The Ultimate Guide to Acing the AP U.S. History Exam

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

The Ultimate Guide to Acing the AP U.S. History Exam

Are you ready to embark on a journey through the tapestry of American history? Whether you’re fascinated by the Founding Fathers, intrigued by the tumultuous eras of change, or just curious about how the U.S. became the powerhouse it is today, you’re in for an exciting ride. In this blog, we’re not just talking about passing the AP U.S. History Exam – we’re talking about acing it! Buckle up for a guide that goes beyond dates and facts, diving into the strategies, insights, and expert tips that will elevate your understanding of history and set you on the path to exam success.

From mastering document analysis to crafting impeccable essays, we’ve got your back. So, grab your time-traveling hat (figuratively, of course), and let’s dive into the world of AP U.S. History. Success awaits, and we’re here to guide you every step of the way!

What is the AP U.S. History Exam?

The AP U.S. History Exam is a rigorous assessment administered by the College Board. It is designed to evaluate students’ understanding of the history and development of the United States, from pre-Columbian times to the present day. This exam not only tests your knowledge of key events and individuals but also assesses your ability to analyze primary and secondary sources, evaluate historical evidence, and make connections between different periods.

When preparing for the AP U.S. History Exam, it is essential to have a comprehensive understanding of the major themes and concepts that have shaped the nation’s history. These themes include political and diplomatic history, social and cultural history, economic history, and intellectual and cultural history. By exploring these dimensions, students gain a holistic view of American history and are better equipped to answer the exam’s challenging questions.

One of the critical aspects of the AP U.S. History Exam is the analysis of primary and secondary sources. Students must critically examine documents, speeches, letters, and other historical artifacts to extract valuable information and insights. This skill not only helps students develop a deeper understanding of historical events but also enables them to construct well-supported arguments in their essays.

Furthermore, the exam requires students to make connections between different periods in American history. By identifying patterns, trends, and cause-and-effect relationships, students can demonstrate their ability to think critically and analyze historical developments over time. This skill is crucial in understanding how events in the past have shaped the present and can provide valuable insights into potential future outcomes.

Preparing for the AP U.S. History Exam involves a combination of studying key concepts, practicing analysis of primary and secondary sources, and honing critical thinking skills. It is essential to engage with various historical texts, including textbooks, scholarly articles, and primary sources, to develop a well-rounded understanding of the subject matter.

Ultimately, the AP U.S. History Exam is not only a test of factual knowledge but also a measure of a student’s ability to think critically, analyze historical evidence, and make connections. By approaching the exam with a comprehensive and analytical mindset, students can excel and gain a deeper appreciation for the rich and complex history of the United States.

What is on the AP U.S. History Exam?

The AP U.S. History Exam is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates students’ understanding of the history of the United States from its early colonization to the present day. It consists of two main sections: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. Let’s delve deeper into each of these sections to gain a better understanding of what is covered on the exam.

The Multiple-Choice Section

The multiple-choice section of the AP U.S. History Exam is designed to test your knowledge of historical facts, concepts, and interpretations. This section includes 55 questions that cover a wide range of topics, including political, social, economic, and cultural aspects of American history. The questions are presented in a format where you are given a statement or a question, followed by four possible answer choices. Your task is to select the most accurate and appropriate response.

These multiple-choice questions require you to not only recall specific information but also analyze and interpret historical events and developments. You must demonstrate your ability to identify cause-and-effect relationships, evaluate primary and secondary sources, and make connections between different historical periods and themes. The questions may also require you to compare and contrast different perspectives or analyze the significance of specific events or individuals in shaping American history.

Tackling the Multiple-Choice Section

To tackle the Multiple-Choice Section of the AP U.S. History Exam, follow these strategies:

  1. Break down the information by time periods: Familiarize yourself with the cultural history and key events of each time period to help you answer questions related to those periods more efficiently.
  2. Practice before the exam: Look up AP U.S. History practice questions to get used to the different types of content and phrasing that appear on the exam.
  3. Read the excerpts all the way through: Don’t skim or skip any parts of the excerpt, as it may contain important information for the question.
  4. Skip the stimuli and read the question: Determine what the question is asking and why you are reading the document before diving into the excerpt.
  5. Eliminate incorrect answers: Identify and eliminate incorrect answer choices as soon as possible to increase your chances of selecting the correct answer.
  6. Know the minutiae of the material: Ensure you thoroughly understand the small details and specific information related to the topics covered in the exam.
  7. Pace yourself: Keep an eye on the time and ensure you have completed at least half the items after 25 minutes.
  8. Read the answer choices: After reading the question, read the answers to see if any can be eliminated or if any stand out as the correct answer.
  9. Use historical context and point of view: Consider the time period, author, and historical context when reading the documents and answering the questions.

students opening a letter

The Free-Response Section

The free-response section of the AP U.S. History Exam challenges you to construct well-organized essays in response to prompts that measure your historical thinking skills. This section consists of two parts: a document-based question (DBQ) and two standard essay questions.

