How do I Determine Which Short Answer / ID topics Might be on the Test?
The key here is to understand which issues, events, people, and overall topics
are SIGNIFICANT, and which are not. This is easier than it sounds. If an event or
individual had an impact on something that occurred later in history, then that event
or individual is likely to be significant. If an event or individual relates to one
or more of the five key themes of the course, then that event or individual is likely
to be significant. In other words, the greater the change, the greater the significance.
Numbers are rarely significant. For example, Union and Confederate military forces at the Battle of Antietam suffered a combined total of 23,000 casualties (killed, wounded, missing, and POW) in one day. Is this significant? Not really, since you could remove "23,000" and substitute any large number and still be pretty horrified by the extent of the carnage. Antietam was the bloodiest single day in American history. Is this significant? Perhaps, but remember that SOME day must have been the bloodiest day in American history; it doesn't really matter which day that was. The Union victory at Antietam gave President Lincoln the opportunity to introduce the Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves (sort of). Is that significant? You better believe it, because the decision to issue the Emancipation Proclamation added the abolition of slavery to the already stated Union war aim of restoring the Union. For that reason, the Battle of Antietam might appear as an ID topic (because it resulted in a document that changed the direction of the war). Better still, the Emancipation Proclamation itself would be an excellent ID topic because it relates to one of the five key themes of the course (slavery) and because it changed the course of the war by introducing the destruction of slavery as a major war aim.
A topic like "the Civil War" would be much too broad for a one-paragraph ID answer. Likewise, a topic like "General James Longstreet" is much too narrow for a one-paragraph ID topic. Longstreet was certainly an important individual, by we will not spend much time talking about him in this class; nor (at least for the purposes of this class) did he have any significant impact on the outcome of the war, on the restoration of the Union, or on the abolition of slavery.
One you have determined some possible ID topics, the rest is fairly easy. You have a choice of five topics on the second exam; answer the three that you are most familiar with. Use proper sentence-paragraph format (no lists on this exam) and be certain to mention such basic issues as WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, WHY, and HOW. Above all, discuss the significance of this event or individual. Use a template like "_____________ was significant because . . . ," then go on to describe how this event or individual affected (created lasting change) this nation and the world.