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Important Updates

Preparing Students for the Exam 

Starting August 1, students and teachers will have new resources and a daily support tool called AP Classroom to use throughout the year. Designed and tested in collaboration with AP teachers, these resources include unit guides that cover the content and skills assessed on the exam, progress checks and a dashboard to highlight strengths and opportunities for growth, and a question bank of real AP questions.

Learn more about the new resources


Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information on exam weighting, download the AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description.

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


  • Event
    • Fri, May 8, 2020

    AP U.S. History Exam Day

    • 8 a.m. | 3 hrs 15 mins

Exam Format

The AP U.S. History Exam will continue to have consistent question types, weighting, and scoring guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day. The overall format of the exam—including the weighting, timing, and number of questions in each exam section—won’t change.

Section 1A: Multiple Choice

55 Questions | 55 Minutes | 40% of Exam Score

  • Questions usually appear in sets of 3–4 questions.
  • Students analyze historical texts, interpretations, and evidence.
  • Primary and secondary sources, images, graphs, and maps are included.

Section 1B: Short Answer

3 Questions | 40 Minutes | 20% of Exam Score

  • Students 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.
  • Students choose between 2 options for the final required short-answer question, each one focusing on a different time period:
    • Question 1 is required, includes 1–2 secondary sources, and focuses on historical developments or processes between the years 1754 and 1980.
    • Question 2 is required, includes 1 primary source, and focuses on historical developments or processes between the years 1754 and 1980.
    • Students choose between Question 3 (which focuses on historical developments or processes between the years 1491 and 1877) and Question 4 (which focuses on historical developments or processes between the years 1865 and 2001) for the last question. No sources are included for either Question 3 or Question 4.

Section 2A: Document-Based Question

1 Question | 1 Hour (includes 15-minute reading period) | 25% of Exam Score

  • Students are presented with 7 documents offering various perspectives on a historical development or process.
  • Students assess these written, quantitative, or visual materials as historical evidence.
  • Students develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • The document-based question focuses on topics from 1754–1980.

Section 2B: Long Essay

1 Question | 40 Minutes | 15% of Exam Score

  • Students explain and analyze significant issues in U.S. history.
  • Students develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • The question choices focus on the same skills and the same reasoning process (e.g., comparison, causation, or continuity and change), but students choose from 3 options, each focusing on historical developments and processes from a different range of time periods—either 1491–1800 (option 1), 1800–1898 (option 2), or 1890–2001 (option 3).

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

For free-response questions (FRQs) from the 2019 exam, along with scoring information, check out the table below.

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 AP Reading leadership to explain 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.

New Exam Resources

Beginning in August 2019, you’ll have access to the full range of questions from past exams in AP Classroom. You’ll have access to:

  • an online library of AP questions relevant to your course
  • personal progress checks with new formative questions
  • a dashboard to display results from progress checks and provide real-time insights

2019: Free-Response Questions

Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Coming Soon

Coming Soon: Scoring Guidelines for CED Sample Free-Response Questions

Scoring guidelines for the sample exam questions within the AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description will be posted later this summer.