The DBQ prompt presents historical documents, such as letters, speeches, photographs, and a specific question or task. You must analyze these documents and use them as evidence to support your argument in an essay. This task assesses your ability to analyze primary sources, evaluate their reliability and bias, and construct a coherent and persuasive argument based on the evidence provided.

The two standard essay questions in the free-response section allow you to demonstrate your knowledge of broader historical themes and concepts. These prompts typically ask you to analyze a historical issue or development and provide a well-supported argument or analysis. You must draw upon your knowledge of historical events, individuals, and trends to construct a thoughtful and cohesive response.

Overall, the AP U.S. History Exam is a rigorous assessment that requires a deep understanding of American history and the ability to think critically and analytically. By covering a wide range of topics and skills, the exam aims to evaluate your readiness for college-level history courses and provide colleges and universities with a standardized measure of your historical knowledge and skills.

Tackling the Free-Response Section

To tackle the Free-Response Section of the AP U.S. History Exam, you can follow the strategies below:

  1. Master the rubrics: Understand the rubrics for the Short Answer Questions (SAQ), Document-Based Questions (DBQ), and Long Essay Questions (LEQ). Focus on how and when points are awarded and not rewarded.
  2. Focus on chronology, time periods, and course themes: This will help you write within the scope of the time period given in each question and avoid losing points by incorporating something outside of the time period being asked.
  3. Review commonly tested AP U.S. History topics: Review the curriculum and exam description to see the percentage breakdown of different units. Units 3 through 8 are always more important for the exam.
  4. Understand the question: Pay attention to each question’s wording and ensure you understand what is being asked before crafting your response.
  5. Plan your response: Take the time to plan your essay. Read the question, make notes, and write an outline before responding.
  6. Use evidence: Provide detailed evidence to support your thesis. Remember people, events, dates, and facts, and use them to strengthen your essay.
  7. Pace yourself: Allocate your time wisely. For example, the DBQ has a 60-minute time limit, including a 15-minute reading period, so manage your time effectively.


Here are some sample questions from previous exams that should give you an idea of what to expect in the exam:

samples from AP US History Exam samples from AP US History Exam samples from AP US History Exam samples from AP US History Exam samples from AP US History Exam

How long is the AP U.S. History Exam?

The AP U.S. History Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long. It comprises two sections: a multiple-choice/short-answer section and a free-response section. The multiple-choice section has 55 questions and lasts 55 minutes, the short answer section has 4 questions and lasts 50 minutes, the document-based question lasts 60 minutes (including a 15-minute reading period), and the long essay question lasts 40 minutes. The exam tests students’ understanding of historical concepts and ability to analyze primary and secondary sources.

Format of the AP U.S. History Exam

The AP U.S. History exam is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates students’ understanding of American history. It is a rigorous test that requires critical thinking, analytical skills, and a deep knowledge of historical events. Let’s dive into the format of this challenging exam.

Part A of the free-response section requires you to answer a document-based question (DBQ). This task involves analyzing historical documents and constructing an essay based on them. You must carefully examine each document, identify its main arguments or perspectives, and incorporate them into your essay. This exam assesses your ability to synthesize information from various sources and construct a well-supported argument.

Part B of the free-response section consists of two essay questions. One of these questions is an extended essay where you can demonstrate your in-depth knowledge of a particular topic. This essay prompt will require you to provide a detailed analysis, supported by evidence, and showcase your ability to craft a well-structured and coherent argument. The other essay question may ask you to compare and contrast different historical periods, events, or themes.

Preparing for the AP U.S. History exam requires diligent studying and practice. It is essential to review vital historical concepts, read primary and secondary sources, and familiarize yourself with different historical perspectives. Additionally, practicing timed multiple-choice questions and writing practice essays under exam-like conditions can help you build the necessary skills and confidence to excel on the exam.

