AP United States History

Learn all about the course and exam.

About the Exam

The AP U.S. History Exam will test your understanding of the historical concepts covered in the course units, as well as your ability to analyze primary and secondary sources and identify patterns and connections that can support a historical interpretation.

Exam Duration
3hrs 15mins

Exam Dates

Exam Components

55 questions 55mins 40% of Score

The questions in the multiple-choice section come in sets of usually 3–4 questions based on the same stimulus. The questions will include one or more sources to respond to such as primary and secondary texts, images (for example, artwork, photos, posters, cartoons), charts, and maps.

You'll be asked to:

  • Analyze the provided sources
  • Analyze the historical developments and processes described in the sources

3 questions 40mins 20% of Score

In the short-answer section, you’ll write answers to questions in your test booklet. Some questions include texts, images, graphs, or maps.

  • Question 1 is required, includes 1–2 secondary sources, and focuses on historical developments or processes from 1754–1980.
  • Question 2 is required, includes 1 primary source, and focuses on historical developments or processes from 1754–1980.
  • You can choose between Question 3 ( which focuses on historical developments or processes from 1491–1877) and Question 4 (which focuses on historical developments or processes from 1865–2001) for the last question. No sources are included for either Question 3 or Question 4.

You'll be asked to:

  • Analyze the provided sources
  • Analyze historical developments and processes described in the sources
  • Put those historical developments and processes in context
  • Make connections between those historical developments and processes

2 questions 1hr 40mins 40% of Score

In the free-response section, you’ll write answers to questions in your test booklet. There are two questions: one document-based question and one long essay.

Document-Based Question
60 minutes | 25% of score
The 60-minute time limit for this section includes a 15-minute reading period. You’ll be presented with seven documents that give various perspectives on a historical development or process. You’ll be asked to develop and support an argument based on these documents and other evidence from your own knowledge. The topic of the document-based question will include historical developments or processes between the years 1754 and 1980.

Long Essay Question
40 minutes | 15% of score
You’ll have a choice of three questions; you’ll pick one to answer. Each tests the same skills and reasoning process (e.g., comparison, causation, or continuity and change) but the questions focus on historical developments and processes from different time periods (either the period from 1491–1800, from 1800–1898, or from 1890–2001). You’ll be asked to develop and support an argument based on evidence.

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