writing a CCOT essay

How to Write a CCOT (Continuity and Change Over Time) Essay

Basically, CCOT stands for continuity and change-over-time, so in this type of task, you have to explore the dynamics of a particular subject and explain how it transformed over time. 

In fact, its purpose is to evaluate students' ability to analyze historical changes that shaped social, political, technological, and economic developments or affected global processes. 

Generally, the CCOT essay is a type of writing required at the Advanced Placement United States History (APUSH) examination. However, you might be asked to complete a CCOT essay in other settings and disciplines. 

You can think about CCOT in different ways. For example, you may discuss in your essay whether change outweighs continuity or focus on the cause and effects of a primary change in a certain era.

How to Write a CCOT Essay

  1. Formulate your thesis statement 

Simply put, a thesis statement is a summary of your essay argument. As for a COOT essay, you must refer to both continuity and change, so you can follow the next formula when creating a thesis:

Over the time period between (x) and (y) in (location), (continuity)x3, remained constant in (topic), while there were significant changes in (topic) such as (change)x3.  

Usually, it’s fine to make your thesis not longer than one sentence. But note that you should include at least two continuities and two changes to your statement as well as to mention a specific time period. 

  1. Write down ideas and identify concepts 

Before you start writing an essay at APUSH (AP United States History) exam, jot down some basic facts about the topic, relying on your own knowledge only, since you won’t be provided with any information sources. First, determine what you can write about and then build your essay around it. 

Even though you have to focus on a particular location and timeframe, you should also consider the situation in the rest of the world in that period. There is no need to go deep into detail about other locations, but it would be great to describe how some world events influenced your topic. 

  1. Create an outline and find evidence 

You can organize your essay in many different ways since there is no right or wrong. However, it is more preferable to organize your paper so that it emphasizes changes first. If you discuss the changes before the continuities, you will be able to come across your arguments more clearly. In fact, this is the most common approach for outline creation. 

It's essential to include a few specific examples in each paragraph. Make your examples rich in detail and relevant to the time and place mentioned in the essay prompt. Also, think about the significance of your topic in the global context. 

  1. Explain the cause of change 

To get a high score in the AP World History exam, you should not just clearly state what changed about the topic but also analyze a historical situation. In other words, it's important to go beyond the basics and explain both the process and causes of changes. You can also describe if the change happened unevenly in different places or over time and mention intermediate points in a certain period. 

Approaches to Address the Topic


Using this approach, you should first add a topic sentence, then provide a baseline, next explain the cause of change or context, give evidence, summarize the change, describe its status and significance at the endpoint. 


According to this approach, you need to base body paragraphs around sub-periods. So after adding a topic sentence, you need to describe the characteristics of a historical situation, tell about the events and processes that changed or stayed the same, and then explain the cause of changes and their significance during a certain period.

Use writing formulas 

To write body paragraphs, you can follow the next formulas. 

  • Continuity

Statement (sentence #1)

During the time period (… to …), (events in the world context) caused (topic/theme) to stay constant because (reasons). 

As you see, you must think about what was going on in the world causing the continuity and cover the historical development of an event. Note that the global context must be relevant to the topic. 

Analysis of continuity (sentences #2, #3, #4)

One continuity that took place in (topic/theme) was (…). The reason for it is (analysis). An example of this would be (specific evidence). 

  • Changes 

Statement  (sentence #1) 

During the time period (…), (event in the world context) caused things to change in (topic/theme) because (reasons).  

Analysis of continuity (sentences #2, #3, #4)

One change that occurred in (topic/theme) was (…). The reason for it is (analysis). An example of this would be (specific evidence). 

  • Conclusion

In your conclusion, you should make some more global connections and explain why it's important to discuss the essay topic today. You can also predict how it will move forward in history and whether it will undergo further changes or stay the same.

Learn More About Scoring

Typically, you can earn 1 point for having a good thesis, up to 2 points for addressing the question, up to 2 points for using accurate evidence, 1 point for illustrating the changes in terms of global contexts and 1 point for analyzing the process of continuity and change over a period of time. 

You can also get up to 2 additional points for excellence if you go above and beyond in analyzing your topic. 

Wrapping Up 

Hopefully, this article gave you a better understanding of how to write a CCOT essay for AP World History. Summing up, you should first define areas of change and continuity in your thesis, and then establish time period boundaries that you will address. Next, analyze the cause of changes and address continuity. It's also important to discuss the global context of the historical situation and connect it to world processes and change.

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