Remember, the AP U.S. History exam is not just about memorizing facts and dates; it is about understanding the complexities of American history and being able to analyze and interpret historical evidence. So, embrace the challenge, immerse yourself in the fascinating stories of the past, and strive to become a knowledgeable and critical thinker of U.S. history.

AP U.S. History Exam Scoring Breakdown

Your AP U.S. History Exam performance is graded on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. The multiple-choice section accounts for 50% of your total score, while the free-response section makes up the other 50%. To earn a high score, it is essential to demonstrate both factual knowledge and strong analytical skills.

The multiple-choice section of the AP U.S. History Exam consists of 55 questions, which you will have 55 minutes to complete. This section assesses your ability to analyze and interpret primary and secondary sources, as well as your understanding of historical events, concepts, and themes. It requires you to apply critical thinking skills to answer questions that range from straightforward recall to more complex analysis and synthesis.

When approaching the multiple-choice section, reading each question carefully and considering all possible answer choices before selecting is crucial. Some questions may require you to identify the best answer, while others may ask you to analyze a given passage or image. Pay attention to the context and historical significance of the information provided to choose the most accurate response.

The free-response section of the AP U.S. History Exam consists of two essay questions, which you will have 100 minutes to complete. This section assesses your ability to construct well-organized and coherent arguments supported by historical evidence. It requires you to analyze primary and secondary sources, develop a thesis, and provide specific examples to support your claims.

When approaching the free-response section, it is essential to carefully read each question and develop a clear and concise thesis statement. Your thesis should address all parts of the prompt and provide a roadmap for your essay. It is essential to support your arguments with relevant historical evidence, such as specific events, documents, or individuals, and to explain the significance of your examples in relation to the question.

In addition to factual knowledge and analytical skills, the AP U.S. History Exam also assesses your ability to communicate your ideas in writing effectively. It is essential to use proper grammar, spelling, and punctuation, as well as to organize your thoughts in a logical and coherent manner. Clear and concise writing will help you convey your understanding of historical concepts and make your arguments more persuasive.

Overall, earning a high score on the AP U.S. History Exam requires a combination of content knowledge, critical thinking skills, and effective communication. By thoroughly preparing for the multiple-choice and free-response sections and practicing your analytical and writing skills, you can increase your chances of achieving a successful outcome on the exam.

Topics Covered in the AP U.S. History Exam

The AP U.S. History Exam is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates students’ knowledge and understanding of the nation’s history. This exam covers a wide range of topics, providing a thorough examination of the key events, individuals, and historical trends that have shaped the United States.

Guided by the Understanding by Design® (Wiggins and McTighe) model, this course framework outlines the essential components needed for student success.

The structure of the AP U.S. History framework encompasses nine frequently taught units of study, presenting a suggested sequence for the course. However, as always, you retain the flexibility to arrange the course content in a manner that suits your preferences.

Unit Exam Weighting
Unit 1: Period 1: 1491–1607 4%–6%
Unit 2: Period 2: 1607–1754 6%–8%
Unit 3: Period 3: 1754–1800 10%–17%
Unit 4: Period 4: 1800–1848 10%–17%
Unit 5: Period 5: 1844–1877 10%–17%
Unit 6: Period 6: 1865–1898 10%–17%
Unit 7: Period 7: 1890–1945 10%–17%
Unit 8: Period 8: 1945–1980 10%–17%
Unit 9: Period 9: 1980–Present 4%–6%

The AP U.S. History framework, detailed in the course and exam description, delineates specific skills students are encouraged to cultivate throughout the year. These skills aim to foster the development of a historian’s mindset, helping students learn how to think and act like historians.

Skill Description
1. Developments and Processes Identify and explain historical developments and processes.
2. Sourcing and Situation Analyze sourcing and situation of primary and secondary sources.
3. Claims and Evidence in Sources Analyze arguments in primary and secondary sources.
4. Contextualization Analyze the contexts of historical events, developments, or processes.
5. Making Connections Using historical reasoning processes (comparison, causation, continuity and change), analyze patterns and connections between and among historical developments and processes.
6. Argumentation Develop an argument.

