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Course and Exam Updates

Change to Range of History Covered

In addition to the new resources and processes that are coming to most AP courses in fall 2019, we’re making updates to the content covered in AP World History.

The current AP World History course and exam attempt to cover 10,000 years of human history—from the Paleolithic Era to the present. In contrast, colleges manage the unique breadth of world history by spreading the content across multiple courses. Because AP World History doesn't do so, a majority of AP World History teachers have told us that they were teaching too little about too much. Students’ essay scores on the end-of-year AP Exam have reflected that overwhelming challenge.

In response to these concerns, the AP World History: Modern course will begin in 1200 CE starting in the 2019-20 school year. We are committed to offering a course called AP World History: Ancient once we confirm interest among high schools and colleges.

Thank you for your passion, principled feedback, and continued support. We believe this new approach will best serve you and your students, and honor the full, essential story of human history.

Overview of Course and Exam Updates

The Course

2018-19 Starting in 2019-20

A course and exam description (CED) is available to help you plan your instruction.

Starting in late May 2019, you'll have access to an updated course and exam description (CED) that more clearly outlines all required course content and defines how that content will be assessed on the exam.

Watch a video overview of the updated CEDs.

Print copies will be available in easy-to-use, customizable binders in June 2019. Preorder your free copy using the 2019-20 AP Course and Exam Description Preorder Form.

The current CED divides the course into six historical periods covering the last 10,000 years of human history.

The updated CED divides the course into 4 historical periods ranging from ca. 1200 CE to the present.

The current CED is organized by a concept outline.

The updated CED organizes the course into 9 units structured by the four historical periods:

Regional and Interregional Interactions (ca. 1200 to ca.1450)

  1. The Global Tapestry
  2. Networks of Exchange

Global Interactions (ca. 1450 to ca. 1750)

  1. Land-Based Empires
  2. Trans-Oceanic Interconnections

Industrialization and Global Integration (ca. 1750 to ca. 1900)

  1. Revolutions
  2. Consequences of Industrialization

Accelerating Global Change and Realignments (ca. 1900 to the present)

  1. Global Conflict
  2. Cold War and Decolonization
  3. Globalization

This represents a sequence that is found in widely adopted college textbooks and that many AP World History teachers have told us they follow.

By organizing the course content and skills into units, we’re able to give you and your students free formative assessments—personal progress checks—that you can assign throughout the year to measure student progress.

We want to respect your time and expertise by providing a road map you can modify and adapt to your local priorities and preferences. You can choose to follow this suggestion for how content can be sequenced and paced. As always, you’ll have the flexibility to organize the course content as you like.

The current CED includes 5 unifying themes.

A sixth theme—Technology and Innovation—has been added.

In the current CED, multiple learning objectives are connected to multiple pieces of content from the concept outline.

Each learning objective is now clearly connected to a specific topic in the framework. With this kind of specificity, you and your students will know how that content will be assessed on the AP Exam.

The current CED includes history disciplinary practices and reasoning skills in a separate section not specifically integrated with the course content.

The framework in the updated CED now outlines more specific skills that AP World History students should practice throughout the year—skills that will help them learn to think and act like historians. For example, students will analyze historical developments and processes, analyze primary and secondary sources, and develop an argument.

In the current CED, the development of major world religions appears in the chronological sections in which they developed.

In the updated CED, the first historical period references the continuation of the major world religions as a foundation for understanding subsequent history.

The Exam

Starting in 2019-20, there will not be substantial updates to the AP World History exam beyond the course updates noted above.

  • The short answer questions will now be more tightly aligned with the course skills.
  • The weighting, timing, and number of questions in each exam section aren't changing.
  • The rubrics for the document-based question and long essay question aren't changing.

Key Dates for AP World History Teachers

  • 2019 AP Summer Institutes begin. Updated AP World History: Modern workshop materials will be available to provide context on the CED, unit guides, and other new resources.
  • 2019 CED binders are available. You can preorder your free copy now using the 2019-20 AP Course and Exam Description Preorder Form.
  • August 1: The AP Classroom system resources—including unit guides, personal progress checks, progress dashboard, and question bank—become available, along with interactive tutorials on how to make the most of these resources with your students.
    • Completing a simple digital activation process will give you immediate access to the system and ensure your students can register for the exams by the new fall deadlines.*
    • If you’re teaching a new AP World History course in 2019-20, you’ll need to have your AP Course Audit form approved by your administrator before you can access the system.*
  • Mid-August: 1-day workshops begin.
  • Your school’s AP coordinator will set up your class sections in the system. If your coordinator chooses not to create class sections, you can create your own.
  • Familiarize yourself with the system and start exploring the resources.
  • As you create your sequencing and pacing calendars, use the Course at a Glance and unit guides in the CED to inform your decisions. These can also help you determine how to fit the personal progress checks into your instruction so you and your students can receive timely instructional feedback.
  • Access the AP question bank to see what questions are available for you to assign to your students for instructional and assessment purposes throughout the year.
  • Before classes start, log in to the system to get join codes for each of your class sections.*
  • Post the join code for your class section on the board or distribute it to your students. Tell students to log in and join you class section before the next class.*
  • October 4: Preferred deadline for your AP coordinator to order 2020 AP Exams.
  • November 15: Deadline for your AP coordinator to order 2020 AP Exams.
  • Use your progress dashboard to see where students are demonstrating strength and where they have opportunities for further growth.
  • January 31, 2020: Deadline to submit your AP World History Course Audit form and have it approved by your administrator for 2019-20 AP Course Audit authorization.*
  • Before March: If your course started after November 15, 2019, make sure that all your students have joined your AP Classroom section and are following your AP coordinator’s directions about registering for AP Exams.*
  • March 13, 2020: Deadline for your AP coordinator to place exam orders for students in courses that started after November 15, 2019.*
  • Use the AP question bank and feedback on the progress dashboard to help students prepare for their AP Exams.
  • May 2020: AP Exam administration.

