How to Write a CCOT Essay

The continuity and change-over-time (CCOT) questions asks what has changed and what has not. These include a definite time span for analysis. Fortunately, most questions give you some amount of choice. Although you cannot choose the topic or time period, you will probably be asked to choose one or two countries, religions, or cultures, from a set that is provided to you.[1]

These are just the overall view of CCOT essays. Below are steps on how to write one yourself!


  1. Image titled Write a CCOT Essay Step 1
    Read the question carefully. Although this is obvious and unnecessary to mention, it is the biggest mistake that thousands of students make each year. Those students don't specifically answer the question. Usually because their response is closely related to the question, but is off topic in one or more significant ways. You need to be sure you are clear on exactly what you are expected to do. Some things to consider in your mind while reading the question are:
    • What is the question asking me to do?
    • How can I reword this so I can better understand it?
    • What are some keywords to underline and make a note of?
    • What is the time period?
    • In what area in the world am I supposed to analyze?
  2. Image titled Write a CCOT Essay Step 2
    Brainstorm and create a framework for your essay. The more work you do before you write, the neater and more organized your essay will be. This is to provide you with an outline for the essay, and to make sure you did not miss any part of the question. To begin, choose the number of topics as instructed. Then create an outline mentioning these:
    • Baseline: What was its role in the world in 1400s/pre-technology?
    • Impact: What technologies had an impact on it? Why and in what way?
    • Change: What changes occurred to its role in the world as a result of the technology?
    • Continuity: What remained the same despite technological innovations?[2]
  3. Image titled Write a CCOT Essay Step 3
    Organize your essay. Choose an essay structure. There's no "best" structure, so you can organize the essay any way you like, as long as you answer the question correctly. Below is an example of a table organization.
  4. Image titled Write a CCOT Essay Step 4
    Construct your thesis paragraph. This is critical and must be supported by facts. Answer the question by including key phrases from the question, support each of your assertions with some introductory evidence (save the details for the body of the essay), and transition the readers from the thesis to the body of the essay with a phrase like, "To better understand the changes that occurred during this time..." [3] A successful thesis statement has specific information on both changes and continuities.
  5. Image titled Write a CCOT Essay Step 5
    Write it! Now that you're done with the planning, it's time to begin the actual essay. Ensure that you address each portion of the question and support your claims with evidence. Here are some major things to include in your essay:
    • Use relevant world historical context effectively to explain change over time and continuity.
    • Describe how events in one place relate to the big picture. Discuss the global context of the changes and continuities. Show comparison to other regions, connections to global processes, and interactions among regions. A simple statement is all that is required to earn this basic core point. Think BIG! [4]
    • Discuss how things were prior to the change, and then clarify why things changed. You MUST cover the historical development!
    • Contrast with the starting point and what remained the same.


  • Make notes, jot ideas, create an outline and framework. This is necessary in order to write a good essay.
  • Keep an eye on your time. You do not want to spend too much time on this one essay, running out of time on the rest.
  • Write neatly. An essay that cannot be read will not receive a good score. It does not have to be perfectly written, as long as you can read it.
  • Choose another word if you can't spell it. Although spelling mistakes and grammar errors would not deduct points, poor spelling can cast a shadow on the rest of your essay.
  • Create a timeline of events to sort out your historical information in order.
  • Analyze your information for the essay.


  • Avoid cursive, especially if your handwriting is messy, as it may be harder for the AP essay readers. Don't have too many scribbles on the paper, for it may make it harder for the grader to read.

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Categories: Essays | Advanced Placement Courses and Exams