One of the significant areas of focus on the AP U.S. History Exam is Native American civilizations. This topic delves into the rich and diverse cultures long before European settlers arrived on American soil. From the advanced agricultural practices of the Native American tribes in the Southwest to the complex political systems of the Iroquois Confederacy in the Northeast, understanding the contributions and experiences of Native Americans is crucial to comprehend the nation’s history.

Another pivotal period covered in the exam is the American Revolution. This topic explores the causes and consequences of the Revolutionary War, highlighting the ideological and political factors that led to the birth of a new nation. Students will delve into the debates surrounding the Declaration of Independence, the military strategies employed by the American colonists and the British forces, and the impact of the Revolution on various social groups.

The Civil War is also a significant focus of the AP U.S. History Exam. This topic examines the causes and consequences of the deadliest conflict in American history. Students will analyze the political, economic, and social factors that led to the outbreak of the war, as well as the military strategies employed by the Union and Confederate forces. The exam will also explore the impact of the Civil War on the lives of African Americans, women, and other marginalized groups.

a female student checking the college she wants

The Great Depression is another crucial topic covered in the exam. Students will study the causes and effects of the economic crisis that gripped the nation in the 1930s. They will examine the stock market crash of 1929, the Dust Bowl, and the New Deal policies implemented by President Franklin D. Roosevelt to combat the devastating effects of the Depression. Understanding the economic, social, and political ramifications of this period is essential to grasping the challenges faced by Americans during this time.

Lastly, the Civil Rights Movement is a prominent topic on the AP U.S. History Exam. This topic explores the struggle for racial equality and justice in the United States. Students will study key figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, and Malcolm X, as well as pivotal events like the Montgomery Bus Boycott and the March on Washington. Understanding the goals, strategies, and achievements of the Civil Rights Movement is crucial to comprehending the ongoing struggle for equality in America.

Overall, the AP U.S. History Exam covers a vast array of topics that are essential to understanding the nation’s history. From the rich cultures of Native American civilizations to the transformative events of the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and the Civil Rights Movement, this exam provides students with a comprehensive exploration of the United States’ past. By studying these topics in depth, students will gain a profound understanding of the nation’s history and its enduring impact on society.

Why is the AP U.S. History Exam important?

The AP U.S. History Exam is not only an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and skills in U.S. history but also a valuable asset for college admissions. By earning a high score on this exam, you can earn college credits, which may allow you to drop out of introductory history courses or even fulfill general education requirements.

Studying for the AP U.S. History Exam can be a challenging yet rewarding experience. It requires a deep understanding of the nation’s history, from its early beginnings to the present day. Through rigorous preparation, you will delve into the complexities of the American Revolution, the Civil War, the Great Depression, and other pivotal moments that have shaped the nation’s identity.

One of the key benefits of taking the AP U.S. History Exam is the opportunity to develop critical thinking and analytical skills. You will learn to evaluate evidence, identify bias, and construct well-supported arguments by analyzing primary and secondary sources. These skills are not only essential for success on the exam but also for future academic pursuits and professional endeavors.

Moreover, the AP U.S. History Exam allows you to engage with diverse perspectives and narratives. It encourages you to explore the experiences of marginalized groups, such as African Americans, Native Americans, women, and immigrants, whose stories are often overlooked in traditional history textbooks. By broadening your understanding of the past, you will gain a more comprehensive and inclusive perspective on American history.

Additionally, the AP U.S. History Exam provides an opportunity for self-reflection and personal growth. As you study the nation’s triumphs and struggles, you will inevitably confront complex ethical questions and grapple with the implications of historical events. This introspection can foster empathy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation for the complexities of the human experience.

Furthermore, excelling on the AP U.S. History Exam can open doors to prestigious colleges and universities. Admissions officers recognize the rigor of the AP curriculum and value students who have demonstrated their ability to excel in a challenging academic environment. A strong performance on the exam can strengthen your college application and increase your chances of admission to your dream school.

Lastly, the AP U.S. History Exam is not just about memorizing facts and dates. It is about understanding the broader themes and concepts that have shaped the nation’s history. By exploring the causes and consequences of historical events, you will gain a deeper appreciation for the complexities of the past and its relevance to the present. This knowledge will not only serve you well on the exam but also empower you to be an informed and engaged citizen.

How hard is the AP U.S. History Exam?

The AP U.S. History Exam is widely considered one of the most challenging AP exams due to its breadth of content and the complex analytical skills it requires. However, with proper preparation and effective study strategies, it is possible to succeed and earn a high score.

