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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.

New Exam for Classroom Use

A secure 2016 AP United States History Exam is now available on the AP Course Audit website. To access, sign in to your AP Course Audit account, and click on the Secure Documents link in the Resources section of your Course Status page.

Exam Day 2017

Fri, May 5, 8 a.m.

Exam Duration

3 hours, 15 minutes

Exam Overview

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.

Information about the rubrics is included in a separate Rubrics for AP Histories + Historical Thinking Skills (.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.

Encourage your students to visit the AP United States History student page for exam information and exam practice.

Access online score reports for your students.


Learn about late testing policies, and see all late testing dates.

Exam Format

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 demonstrate 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.

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

Looking for sample multiple-choice and free-response questions? You can find them in:

The Course and Exam Description (.pdf/1.58MB), which has everything you need to know about the course and exam.

A full practice exam on AP Course Audit. Log in to your account and then click on the Secure Documents link within the Resources section of your Course Status page.

A full released exam (.pdf/8.4MB) demonstrates what to expect on the exam.

The Past Exam Questions page. Note that 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. The questions and the scoring information reflect the exams given in May 2014 and before.

The Student Performance Q&A. In this invaluable resource, the Chief Reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the reading leadership to describe how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year.

And for free-response questions from prior exams, along with scoring information, check out the tables below.


2016: Free-Response Questions
Questions Student Performance Samples, Scoring Guidelines, and Commentary Score Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1 DBQ

Sample Responses Q1 SA

Sample Responses Q2 LEQ

Sample Responses Q2 SA

Sample Responses Q3 LEQ

Sample Responses Q3 SA

Sample Responses Q4 SA

Score Distributions

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.

2015: Free-Response Questions
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

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