The Course

AP Art History

Sign In to AP Classroom

Course Overview

AP Art History is an introductory college-level art history course. Students cultivate their understanding of art history through analyzing works of art and placing them in historical context as they explore concepts like culture and cultural interactions, theories and interpretations of art, the impact of materials, processes, and techniques on art and art making, and understanding purpose and audience in art historical analysis.

Course and Exam Description

Course Resources

Course Content

Based on the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, this course framework provides a clear and detailed description of the course requirements necessary for student success. The framework specifies what students must know, be able to do, and understand, with a focus on the big ideas that encompass core principles, theories, and processes of the discipline. The framework also encourages instruction that prepares students to understand representative works of art from diverse cultures, including placing these works in context and illuminating relationships among them.

The AP Art History framework is organized into 10 commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. As always, you have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.


 Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

 Unit 1: Global Prehistory, 30,000–500 BCE


 Unit 2: Ancient Mediterranean, 3500 BCE–300 CE


 Unit 3: Early Europe and Colonial Americas, 200–1750 CE


 Unit 4: Later Europe and Americas, 1750–1980 CE


 Unit 5: Indigenous Americas, 1000 BCE–1980 CE


 Unit 6: Africa, 1100–1980 CE


 Unit 7: West and Central Asia, 500 BCE–1980 CE


 Unit 8: South, East, and Southeast Asia, 300 BCE–1980 CE


 Unit 9: The Pacific, 700-1980 C.E.


 Unit 10: Global Contemporary, 1980 C.E. to Present


Art Historical Thinking Skills

The AP Art History framework included in the course and exam description outlines distinct skills, called art historical thinking skills, that students should practice throughout the year—skills that will help them learn to think and act like art historians.



Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)

 1. Visual Analysis

 Analyze visual elements of works of art.


 2. Contextual Analysis

 Analyze contextual elements of a work of art, and connect contextual and visual elements of a work of art.


 3. Comparison of Works of Art

 Compare two or more works of art.


 4. Artistic Traditions

 Analyze the relationships between a work of art and a related artistic tradition, style, and/or practice.


 5. Visual Analysis of Unknown Works

 Analyze visual elements of a work of art beyond the image set.


 6. Attribution of Unknown Works

 Attribute works of art.


 7. Art Historical Interpretations

 Analyze art historical interpretations.


 8. Argumentation

 Develop and support art historical arguments.

 Not assessed in the multiple-choice section

AP and Higher Education

Higher education professionals play a key role in developing AP courses and exams, setting credit and placement policies, and scoring student work. The AP Higher Education section features information on recruitment and admission, advising and placement, and more.

This chart shows recommended scores for granting credit, and how much credit should be awarded, for each AP course. Your students can look up credit and placement policies for colleges and universities on the AP Credit Policy Search.

Meet the Art History Development Committee

The AP Program is unique in its reliance on Development Committees. These committees, made up of an equal number of college faculty and experienced secondary AP teachers from across the country, are essential to the preparation of AP course curricula and exams.