What factors affect the difficulty of the AP U.S. History Exam?

The difficulty of the AP U.S. History Exam can be influenced by several factors. Understanding these factors can help students prepare effectively and navigate the exam more successfully:

  1. Depth of Content:
    • The breadth and depth of historical content covered in the exam can affect its difficulty. The more extensive the material, especially detailed events, concepts, and historical figures, the more challenging the exam may be.
  2. Historical Thinking Skills:
    • The exam often requires students to apply historical thinking skills, such as analyzing primary and secondary sources, interpreting historical events, and making connections between different periods. The complexity of these skills can impact difficulty.
  3. Interpretation of Documents:
    • Document-based questions (DBQs) are a significant component of the exam. The difficulty depends on the complexity of the documents provided and the level of analysis required to respond effectively.
  4. Essay Prompts:
    • The essay prompts assess students’ ability to construct well-argued and evidence-based responses. The difficulty can be influenced by the nature of the prompts and the depth of analysis expected.
  5. Historical Themes:
    • In a given exam, the emphasis on specific historical themes, such as politics, culture, social structures, and economics, can affect its difficulty. A balanced representation of these themes contributes to a comprehensive and challenging test.
  6. Time Constraints:
    • The AP U.S. History Exam has time constraints for each section. The pressure to manage time effectively, especially during the DBQ and free-response sections, can impact the perceived difficulty.
  7. Course Preparation:
    • The effectiveness of the student’s preparation throughout the course plays a crucial role. A well-structured and comprehensive AP U.S. History course can better equip students to handle the exam’s challenges.
  8. Teacher Instruction:
    • The quality of instruction teachers provide throughout the academic year influences how well students grasp and retain historical concepts. Effective teaching methods contribute to better exam preparedness.
  9. Historical Controversies:
    • Exam questions may delve into historical controversies and debates. The complexity of these topics can add an additional layer of difficulty as students navigate nuanced perspectives.
  10. Reading and Analytical Skills:
    • Strong reading and analytical skills are essential for success. The difficulty of the exam may be influenced by the level of reading comprehension required and the complexity of the analytical tasks.
  11. Test-Taking Strategies:
    • Familiarity with effective test-taking strategies, such as time management, question prioritization, and essay organization, can impact a student’s ability to navigate the exam successfully.
  12. Changes in Exam Format:
    • Any changes in the exam format or question types can introduce an element of unpredictability, potentially affecting how well students perform.

Understanding and incorporating these factors into the preparation strategy can help students approach the AP U.S. History Exam more confidently and quickly.

Who should take the AP U.S. History Exam?

The AP U.S. History Exam is designed for high school students who have completed or are currently enrolled in an Advanced Placement (AP) U.S. History course. Typically, students take this exam at the end of the course as a culminating assessment. It is especially suitable for students interested in:

  1. History and Social Sciences:
    • Students passionate about history, political science, sociology, and related fields often find the AP U.S. History Exam engaging and relevant.
  2. Challenging Academic Rigor:
    • The exam is known for its challenging content and analytical components. Students seeking a rigorous academic challenge and the opportunity to earn college credit may opt for this exam.
  3. College-Bound Students:
    • Many colleges and universities recognize the AP U.S. History Exam and may grant college credit for high scores. Students aiming for admission to competitive colleges often take AP exams to showcase their academic prowess.
  4. Future History Majors:
    • Students considering a major or career in history or related fields may find the AP U.S. History Exam beneficial for building foundational knowledge and demonstrating their interest in the subject.
  5. Critical Thinkers:
    • The exam assesses factual knowledge, critical thinking, and analytical skills. Students who enjoy analyzing historical events, understanding cause-and-effect relationships, and interpreting primary and secondary sources may excel in this exam.
  6. Those interested in American Culture and Society:
    • The exam covers various American history, culture, society, and government topics. Students with a genuine interest in understanding the development of the United States may find the exam compelling.
  7. Curious Learners:
    • The AP U.S. History Exam encourages a deep exploration of historical events, themes, and perspectives. Naturally curious students who enjoy delving into the complexities of the past may find the exam intellectually stimulating.
  8. Students Seeking College Credit:
    • Many colleges and universities offer credit or advanced placement for high AP U.S. History Exam scores. Students looking to accelerate their college studies or fulfill history-related prerequisites may choose to take the exam.

