AP World History Exam

The AP® World History exam tests topics and skills discussed in your Advanced Placement World History course. If you score high enough, your AP score could earn you college credit!

Check out our AP World History Guide for what you need to know about the exam:

AP World History Exam Overview

The AP World History exam takes 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete and is composed of two sections: a multiple choice and short answer section and an essay section.

Timing

Number of Questions

% of Exam Score

Section 1, Part A

55 minutes

55 multiple choice questions

40%

Section 1, Part B

40 minutes

3 short answer questions

20%

Section 2, Part A

60  minutes

1 document-based question

25%

Section 2, Part B

40 minutes

1 long essay


15%

AP World History Question Types

Multiple Choice

AP World History multiple choice questions are grouped into sets. They are based on primary or secondary sources, including excerpts from historical documents or writings, images, graphs, and maps. This section will test your ability to analyze and engage with the source materials while recalling what you already know about world history.

Short Answer

The AP World History short answer questions require you to respond to a primary or secondary source, a historian’s argument, or a general proposition about world history. Students will choose between two options for the final required short-answer question, each one focusing on a different time period.

Document-Based Question (DBQ)

The AP World History DBQ presents a prompt and a variety of historical documents that are intended to show the complexity of a particular historical issue. You will need to develop a thesis that responds to the prompt, and support that thesis with evidence from both the documents and your knowledge of world history. To earn the best score, you should incorporate outside knowledge and be able to relate the issues discussed in the documents to a larger theme, issue, or time period.

Long Essay

The AP Long Essay is similar to the DBQ in that you must develop a thesis and use historical evidence to support your thesis, but there will not be any documents on which you must base your response. Instead you will need to draw upon your own knowledge of topics you learned in your AP World History class. You’ll be given a choice of three essay options, each focusing on a different range of time periods.

AP World History Review

The College Board is very detailed in what they require your AP teacher to cover in his or her AP World History course. They explain that you should be familiar with world history events from the following six major periods from about 10,000 years ago to the present.

  • Period 1: Technological and Environmental Transformations - to C. 600 B.C.E.
  • Period 2: Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies - C. 600 B.C.E. to C. 600 C.E.
  • Period 3: Regional and Transregional Interactions - C. 600 C.E. to C. 1450
  • Period 4: Global Interactions - C. 1450 to C. 1750
  • Period 5: Industrialization and Global Integration - C. 1750 to C. 1900
  • Period 6: Accelerating Global Change and Realignments - C. 1900 to the present

How to Interpret AP World History Scores

AP scores are reported from 1 to 5. Here’s how students scored on  AP World History exam in May 2017:

AP World History Score

Meaning

Percentage of Test Takers

5

Extremely qualified

8.5%

4

Well qualified

19.9%

3

Qualified

26.7%

2

Possibly qualified

29.6%

1

No recommendation

15.4%

Source: College Board

How can I prepare?

AP classes are great, but for many students they’re not enough! For a thorough review of AP World History content and strategy, pick the AP prep option that works best for your goals and learning style.

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