different? Explain similarities and differences in how governments used a variety of methods to conduct war.
What led to the mass genocides of this time period? Why did they happen during this time period specifically? What is the definition of genocide?
Synthesizing all of your information about this period, consider what caused the global conflicts of the 20th century. What were the most important factors?
Past Questions on AP World Unit 7
The AP World History exam has seen major revisions in recent years, so the format of earlier questions-specifically those from 2017 and before-are not exactly the way that questions will be asked on the test. The College Board website provides great information about the current formatting of the test and current examples of SAQs/DBQs/LEQs.
The following outline is derived from the College Board's Course and Exam Description, found here.
7.1 | Shifting Power After 1900
Through the major global conflicts of the first half of the century, emerging land treaties affected some nations more than others.
Empires collapsed (ex: Austro-Hungary and Ottomans).
Nations were formed (ex: Latvia, Czechoslovakia).
Three major land empires collapsed.
The Qing Dynasty
The Russian Empire
The Ottoman Empire
After WWII, many former colonies were able to successfully demand their independence.
They did this through peaceful methods (India) or with violence (Kenya).
This topic is covered more intensively in Unit 8 (link TBA).
States challenged existing political and social structures.
Mexican Revolution: A movement campaigning for election reform spiraled into a ten-year rebellion. It led to the writing of a new Mexican constitution that guaranteed reforms in areas such as education and voting.
East Asia Demonstrations: The May Fourth (China) and March First (Korea) movements
Regional Conflicts: Across the globe, various movements popped up based on religious or ethnic identity (Ex: Quebecois Independence movement, Muslim League).
Anti-Imperialist Movements: Various movements arose in European colonies seeking independence in the face of colonial power-structures. This topic is covered more intensively in Unit 8.
Militarism: A belief that a strong military should be maintained and used for the good of the nation if need be. The period before WWI was marked by strong military rivalry and arms build-up, as well as an increase in influence from those in the military in countries like Germany and Russia.
Alliances: The complicated series of alliances European powers were involved in dragged many nations into war once it began (Ex: Triple Alliance, Franco-Russian alliance, Belgian-British relations, Triple Entente).
Nationalism: Growing nationalist sentiment fed militarism and the desire to use weaponry to expand the glory of the state. It also made ethnically diverse nations such as Austro-Hungary unstable, fueling conflict.
Imperialism: The scramble for colonies broke the balance of power established by the Congress of Vienna and expanded the scale of WWI until it was a truly global war with immense consequences.
Assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand: On June 28th, 1914, he was killed by Serbian nationalist Gavrilo Princip.
7.3 | Conducting World War I
Nations adopted the strategy of total war on the home front.
Total War Definition: Total War is a war strategy where a nation's domestic population, as well as the military, are involved in the war process. This term has been used to describe the American Civil War and later categorizes WWII as well.
Factories were utilized to make war materials; with the men off to war, women would take their place as factory workers
Governments created production quotas, price and wage controls, and ration systems.
Those who spoke out against war efforts were often censured (ex: German-Americans during WWI).
Propaganda (communications used to influence people's attitudes that are often skewed) was used to recruit men and vilify the enemy.
On the extreme end of the scale, planned economies such as those in Stalin's Russia and Mao's China often implemented repressive policies, to the detriment of the populace.
USSR: Five-Year Plan
China: Great Leap Forward
7.5 | Unresolved Tensions after World War I
The major imperial states of the time (including Japan) maintained or gained control over lands, sparking resistance and resentment.
Division of Ottoman Empire and former German colonies into Mandates
Invasion of Manchuria in 1931 by Japan; the formation of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere
A great deal of anti-imperial resistance emerged as a result of this unchanging/worsening status quo.
Transnational movements, such as Pan-Arabism and Pan-Africanism, emerged after WWI.
Communism was also used as a tool of anti-imperialism in nations such as Vietnam.
Nationalist movements and organizations, fueled by an increase in education, were established and came to resist imperialism (ex: Indian National Congress, 1885, West African resistance to French rule).
7.6 | Causes of World War II
Remember the acronym FIGURE:
Fascist and Totalitarian Regimes: Nationalist, one-party regimes were established in Italy and Germany, led by Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. In Japan, military rule arose under Emperor Hirohito.
Imperialism: Germany, Italy and Japan all began to seek territory and were willing to use their military to do so.
Global Economic Crisis: The economic instability that the Great Depression caused helped encourage the rise of fascism and militarism.
Unsustainable Peace Settlement: Although the Axis nations became more and more aggressive in their land grabs, the French and British pursued a policy of appeasement, failing to take significant action. The League of Nations could also do little to stop the Axis nations.
Racism: Nazi beliefs about race and society played a large role in justifying their expansionist policies and their atrocities during the war.
Expansion of Fascist Regimes: World War Two officially started on September 1st, 1939, when Germany invaded Poland. Conflict in the Pacific Theater started much earlier with the Japanese invasion of China in 1937.
7.7 | Conducting World War II
World War II, like World War I, was a total war, meaning both the militaries and the domestic populations of countries were involved in warfare.
Under Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt, the United States and Britain joined forces with agreements such as the Lend-Lease Act, which allowed the United States to lend war materials to Britain.
When the United States joined the war effort in 1941, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, they mobilized their undamaged factories and ramped up their production of everything from ammunition to aircraft. This gave the American economy the boost it needed and allowed women unprecedented access to jobs.
Colonies of the Allied Powers, such as India, also joined the war, making it a truly global conflict.
The Axis Powers were less successful in their mobilization efforts: certain attitudes and policies made their war machines less effective as time went on.
Propaganda and art were used heavily by both sides as well.
The Holocaust was the genocide of as many as 12 million people by the fascist Nazi regime; 6 million of these were Jews. The Holocaust was notable for its especially brutal, systematic, and premeditated nature.
The use of new military technology saw casualty rates rise.