While the AP U.S. History Exam is open to a broad range of students, it’s essential for individuals to consider their personal interests, academic strengths, and future goals when deciding to take the exam. Students should also consult with their teachers or academic advisors to ensure the exam aligns with their educational objectives.

Do colleges care about the AP U.S. History Exam?

Yes, many colleges and universities care about the AP U.S. History Exam, and performance on the exam can have a positive impact on college admissions. Here are several reasons why colleges value the AP U.S. History Exam:

  1. College Credit:
    • A high score on the AP U.S. History Exam may allow students to earn college credit or advanced placement in history-related courses. This can potentially reduce the number of required courses in college and provide flexibility in selecting advanced coursework.
  2. Demonstrates Academic Rigor:
    • Success on AP exams, including AP U.S. History, demonstrates a student’s willingness to tackle challenging academic coursework. Colleges often look favorably upon applicants who have engaged in rigorous academic programs.
  3. Preparation for College-Level Work:
    • The content and structure of the AP U.S. History Exam are designed to mirror introductory college-level history courses. Excelling in this exam suggests that a student is well-prepared for the demands of college-level work.
  4. Subject-Specific Proficiency:
    • Colleges appreciate subject-specific proficiency, and a strong performance on the AP U.S. History Exam signals a student’s depth of knowledge in American history. This can be particularly relevant for students considering majors or careers in history, political science, or related fields.
  5. Differentiation in Admissions:
    • With many college applicants presenting strong academic records, success on AP exams can help students stand out in the admissions process. It serves as an additional data point that demonstrates academic prowess.
  6. Alignment with College Curricula:
    • Many colleges use AP exam scores as a factor in determining course placements. A student who performs well on the AP U.S. History Exam may be eligible for advanced placement in related college courses.
  7. Preparation for College Essays and Interviews:
    • The analytical and critical thinking skills developed through AP U.S. History coursework and exam preparation can enhance students’ ability to articulate their thoughts in college essays and interviews.
  8. Interest in Academic Exploration:
    • Taking challenging courses and exams like AP U.S. History signals to colleges that students have a genuine interest in academic exploration and a commitment to learning beyond basic requirements.

While success on the AP U.S. History Exam is one factor in the holistic college admissions process, it’s important to note that different colleges have varying policies regarding AP credit and how they consider AP exam scores in admissions. Students are advised to research the specific policies of the colleges to which they plan to apply.

How to register for the AP U.S. History Exam

To register for the AP U.S. History Exam, follow these general steps:

  1. Enroll in an AP Course:
    • Typically, students take the AP U.S. History Exam after completing or while enrolled in an AP U.S. History course at their high school. Talk to your school counselor or AP coordinator to ensure you are enrolled in the appropriate course.
  2. Get Your AP Coordinator’s Information:
    • The school’s AP coordinator is responsible for organizing AP exams. Obtain the contact information for your school’s AP coordinator from your school’s counseling office.
  3. Create or Access Your College Board Account:
    • If you don’t have one already, create an account on the College Board website (collegeboard.org). If you have an account, log in. This account is where you will register for the exam, view scores, and access other College Board resources.
  4. Join Your Class Section:
    • Your AP teacher will provide you with a unique join code for your AP class section. Log in to your College Board account, navigate to the “My AP” section, and join your class using the join code provided by your teacher.
  5. Review the Exam Schedule:
    • Familiarize yourself with the AP Exam schedule, including the date and time of the AP U.S. History Exam. This information is available on the College Board website.
  6. Submit Exam Fees:
    • Some schools cover the cost of AP exams, while others may require students to pay a fee. Check with your school’s AP coordinator regarding the exam fee payment process. Fee reduction or financial assistance may be available for eligible students.
  7. Complete the Registration Process:
    • Log in to your College Board account, navigate to the “My AP” section, and complete the exam registration process. Ensure that you provide accurate information and review your registration details before submitting.
  8. Print Confirmation:
    • After successfully registering, print or save the confirmation page for your records. This page includes important information such as your exam confirmation number.
  9. Prepare for Exam Day:
    • As the exam date approaches, review the AP U.S. History Exam format, content, and any additional resources provided by your teacher. Be sure to know the location and time of your exam.
  10. Attend the Pre-Exam Session:
    • Your school may conduct a pre-exam session to provide important information and guidelines for exam day. Attend this session to ensure you are well-prepared.

