Jump to page content Jump to navigation

College Board

AP Central

Print Page
Home > AP Courses and Exams > AP Exam Information > The AP United States History Exam

The AP United States History Exam

Important Updates

2017-18 AP History Updates

Updates to the AP history courses and exams will take effect in the 2017-18 school year. These changes do not require teachers to resubmit their syllabi to the AP Course Audit or attend professional development.

Exam Overview

The AP U.S. History 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 the disciplinary practices and reasoning skills outlined in the course and exam description.

The 2018 AP history rubrics will be available in early August 2017.

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.

Policies

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 — 3 Questions | 40 Minutes | 20% of Exam Score

  • Analyze historians' interpretations, historical sources, and propositions about history.
  • Questions provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know best.
  • Some questions include texts, images, graphs, or maps.
  • Update for 2017-18: The number of required short answer questions has been reduced to three, and the time allotted has been decreased to 40 minutes. Students will choose between two options for the final required short answer question, each one focusing on a different time period.
    • Question 1 (required): periods 3-8
    • Question 2 (required): periods 3-8
    • Students choose between Question 3, periods 1-5, and Question 4, periods 6-9

Section II: Part A

Document Based — 1 Question | 60 Minutes (includes 15-minute reading period) | 25% of Exam Score

  • Assess written, quantitative, or visual materials as historical evidence.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • Update for 2017-18: Five minutes have been added to the time allotted for the document-based question, which will now focus on topics from periods 3 to 8.

Section II: Part B

Long Essay — 1 Question | 40 Minutes | 15% of Exam Score

  • Explain and analyze significant issues in U.S. history.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • Updates for 2017-18: Five minutes have been added to the time allotted for the long essay. The question choices will continue to focus on the same theme and skill but will now allow students to select among three options, each focusing on a different range of time periods:
    • Option 1: periods 1-3
    • Option 2: periods 4-6
    • Option 3: periods 7-9


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/2.79MB), which has everything you need to know about the course and exam, including a practice exam reflecting the 2017-18 updates.


Teaching and Assessing AP U.S. History features sample free-response questions and interactive scoring practice using real student responses. Note that some content and scoring activities are currently unavailable, as the system is being updated to reflect the 2017-18 AP history changes.


Secure exams for classroom use with sample student responses and scoring commentary on the AP Course Audit website. Log in to your account and then click on the Secure Documents link within the Resources section of your Course Status page. Note that these exams do not yet reflect the 2018 exam format. Updated secure exams will be available soon.


The Past Exam Questions page. Note that these questions do not reflect the content, scope, or design specifications of the initial 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 students have struggled the most with that year.

And for free-response questions from prior exams, along with scoring information, check out the tables below. Please note that these questions do not reflect the format of the 2018 exam, as they date from the 2015 to 2017 exam administrations. Similar resources for the 2018 exam will be available after the exam administration in May 2018.

 



2017: Free-Response Questions
Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions

Free-Response Questions

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 2016 sample response PDFs 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

Scoring Guidelines

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

Back to top