Two materials for the price of one, brought to you by HistoryChic's Treasure Trove! Both of these documents are to help students think about illustrative examples for AP World History Unit 3 (600 CE to 1450 CE). This, in turn, can help them to do better on the essays.
Do this either BEFORE teaching unit 3 or right at the beginning of the unit, as it can be a useful tool for you as well, to gauge how much your students already know. Partner up your class. Give each set of partners a copy of the Unit 3 review. Give them 15 minutes in which to fill out as much as they can together. If you have time, go through the document with them afterwards and suggest possible answers that would have worked (but don't let them make changes). Collect and save these for use again after you have taught and tested Unit 3.
Do this AFTER students have been tested on Unit 3. Give each individual student a copy of the review and 10 minutes in which to fill it out to the best of their ability. Afterwards, put them back with their original partners and hand out the preview that each filled out. Have them compare to see their progress. For the second part, you can either have students complete it in class (each student will need a yellow, green, and blue highlighter), or you can have them do it at home. The second part is great for student reflection and also helps them take ownership for their own learning. I found that my own students started testing much better once I started having them do reflective activities like this.