Remember that specific procedures may vary by school, so it’s crucial to communicate with your AP coordinator and follow the guidelines provided by your school. Additionally, make sure to register for the exam by the deadline set by your school and the College Board.

How to study for the AP U.S. History Exam

Studying for the AP U.S. History Exam requires a strategic and comprehensive approach. Here’s a guide to help you prepare effectively:

1. Understand the Exam Format:

  • Familiarize yourself with the structure of the exam. Understand the types of questions (multiple-choice, short answer, document-based question, and long essay) and their respective weights in the overall score.

2. Create a Study Schedule:

  • Develop a study plan that spans several weeks or months before the exam. Allocate specific time slots for different content areas and question types. Consistent, spaced-out studying is more effective than cramming.

3. Use Reliable Study Resources:

  • Utilize reputable study materials such as review books, textbooks, and online resources. The College Board’s AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description is a valuable resource that outlines the content and skills required for the exam.

4. Attend Review Sessions:

  • Take advantage of any review sessions or study groups organized by your teacher or school. Collaborating with peers can provide different perspectives and insights.

5. Review Class Notes and Textbooks:

  • Revisit your class notes and textbooks regularly. Pay special attention to key concepts, events, and historical figures. Create or update your own study guide summarizing important information.

6. Practice Document Analysis:

  • Since the exam includes a document-based question (DBQ), practice analyzing historical documents. Understand how to extract relevant information and incorporate it into your responses.

7. Practice Writing Essays:

  • Work on your essay-writing skills. Practice responding to both long essay and short answer prompts. Focus on constructing clear, concise, and well-supported arguments within the time constraints.

8. Use Flashcards:

  • Create flashcards for key terms, dates, and concepts. Regularly review these flashcards to reinforce your memory.

9. Take Practice Exams:

  • Complete full-length practice exams under timed conditions. This helps simulate the exam environment and improves your time management skills.

Tips on the day of the exam

On the day of the AP U.S. History Exam, it is crucial to be well-rested and mentally prepared. Start your day with a nutritious breakfast to fuel your brain. Arrive at the exam location early to avoid any unnecessary stress.

When taking the multiple-choice section, read each question carefully and consider all possible answer choices before making your selection. Pace yourself to ensure you can complete the entire section within the allocated time. For the free-response section, carefully read and analyze each prompt before planning and writing your essay responses. Keep an eye on the time to allocate sufficient minutes to each question.

When is the AP U.S. History Exam in 2024?

The AP U.S. History Exam 2024 will be administered in schools on May 10th, 2024 at 8 a.m.

For a complete list of the 2024 AP Exam dates, here’s a full list:

Week 1 Morning 8 a.m.

Local Time

Afternoon 12 p.m.

Local Time


May 6, 2024

United States Government and Politics Art History



May 7, 2024

Human Geography





May 8, 2024

English Literature and Composition Comparative Government and Politics

Computer Science A


May 9, 2024

Chinese Language and Culture

Environmental Science


May 10, 2024

European History

United States History


Spanish Literature and Culture

Art and Design: Friday, May 10, 2024 (8 p.m. ET), is the deadline for AP Art and Design students to submit their three portfolio components as final in the AP Digital Portfolio.
Week 2 Morning 8 a.m.

Local Time

Afternoon 12 p.m.

Local Time

Afternoon 2 p.m.

Local Time


May 13, 2024

Calculus AB

Calculus BC

Italian Language and Culture



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When do AP scores come out?

AP scores are typically released in early to mid-July of the year the exams were taken. The exact release date may vary slightly from year to year, but students who took their AP exams in May can generally expect their scores to become available.

You can check for updates on the College Board’s official AP scores website if you are waiting for your AP scores. They will also email you when your scores are added to your score report. If you haven’t received your scores by mid-August, contacting AP Services for Students is recommended for assistance.

Post-exam tips

After completing the AP U.S. History Exam, take some time to reflect on your performance. Identify your strengths and areas for improvement. Reflecting on your mistakes can help you learn from them and enhance your study strategies for future exams.

Review your essays to identify potential errors or areas where you could have provided more effective analysis. Consider seeking feedback from your teacher or a knowledgeable peer to gain valuable insights. Finally, use your exam experience as motivation to continue learning and exploring the rich history of the United States.

By following these tips and dedicating time and effort to your preparations, you can confidently approach the AP U.S. History Exam and maximize your chances of acing it. Good luck!

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