* = required action

AP World History: Ancient

For schools and students interested in AP coursework that covers 10,000 years of world history, we are committed to offering a second AP world history course—AP World History: Ancient.

To develop an AP World History: Ancient course, exam, and accompanying resources, we’ll first need to confirm the willingness of colleges to award credit for an additional AP World History Exam, and the interest among high schools to offer two full, separate AP world history courses. To fill out the interest form (for high schools) or the credit commitment form (for colleges), go to Confirming Interest in a New AP World History: Ancient Course and Exam.

For students who do not pursue a college-level AP world history course in 10th grade, we continue to recommend the Pre-AP World History and Geography course, a curriculum that gives teachers the flexibility to sample topics across the full sweep of world history. Students who take a Pre-AP course can stand out in college admissions. In Florida, for example, students receive GPA bonus points for taking Pre-AP classes. The Pre-AP course framework is freely available on our website for schools to download and use.

Frequently Asked Questions

There is wide agreement that the status quo—keeping the existing course, which covers 10,000 years of world history—is not a sustainable option.

The College Board collected extensive data from higher education institutions and secondary schools on how they manage the unique breadth of world history as a discipline. Colleges consistently divide the survey of world history across two or three courses. Colleges that offer a two-course world history survey overwhelmingly divide courses at the beginning of the modern era.

To ensure that the AP World History course qualifies a student for specific course credit in college, AP World History must align to an amount of content similar to that found in a specific college course. As most colleges only award credit to AP World History students for one college course, frequently modern world history, the immediate need is to move forward in the 2019-20 school year with an AP World History: Modern course and exam—now starting with 1200 CE—that will adequately measure the content and skills required for college credit in that course, while working with colleges and high schools to establish a new AP World History: Ancient course, designed to adequately address content and skills from those time periods.

This also ensures that AP World History teachers and students can access the same free, new resources and supports available for other AP courses starting in fall 2019. AP World History teachers will also have access to a confidential question bank and, for each topic in the course, a suite of online resources for each AP student to practice reading primary and secondary sources and writing evidence-based essays.

The College Board is eager to develop an AP World History: Ancient course and exam. As with any new AP course, we first have to confirm the support of colleges and the interest of high schools.

We will need a majority of colleges that receive AP scores to agree to offer credit for an additional AP world history exam. Interested colleges can download, sign, and submit a form attesting to their willingness to award such credit.

We’ll also need to confirm interest from a small proportion of high schools, typically 15% of those that offer AP, to offer 2 full, separate AP world history courses. Interested schools can download, sign, and submit a form outlining the approach they would use to offer two AP world history courses.

The AP Program continues to solicit support for a new AP World History: Ancient course and will provide updates on course development.

Similar standards were most recently met by higher and secondary education communities interested in a new AP Computer Science Principles course and exam. Advocates of new AP courses in other disciplines (e.g., engineering) are currently pursuing such credit policies and gauging secondary school interest, as well.

The majority of colleges only award AP World History credit for one course or an elective. However, we’ve reached out to the small number of colleges that currently award AP world history credit for both their ancient and their modern world history courses. We expect these colleges will be among the first to establish credit policies for an AP World History: Ancient course. In the meantime, we expect they will appropriately award AP credit for only the modern world history course equivalent on their campuses.

Pre-AP courses are designed to give all students the opportunity to learn the foundational knowledge and skills they need to be successful in AP and other college-level coursework. Pre-AP courses offer schools instructional frameworks and resources, student practice, and formative assessments in motivating, engaging courses that give all students the chance to become AP ready.

Students who take a Pre-AP course can stand out in college admission. In Florida, for example, students receive GPA bonus points for taking Pre-AP classes.

The Pre-AP World History and Geography course will be available for the 2019-20 school year, at the same time the College Board introduces the AP World History: Modern course. The Pre-AP course includes a course framework and instructional materials that give teachers the flexibility to select topics across the full scope of world history.

As with AP courses, the Pre-AP course framework is freely available on our website (.pdf/2.38MB) for schools to download and use. Schools that use the free framework can designate that course Pre-AP through the 2021-22 school year.

Beginning in 2022, following several years of work with college admission offices to evaluate the degree of consistency they expect to see when schools label courses “Pre-AP,” there will be specific requirements for schools that wish to use “Pre-AP” designation on student transcripts, but schools that don’t elect to use the official Pre-AP designation can continue to use the free course framework to structure their own local courses.

Schools that wish to be official Pre-AP Program participants can apply for teacher professional development and implement through-course assessments, final exams, and performance tasks in each Pre-AP course.

For these official Pre-AP programs, there is a cost to the school or district of approximately $10–$15 per student, in comparison to the cost of $94 per AP exam. There is no cost to students.