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Important Updates

2021 Exam Information

Updated April 8 Students can now download the digital testing application and take digital practice to prepare them for the testing experience. See below for more information on digital practice and taking the digital exam.

AP U.S. History Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as digital exams in late May and early June.

The paper and digital versions of the AP U.S. History Exam will be full length and cover the full scope of course content, giving students the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement.  

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP U.S. History only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.

AP Daily and AP Classroom
Short, searchable AP Daily videos can be assigned alongside topic questions to help you cover all course content, skills, and task models, and check student understanding. Unlock personal progress checks so students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills unit by unit and use the progress dashboard to highlight progress and additional areas for support. As the exam approaches, assign AP practice exams in the AP Classroom question bank and encourage students to take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information, download the AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description (CED).

Scoring rubrics – general scoring criteria for the document-based and long essay questions, regardless of specific question prompt – are available in the course and exam description (CED).

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

Digital Practice and Testing Information

Updated April 8

Digital Practice Now Available

Starting April 8, students can try out the test-day experience by answering example questions in the digital testing application. See the Digital Practice page for general information about practice options.

AP United States History students will have two options to answer example questions in the digital testing application. Both provide approximately the same time limit per question as the full exam.

  • Digital Practice has a shortened multiple-choice section (12 questions, 12 minutes), a 1-minute pause, and full-length free-response sections. This consists of: 3 short-answer questions (SAQs) in 40 minutes, a shortened break of 5 minutes, and 1 document-based question (DBQ) and 2 SAQs in 1 hour and 40 minutes.
  • The App Demo is an even shorter subset of the questions in Digital Practice–3 multiple-choice questions, a 2-minute break, and 2 freeresponse questions (1 DBQ, 1 SAQ)

We highly recommend all students take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if they can’t take the Digital Practice, they at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. Students can access their answers and solution materials (MCQ answer key, FRQ scoring guidelines) for the Digital Practice. Note: Taking the App Demo after completing Digital Practice may override student answers from Digital Practice. Teachers can also access digital practice from the teacher dashboard, available beginning April 22.

Taking the Digital Exam

Students should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that they’ll encounter—in the Digital Practice and on exam day:

  • As a reminder:
    • Students will answer all multiple-choice questions and type all free-response answers directly in the digital exam application. Scratch paper is permitted for notes or planning, but students cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses.
    • Students cannot go back to questions they’ve already answered, and cannot skip ahead.
  • Please note that students will respond to the DBQs and the last 2 SAQs in the same combined time limit of 1 hour and 40 minutes. Students must ensure they have enough time to answer all the questions in that section. This is equivalent to Section II on the paper exam.
  • On the DBQ, students will view the Documents directly in the exam app. They should click on the tabs on the left side of the screen, numbered 1 through 7, to view one source at a time. They may need to scroll down to view the tabs and the complete documents.
  • Exam directions and section-specific directions will not be read by a proctor–they’ll appear entirely in the application. Students will see them at the beginning of each section, and can access them at any time during the exam. Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear. While students should read the directions, they should be aware that the timer will be running while they do so. Teachers and students can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.

More information about taking digital exams is available in the Digital Testing Guide.

Digital Exam Readiness Dashboard

Beginning April 22, AP teachers and AP coordinators will have access to a new digital exam readiness dashboard. Teachers and coordinators will access the dashboard from their personalized AP login page (after signing in through AP Central or through myap.collegeboard.org). The dashboard can be used to monitor students’ progress in taking the steps necessary before and on exam day to enable them to take a digital exam. See details in the “Preparing for Digital AP Exams” section of the AP Digital Testing Guide.

Exam Date

  • Event
    • FRI, MAY 6, 2022, 8 AM LOCAL

    AP U.S. History Exam

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Exam Format

The AP U.S. History Exam has consistent question types, weighting, and scoring guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day.

Note on 2021 exams: There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP U.S. History only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Both the paper and digital versions of the AP U.S. History Exam will be full length and cover the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description.

Early May Exam (Paper) Late May and Early June Exams (Digital)

Section I, Part A: 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 I, Part A: 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 I, Part B: 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 I, Part B: Short Answer

3 Questions | 40 Minutes | 21% of Exam Score

  • Students analyze historians’ interpretations, historical sources, and propositions about history.
  • Questions provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know best.
  • Questions include texts, images, graphs, or maps.
  • Students answer 3 required questions, each one focusing on a different time period:
    • Question 1 includes  primary source text, and focuses on historical developments or processes between the years 1491 and 1980.
    • Question 2 includes a map source, and focuses on historical developments or processes between the years 1754 and 1980.
    • Question 3 includes a primary source image, and focuses on historical developments or processes between the years 1491 and 2001.

At most 1 SAQ in Section IB will focus primarily on historical developments or processes between the years 1491 and 1754 or between the years 1980 and 2001.

Section II: Document-Based Question and Long Essay

2 questions | 1 Hour, 40 minutes | 40% of Exam Score

Document-Based Question (DBQ)

Recommended Time: 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 to 1980.

Section II: Document-Based Question and Short Answer Questions

3 Questions | 1 Hour, 40 minutes | 39% of Exam Score

Please note that students will respond to the DBQ and the last two SAQs in the same combined time limit of 1 hour and 40 minutes.

Document-Based Question (DBQ)

Recommended time: 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 to 1980.

Long Essay

Recommended time: 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).

Short Answer Questions

Recommended time: 40 Minutes | 14% of Exam Score

  • Students analyze historians’ interpretations, historical sources, and propositions about history.
  • Questions provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know best.
  • Students answer 2 required questions, each one assessing historical developments or processes between the years 1754 and 1980 and with each one focusing on a different time period:
    • Question 2 includes a source with a data set (such as a chart, table, or graph).
    • Question 3 includes secondary source texts.

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

Scoring rubrics—general scoring criteria for the document-based and long essay questions, regardless of specific question prompt—are available in the course and exam description (CED).

As indicated above, the exam section weightings are slightly different on the digital exam as compared to the paper and pencil exam:

  • The multiple-choice section (40% of exam score) and the DBQ (25% of exam score) are weighted the same on the digital exam as on the paper exam.
  • On the digital exam, there is no LEQ and there are more SAQs. Each SAQ on the digital exam counts for 7% of the exam score.

2021: Free-Response Questions

Questions

Free-Response Questions