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The AP United States History Exam

Important Updates

Take a Guided Tour of AP U.S. History

Check out this series of video overview modules for the AP U.S. History course and exam.

Become a Mentee: 2016-17 AP Mentoring

AP U.S. History teachers can participate in a new program that will connect them with mentor teachers with a deep knowledge of AP and a record of student success. The application deadline has been extended to July 31.

Exam Overview

AP U.S. History Exam: 3 Hours 15 Minutes

The AP Exam questions measure students knowledge of U.S. history and their ability to think historically. Questions are based on key and supporting concepts, course themes, and historical thinking skills.

The AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.33MB) provides details about the exam. Information about the rubrics, which were updated for the May 2016 exam, is included in a separate AP history rubrics document (.pdf/555KB). To learn more about the rubrics and historical thinking skills changes, watch this narrated presentation.

For a video overview of the exam, watch part 3 of the Course Overview Modules for AP U.S. History Teachers.

Format of Assessment

Section I - Part A: Multiple Choice | 55 Questions | 55 Minutes | 40% of Exam Score

  • Questions appear in sets of 2 to 5.
  • Students analyze historical texts, interpretations, and evidence.
  • Primary and secondary sources, images, graphs, and maps are included.

Section I - Part B: Short Answer | 4 Questions | 50 Minutes | 20% of Exam Score

  • Questions provide opportunities for students to write about what they know best.
  • Some questions include texts, images, graphs, or maps.

Section II - Part A: Document Based | 1 Question | 55 Minutes (includes 15 minute reading period) | 25% of Exam Score

  • Analyze and synthesize historical data.
  • Assess written, quantitative, or visual materials as historical evidence.

Section II - Part B: Long Essay | 1 Question | 35 Minutes | 15% of Exam Score

  • Students select one question among two.
  • Explain and analyze significant issues in U.S. history.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.

Sample Exam Questions

For sample exam questions of all types, refer to the AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/2.33MB).

Free-Response Questions

If you require an accessible version of any documents on this page, please e-mail Accessibility@collegeboard.org. We will respond to your e-mail within 3 business days.

Free-Response Questions 2016 2015

2016: Free-Response Questions

Questions Student Performance Samples, Scoring Guidelines, and Commentary Score Distributions
Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

2015: Free-Response Questions

The sample response PDFs in this section were updated to reflect changes to the rubrics that took effect with the 2016 AP U.S. History Exam.

Questions Student Performance Samples, Scoring Guidelines, and Commentary Score Distributions
Free-Response Questions

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics
Introduction and Preface

Short Answer Question 1

Short Answer Question 2

Short Answer Question 3

Document-Based Question 1

Long Essay Question 2

Long Essay Question 3
Score Distributions

Past Free-Response Questions

You can still access free-response questions from earlier AP U.S. History Exams. These questions do not reflect the content, scope, or design specifications of the redesigned AP U.S. History Exam, which was administered for the first time in May 2015. Included with the questions are scoring guidelines, sample student responses, and commentary on those responses, as well as exam statistics and the Student Performance Q&A (Chief Reader's Report) for the May 2014 administrations and before.

More About U.S. History

See Also...

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