AP UNITED STATES HISTORY The Exam

Important Updates

Secure Practice Exam Reflecting 2017-18 Updates

A secure AP U.S. History practice exam – reflecting the 2017-18 AP history updates – is now available on the AP Course Audit site.

2017-18 AP History Updates

Updates to the three AP history courses and exams will take effect in the 2017-18 school year and are reflected in the course and exam description, 2018 rubrics, and annotated sample essays available below. These changes do not require teachers to resubmit their syllabi to the AP Course Audit or attend professional development.

  • Fri, May 11, 2018

AP United States History Exam Day 2018

  • 8 a.m. | 3 hrs 15 mins

Exam Overview

The AP U.S. History Exam measures 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.

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

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 be 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

Updated Rubrics for 2018

2018 AP History Rubrics

AP history long essay and document-based question rubrics, effective fall 2017.

  • PDF
  • 340.46 KB
  • AP U.S. History Student Samples Aligned to the 2018 Rubrics – Document-Based Question

    Sample student responses to an AP U.S. History document-based question, scored using the updated 2018 AP history rubric. Includes scoring guidelines and commentary.

    • PDF
    • 3.86 MB
    • AP U.S. History Student Samples Aligned to the 2018 Rubrics – Long Essay Question

      Sample student responses to an AP U.S. History long essay question, scored using the updated 2018 AP history rubric. Includes scoring guidelines and commentary.

      • PDF
      • 3.13 MB
      • Exam Questions and Scoring Information

        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.

        Past exam questions from the May 2014 administrations and before are also available. Note that these questions do not reflect the content, scope, or design specifications of the initial redesigned AP U.S. History Exam.

        Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. 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.

        2017: Free-Response Questions

        Note: The scoring guidelines in this table were used to score the 2017 AP United States History Exam. Updated rubrics for the 2017-18 school year are available above, under Updated Rubrics for 2018.

        2016: Free-Response Questions

        The 2016 sample response PDFs (.pdf/32.8MB) were updated to reflect changes to the rubrics that took effect with the 2016 AP U.S. History Exam.

        2015: Free-Response Questions

        Exam Resources

        AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description — Fall 2017

        This is the core document for teachers of this course. It lays out the course content, describes the exam, and includes a full practice exam. For details on what’s new in the 2017 edition, please see the preface.

        • PDF
        • 2.08 MB
      • AP Course Audit Website

        Teaching and Assessing Modules

        Practice Exam from 2017 Course and Exam Description

        This practice exam from the 2017 course and exam description reflects the updates taking effect with the May 2018 exam.

      • AP United States History: The Exam, AP Central – The College Board
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