AP United States History

Learn all about the course and exam.

About the Course

Study the cultural, economic, political, and social developments that have shaped the United States from c. 1491 to the present. You’ll analyze texts, visual sources, and other historical evidence and write essays expressing historical arguments.

Skills You'll Learn

  • Evaluating primary and secondary sources

  • Analyzing the claims, evidence, and reasoning you find in sources

  • Putting historical developments in context and making connections between them

  • Coming up with a claim or thesis and explaining and supporting it in writing

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A two-semester introductory college course in U.S. history

Recommended Prerequisites

None

Exam Dates

  • Fri, May 8, 2020,
    8 AM Local

    AP United States History Exam

    This is the regularly scheduled date for the AP United States History Exam.

About the Units

The course content outlined below is organized into commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. Your teacher may choose to organize the course content differently based on local priorities and preferences.

Course Content

You’ll learn about Native American societies as well as how and why Europeans first explored, and then began to colonize, the Americas.

Topics may include:

  • Native American societies before European contact
  • European exploration in the New World
  • The Columbian Exchange
  • Labor, slavery, and caste in the Spanish colonial system
  • Cultural interactions between Europeans, Native Americans, and Africans

On The Exam

4%–6% of score

You'll study the colonies established in the New World by the Spanish, French, Dutch, and British.

Topics may include:

  • How different European colonies developed and expanded
  • Transatlantic trade
  • Interactions between American Indians and Europeans
  • Slavery in the British colonies
  • Colonial society and culture

On The Exam

6%–8% of score

You'll explore the events that led to the American Revolution and the formation of the United States and examine the early years of the republic.

Topics may include:

  • The Seven Years’ War
  • The American Revolution
  • The Articles of Confederation
  • The creation and ratification of the Constitution
  • Developing an American identity
  • Immigration to and migration within America

On The Exam

10%–17% of score

You’ll examine how the young nation developed politically, culturally, and economically in this period.

Topics may include:

  • The rise of political parties
  • American foreign policy
  • Innovations in technology, agriculture, and business
  • Debates about federal power
  • The Second Great Awakening
  • Reform movements
  • The experience of African Americans

On The Exam

10%–17% of score

You’ll learn how the nation expanded and you’ll explore the events that led to the secession of Southern states and the Civil War.

Topics may include:

  • Manifest Destiny
  • The Mexican–American War
  • Attempts to resolve conflicts over the spread of slavery
  • The election of 1860 and Southern secession
  • The Civil War
  • Reconstruction

On The Exam

10%–17% of score

You’ll examine the nation’s economic and demographic shifts in this period and their links to cultural and political changes.

Topics may include:

  • The settlement of the West
  • The "New South"
  • The rise of industrial capitalism
  • Immigration and migration
  • Reform movements
  • Debates about the role of government

On The Exam

10%–17% of score

You’ll examine America’s changing society and culture and the causes and effects of the global wars and economic meltdown of this period.

Topics may include:

  • Debates over imperialism
  • The Progressive movement
  • World War I
  • Innovations in communications and technology in the 1920s
  • The Great Depression and the New Deal
  • World War II
  • Postwar diplomacy

On The Exam

10%–17% of score

You’ll learn about the rivalry between the Soviet Union and the United States, the growth of various civil rights movements, and the economic, cultural, and political transformations of this period.

Topics may include:

  • The Cold War and the Red Scare
  • America as a world power
  • The Vietnam War
  • The Great Society
  • The African American civil rights movement
  • Youth culture of the 1960s

On The Exam

10%–17% of score

You’ll learn about the advance of political conservatism, developments in science and technology, and demographic shifts that had major cultural and political consequences in this period.

Topics may include:

  • Reagan and conservatism
  • The end of the Cold War
  • Shifts in the economy
  • Migration and immigration
  • Challenges of the 21st century

On The Exam

4%–6% of score

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See Where AP Can Take You

AP United States History can lead to a wide range of careers and college majors

Career Areas 72
Majors 21

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