Study Bites: Succeed in AP History Writing


Study Bites: Help AP History Students Improve Writing Skills


Yilan | Anglea | Jihye | Leslie | Me


Study Bites is a website (http://study-bites.com/) developed to help high school teachers and students tackle the abstract, overwhelming, and disorganized nature of World History using intuitive UI and web navigation.

Our client would like us to further enhance the website by designing a feature that helps students with their writing process by developing their critical thinking skills to write stronger arguments on their AP exam.

Our client has a preliminary concept of this feature. For this project, our client would like us to redefine or recreate the concept based on user insights and also acquire about how valuable the feature would be for students.

Finally, Design Bites hopes to receive a style guide and high-fidelity designs that their team can implement. 


14 Weeks


UX Researcher(Main)



User Research

Interaction Design

Web Design

The Challenge

How might we help students improve their critical thinking skills for AP World History exam?

Project Goal

Design a feature that supports students in their writing process and specifically helps them extract evidence, make an opinion, and create an argument.

Current Website

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Make the essay writing process easier for students



Provide learning & practice essay to guide students


Make study material more digestible


Promote collaboration and engagement

Our Design


Problem discovery 

Research (interviews and survey)

Competitive Analysis

Understand AP History Exam

Research Synthesis



User flow

Design Goals

Sketching: Crazy Eight

Low-fidelity Wireframing

Remote usability testing with target users

Analyze test results

Increase fidelity of the wireframe 

Refine the design

Style guide

Final prototype 

Client's Product Definition

In order to make history a bit more fun and help students feel more confident in their ability to learn (Vision). Study Bites will solve AP World History high school students' problem of tackling the abstract, overwhelming, and seeming disorganized nature of World History(User Problem) by using intuitive UI and web navigation (Product Strategy)

Study Bites is constrained by specifically focusing on AP World History students, and as result, trying to understand what a student will be motivated to purchase (Constraints). We know if Study Bites works when we see students automatically seeking out and turning to Study Bites when studying and eager to purchase a site plan to help them with their course (Goal)


Prior to our research, our client has surveyed over 100 students and teachers by asking these questions: their interest in World History, difficulty studying for the AP exam, and the current resources they use to study for the exam. The problem that the students most struggled with and confused about is studying for the essay portion of the exam. Teachers were also concerned about students' writing and critical thinking skills. Our team created a diagram summarizing our findings from our clients.

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Research Methods

To help Study Bites better understand their users, we utilized the continuous discovery method to conduct user research starting with interviews & surveys.

Target Users

Primary User Group

High School Students

currently preparing for the AP World History exam

Secondary User Group

High School Teachers or Tutor

who are teaching AP World History or play a large role in helping students prepare for the exam

Survey & Interview


17 Surveys

3 Interviews


like to improve

their writing skill


Writing section is overwhelming


The writing section is confused

  • The student felt overwhelmed and confused about the writing portion due to lack of time, difficulty organizing thoughts, and Difficulty creating an argument 



1 Survey

1 Interview

Student Challenges

Lack of time


Teaching Materials

AP Classroom, self created material

  • The teacher found students need the most help in outside evidence, analysis of documents, and the complexity point

Listen to Users

After we conducted many surveys and several interviews, we've received many valuable feedbacks from participants that are currently taking AP World History and preparing for the exam. 

“I mainly try to understand how the essay flows. Contextualization. Try to understand how much or how little you should write. How to make your writing efficient to meet the points on the rubric. 

“The resources are all standardized with no deep insight or instructions on how to answer my specific questions. I know there are sample questions the College Board releases, but it's not what i'm looking for and it  doesn’t explain it well.”

"Textbooks are overwhelming and dense (e.g. Text Heavy)"

“Free resources are very dated. Some parts are relevant but no one has recent materials.

"There is no peer review because students slack off. I think peer review is helpful so long as it is good feedback."

“I've searched for resources to prepare for LEQ. All of them say the same thing, they are redundant and often have no examples. ”

Key Insights & Oppotunities


Writing Practice

Practice makes perfect. Our teacher interviewee offered 10 practice essays for her class. Student interviewees also believed more practice often helps them better prepare for the exam. 


Better Guideline

Break down the rubric to know why students did not receive specific points, and less overwhelmed with information. Provide a comprehensive study guide and advice about the most common mistakes or particular topics. Keep all material up to date. 


Peer Review

Our interviewees expressed that they enjoyed having others review their essays so they can learn from each other, especially since studying is remote now. Teachers are not always available, therefore, getting feedback from peer review can be very helpful. 


This persona was created with observations, interviews, and questions from multiple student participants. We created this persona showing a student's pain points and goals when studying for exams. This persona also summarized our many findings from our researches. 

“I am a sophomore of San Francisco High School, a private Catholic school. Due to the Covid-19, I am studying remotely at my home in Ohio. The major reason for taking AP classes is preparation for college and gaining college credits. I am going to take 3 AP Exams this May. My goal is 4 for the essays, but I want to have 5.”

AP Exam Planning

AP Calculus 
AP U.S. History
AP World History