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How Watching Forrest Gump Got Me a 5 on AP United States History


The best advice Ms. Settle gave me was to watch Forrest Gump to study for APUSH. 

It was April. To be very honest, my knowledge of Unit 8 was nonexistent, and my APUSH grade for the trimester was a C, something that had never happened in my life. I was behind for a good month’s worth of Guided Readings, and there were several other homework assignments that I hadn’t finished because APUSH was very work-intensive. My time was finite and non-APUSH related fictional books on booktok seemed rather interesting compared to APUSH homework. In an effort to catch up, I decided to learn APUSH in the most hardcore manner and watch all the AP daily videos on the College Board for APUSH and take notes on them, not the smartest decision that I’ve ever made. I decided, as every other lazy girl would, to start by watching videos on the easiest unit for me, Unit 5. Halfway through Unit 5, I had written about 10 pages of notes, and I was getting a little tired of the whole AP daily thing, so I decided to stop. 

Then, Ms. Settle decided to spend a good five minutes passionately telling us about how we should all watch Forrest Gump, and I was a little skeptical because it sounded like a major time commitment.

After I finished the remnants of my homework and went through all of my notes for the year. At this point, it was a week before the AP, and my knowledge on Unit 8 was still rather lacking. Then, it just randomly occurred to me: I should watch Forrest Gump. 

Forrest Gump was able to explore some of the most important parts from the beginning to the end of Unit 8. The movie starts with the Civil Rights Movement, as the narrator, Forrest Gump, witnesses the desegregation of schools, the March on Selma, and Governor George Wallace blocking the entrance to the University of Alabama to prevent black kids from entering in an attempt to maintain segregation within schools. Throughout the movie, the ‘70s Hippy Culture is heavily integrated into the plotline, as the main love interest leaves her small-town life with Forrest behind and becomes a hippie experimenting with drugs and partying at discos. The Vietnam War was probably the most significant event of the era featured in the movie. After graduating college, Forrest enlisted in the army. Soon he became another confused soldier marching through the endless Vietnam rain and watching the United States lose battles miserably. During the war he was injured, and he had to stay at the medical ward. During this time he learned ping pong and became proficient quickly. Shortly after, Forrest played ping pong for the United States in Ping Pong Diplomacy, in which the United States attempted to improve its relationship with China. The Watergate Scandal was the final major historical event in which Forrest partook. Forrest was the one who saw the lights coming from the Watergate Building and made the call to the hotel complaining about the lights, as they were keeping him from sleeping. This led to the investigation of the Watergate Scandal.

Not only does Forrest Gump provide a good timeline for Unit 8, but it also happens to be a very gripping, heart wrenching, and memorable story. Most importantly, I still remember the important APUSH terminology and events in Forrest now even though it’s been about six months since I watched the movie. Forrest Gump is the perfect Unit 8 movie watch before the APUSH test.

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