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Important Updates

2019-20 AP Course Audit: What You’ll Need to Do

To give you more time to familiarize yourself with the new resources and supports that launched in August, you won’t be required to submit a syllabus for course authorization until the 2020-21 school year.

If you’re teaching a new AP U.S. History course in 2019-20, you’ll need to:

  • Submit a subject-specific AP Course Audit Form
  • Download the AP U.S. History unit guide

If you’re teaching a previously authorized AP U.S. History course, make sure your school administrator renews your course in 2019-20.

These steps will ensure that your course appears on the AP Course Ledger and you have access to online score reports in July 2020.

AP Course Audit

All schools that want to label a course “AP” must get authorization through the AP Course Audit.

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Designing Your AP U.S. History Course


The AP U.S. History course should be designed by your school to provide students with a learning experience equivalent to that of an introductory college course sequence in United States history. Your course should provide students with the analytic skills and factual knowledge necessary to deal critically with the topics and materials in U.S. history.

There are no specific curricular prerequisites for students taking AP U.S. History.

Getting to Know the Course and Exam

The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Start by reviewing it to understand the objectives and expectations of the AP course and exam.

AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description

This is the core document for this course and is updated for the 2019-20 school year. New unit guides clearly lay out the course content and skills and recommend sequencing and pacing for them throughout the year. The CED also more clearly outlines how material will be assessed on the exam, provides instructional strategies, and gives information on the AP Program in general.

Course Requirements

Use these resources to design your AP U.S. History syllabus.


Your course must fulfill these requirements.

  • The students and teacher have access to a college-level U.S. history textbook, diverse primary sources, and multiple secondary sources written by historians or scholars interpreting the past.
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the required content outlined in each of the units described in the course and exam description.
  • The course provides opportunities to deepen student understanding of the course themes.
  • The course provides opportunities for students to develop the historical thinking skills:
    • Skill 1: Developments and Processes
    • Skill 2: Sourcing and Situation
    • Skill 3: Claims and Evidence in Sources
    • Skill 4: Contextualization
    • Skill 5: Making Connections (through the application of the 3 historical reasoning processes—comparison, causation, continuity and change)
    • Skill 6: Argumentation (using historical reasoning processes)

AP U.S. History resource requirements:

  • The school ensures that each student has a college-level U.S. history textbook (in print or electronic format) published within the last 10 years for individual use inside and outside of the classroom. The textbook is supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements.
  • The school ensures that the teacher has a copy of the most recent edition of a U.S. history textbook and other appropriate materials to support instruction.
  • The school ensures that each student has copies of primary sources and other instructional materials used in the course for individual use inside and outside of the classroom.
  • The school ensures that each student has access to support materials for the U.S. history course, including scholarly, college-level works that correspond with course topics; writings by major history authors; as well as standard reference works such as encyclopedias, atlases, collections of historical documents, and statistical compendiums, either in a school or public library or via the internet.

The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the curricular requirements of AP U.S History and have met or exceed the required alignment to the learning objectives and skills in the course curriculum framework. The list is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by the College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary, supporting resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.

These materials have been reviewed by Learning List. Inclusion on this example textbook list indicates some alignment to the course framework, however, it does not indicate that the material is aligned to 100% of the course framework. Learning List’s detailed alignment reports identify the specific learning objectives and skills to which each material is and is not aligned to help teachers use these materials more effectively. See the Learning List reviews of these materials or contact Learning List for more information.


  • Berkin, Carol, Christopher L. Miller, Robert W. Cherny, and James L. Gormly. Making America: A History of the United States. 7th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.
  • Brinkley, Alan. American History: Connecting with the Past, Updated AP Edition. 15th edition. McGraw-Hill Education
  • Henretta, James A., Eric Hinderaker, Rebecca Edwards, and Robert O. Self. America’s History, For the AP® Course. 8th edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s.
  • Kennedy, David M., and Lizabeth Cohen. The American Pageant. 16th edition. National Geographic Learning/Cengage Learning.
  • Newman, John J., and John M. Schmalbach. United States History: Preparing for the Advanced Placement Examination. 1st edition. Perfection Learning.
  • Oakes, James, Michael McGerr, Jan Ellen Lewis, Nick Cullather, Jeanne Boydston, Mark Summers, Camilla Townsend, and Karen Dunak. Of the People: A History of the United States. 3rd edition. Perfection Learning, Oxford University Press.
  • Foner, Eric. Give Me Liberty. 5th edition.  W.W. Norton and Company.
  • Shi, David E., and George Brown Tindall.  America: A Narrative History. 10th edition.  W.W. Norton and Company.

Supplemental Reader

Stacy, Jason and Stephen Heller. Documenting United States History: Themes, Concepts, and Skills for the AP Course. 1st edition. Bedford, Freeman and Worth Publishing Group.