AP Art History Frequently Asked Questions

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Questions about the course

The AP Art History course focuses on 250 works of art—exemplars of global artistic traditions in 10 content areas—and clearly defines learning objectives for the course. Teachers and students are encouraged to study additional works, but the 250 works found in the AP Art History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/26.4MB) are the only ones that will appear on the AP Exam. Course overview modules provide a guided tour of the curriculum framework, exam, instructional approaches, and more.

For more details go to the two-page Course Overview (.pdf/1.09MB).

AP Art History is the equivalent of a two-semester introductory college or university art history survey course.

AP Art History teachers are not expected to become “experts” on each work in the image set. The same skills that teachers apply to works that they are more comfortable with should be applied to those works and content areas that might be new to them. Students should use their art historical research skills to identify, critique, synthesize, and apply relevant information about all works of art.

Recent editions of college art history textbooks include many of the works in the image set, and can help you understand the learning objectives. A list of example textbooks appropriate for the course appears on the AP Course Audit page for this course. You and your students will need to consult multiple scholarly resources to learn about the image set.

The College Board does not recommend specific textbooks. However, a list of example textbooks appropriate for the course appears on the AP Course Audit page for this course.

These resources will help:

  • The AP Art History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/26.4MB) is the core document for the course. If you only download one thing this year, make it this.
  • AP Art History Course Planning and Pacing Guides demonstrate several approaches to teaching the course. The guides were written by teachers from different areas of the country, working in a variety of teaching environments.
  • Professional development such as one-day workshops, specialty conferences, and weeklong AP Summer Institutes are great for novices and experts alike.
  • Khan Academy provides complete coverage of course content with links to additional resources.
  • The AP Art History Teacher Community gives you the opportunity to learn from colleagues and create a library of resources.
  • The Teacher’s Guide (1.72MB) was developed to support the course prior to the redesigned curriculum now in effect, but still provides relevant information about teaching AP Art History.

Any motivated student should be given the chance to benefit from an AP course. Students who have been successful in humanities courses such as history and literature, or in studio art courses, are especially encouraged to enroll. If your school gives the PSAT/NMSQT®, use AP Potential. This free online tool allows you to identify students who are likely to succeed in AP based on their PSAT/NMSQT or SAT® scores. Such scores have proved to be stronger predictors of AP success than have high school grades or GPA.

Yes, provided that the class meets all year long so that students can cover the course content.

The AP Teacher Community might be the best source for answers. You’ll also find articles, tools, and resources to help you teach every aspect of the course on the course home page.

Questions about the AP Course Audit

The AP Course Audit is a course authorization process that provides teachers and administrators with guidelines and requirements for offering AP courses. It also ensures that AP courses across high schools meet the same college-level criteria.

Yes. Every school wishing to offer an AP course must participate in the AP Course Audit.

The AP Course Audit requires the online submission of two documents: the AP Course Audit form and the teacher’s syllabus. The AP teacher and the school principal (or designated administrator) submits the Course Audit form, acknowledging the curricular and resource requirements. The syllabus, detailing how the AP course requirements will be met, is submitted by the AP teacher for review by college faculty.

The AP Course Audit website will give you the tools you’ll need to create and submit your syllabus for authorization, including information and guidelines, sample syllabi, and a tutorial.

Questions about the exam

When identifying a work of art, students should try to include all of the following: title or designation, name of the artist and/or culture of origin, date of creation, and materials. They will earn credit for the identification if they provide at least two accurate identifiers beyond any included in the question. They will not be penalized if any additional identifiers they provide are inaccurate.

  • A full practice exam is available by logging in to your AP Course Audit account. The practice exam features the same number and type of questions in the redesigned exam.
  • Review the sample responses from the practice exam, which uses actual student responses to show how students can earn points on free-response questions.
  • Free-response questions (FRQs) with student samples and scoring guidelines can be accessed from the course’s exam information page.
  • Scroll down the “Scoring” column in the free-response questions table to find yearly Chief Reader Reports (former title: Student Performance Q&A) from the Chief Reader that describe how students performed on the FRQs, typical student errors, and specific concepts that challenged students the most that year.
  • Additional sample questions can be found in the AP Art History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/26.4 MB), as well as Sample Questions: AP Art History Exam (.pdf/1.89MB).
  • Watch the 2017 Chief Reader Report Module, where Heather Madar of Humboldt State University provides a brief walkthrough of the highlights of her 2017 Chief Reader Report.

The exam is given each year in early May. See the Exam Calendar for the most current exam dates.

That depends on the college. Some require higher scores than others. Tell your students to use the AP Credit Policy Info tool to verify the credit/placement policies at the colleges they are considering.

Go to the AP Art History Exam Information page for answers. You’ll find specifics about the exam format and more.