AP UNITED STATES HISTORYThe Exam

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Important Updates

Updated AP History Rubrics
The updated rubrics for the AP history free-response questions are now available (.pdf/340.46KB). Annotated sample essays scored with these rubrics will be available in late August.

2017-18 AP History Updates
Updates to the three AP history courses and exams will take effect in the 2017-18 school year. These changes do not require teachers to resubmit their syllabi to the AP Course Audit or attend professional development.

  • Event
    • 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

See the updated AP history rubrics. Sample student essays with scoring commentary tied to the updated rubrics will be available in late August.

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 Student Performance Q&A. 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
Questions Scoring Samples and Commentary Score Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines    

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
Questions Student Performance Samples, Scoring Guidelines, and Commentary Score Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1 DBQ

Sample Responses Q1 SA

Sample Responses Q2 LEQ

Sample Responses Q2 SA

Sample Responses Q3 LEQ

Sample Responses Q3 SA

Sample Responses Q4 SA

Score Distributions

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.

Exam Resources