How to Craft a Robust LEQ Thesis: Key Steps and Techniques

The Long Essay Question (LEQ) forms an integral part of the AP examination. It tests your ability to articulate a thesis and substantiate it with evidence and historical reasoning.

Understanding the LEQ

An LEQ asks you to write about a specific topic related to world, US, or European history. It involves constructing a robust thesis answerable through historical evidence and reasoning. The thesis must be placed in either the introduction or conclusion section of your essay, and it must be a few consecutive sentences long.

writing gaming and coffee

Stages of Handling the LEQ

Creating a successful LEQ involves several stages:

  • Planning: Before you start writing, take some time to analyze the prompt and plan your essay. Even if you are pressured with time, planning is critical to your success.
  • Brainstorming: Break down the question and understand the requested reasoning skill. From there, brainstorm what you know about the topic, separating ideas into context or evidence notes.
  • Writing: After successfully creating a plan you like, you can start writing. Ensure your introductory paragraph includes contextualization and a complex thesis. Remember, your body paragraphs will vary in length but should maintain a consistent structure.

Writing a Complex Thesis

The thesis is the backbone of your essay. It introduces your main argument or claim, which is then supported with evidence and analysis. A strong thesis must be “historically defensible” – the evidence you present must be plausible.

Frequently, a complex thesis incorporates a counterclaim or an alternate viewpoint.

fountain pen writing

Importance of Contextualization

Contextualization involves providing a brief statement that outlines the broader historical background relevant to the prompt that can help readers understand the specific topic and argument you’re making. This is typically included in your introduction. Your contextualization must refer to events, developments and/or processes beyond the prompt’s time and place and must be connected to your thesis or argument.

Use of Evidence

Evidence is the backbone of your LEQ argument. Your evidence is drawn directly from your historical knowledge. Good evidence is accurate, relevant to the prompt, and specific.

Evidence should substantially populate your main body paragraphs, with each paragraph ideally having two pieces of quality evidence or more.

writing in the morning

Analysis and Reasoning

Beyond having evidence, this phase is about using that evidence to support your argument. The recurring theme in your essay: connect your evidence back to your topic sentence and/or thesis. A good argument needs structure and your reasoning skills to create that structure.

Role of Complexity

The College Board rewards essays that demonstrate a complex understanding of the topic of the prompt. A complex argument often starts with a complex thesis, which can include a counter-claim or an alternate viewpoint.

writing notes


The art of writing an LEQ entails creating a sophisticated thesis, providing contextual information, and supporting the thesis with historical evidence. Mastering the elements of crafting an LEQ might seem overwhelming at first, but with practice, it becomes much easier and leads to great success in your AP exams.

Related articles

Leave a Comment