How Hard Is AP European History? An In-Depth Look

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

EU flags waving in front of the Parliament building

How Hard Is AP European History? An In-Depth Look

AP European History is a challenging course that requires dedication and hard work but can also be an enriching experience. In this article, we delve into the intricacies of AP European History, examining its course framework and demands, frequent hurdles learners encounter, strategies for efficient preparation, essential personalities and occurrences to be aware of, and many other insights.

The Benefits of Taking AP European History

There are many benefits to taking AP European History. It provides a rich understanding of European history and can help students develop critical thinking skills, improve their writing ability, and prepare for college-level coursework. Additionally, students who score well on the AP exam can earn college credit or advanced standing, potentially saving money and time in college.

Another benefit of taking AP European History is that it can enhance a student’s cultural awareness and appreciation. By studying Europe’s history, art, literature, and philosophy, students can gain a deeper understanding of the diverse cultures and traditions that have shaped the continent. This can broaden their perspective and foster a greater appreciation for cultural diversity.

Furthermore, taking AP European History can also improve a student’s research and analytical skills. The course requires students to analyze primary and secondary sources, evaluate historical arguments, and develop their interpretations of historical events. These skills are valuable not only in college but also in many careers that require critical thinking, research, and analysis.

Understanding the Course Structure and Expectations

AP European History covers European events and culture from the Renaissance to today. It is designed to provide a comprehensive understanding of European history’s key themes and developments. The course requires a significant amount of reading, critical analysis, and writing and the ability to synthesize information from primary sources and secondary texts. Students are expected to participate in class discussions, complete regular assignments, and prepare for exams.

Young attractive librarian reading a book between library bookshelves

The course will also include a research project that will require students to conduct independent research on a topic related to European history and present their findings in a written report and oral presentation. This project will allow students to develop their research and presentation skills and deepen their understanding of a specific aspect of European history.

Common Challenges Faced By Students in AP European History

One of the main challenges of AP European History is the sheer amount of information to be learned and the depth of analysis required. Many students struggle with time management and balancing the demands of this course with other responsibilities. Additionally, the writing and critical thinking skills needed for success in AP European History can be challenging to develop and master.

Another challenge students often face in AP European History is the complexity of the subject matter. The course covers a vast range of topics, from the Renaissance to the World Wars, and requires a deep understanding of each period’s political, social, and cultural contexts. This can be overwhelming for some students, especially those unfamiliar with European history or struggling with memorization.

Tips for Effectively Studying for AP European History Exams

Effective studying is essential for success in AP European History. Students should review class notes, read and analyze primary and secondary sources, create outlines, and complete practice test questions to prepare for exams. Flashcards and review games can also help memorize critical terms and concepts. Developing strong time management skills and prioritizing studying for AP European History exams over other activities is essential.

In addition to these study techniques, forming study groups with classmates can be helpful. Collaborating with others can provide new perspectives and insights into the material. Taking breaks and practicing self-care during the studying process is also essential. Getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising can all contribute to better academic performance. Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for help from teachers or tutors if needed. They can provide additional resources and support to help you succeed in AP European History.

The Importance of Historical Context in AP European History

To understand the key themes and developments in European history, it is essential to consider events within their historical context. Understanding the economic, social, and political conditions that shaped European history is crucial for analyzing primary sources and understanding historical events. Students should also be familiar with key historical figures and their contributions to European history.

Furthermore, studying historical context allows students to understand the motivations and perspectives of individuals and groups during different periods. For example, understanding the religious tensions between Catholics and Protestants during the Reformation can shed light on the actions of political leaders and the impact of these tensions on European society.

Analyzing historical context can also help students connect past events and current issues. By examining the causes and effects of events such as the Industrial Revolution or World War I, students can better understand the roots of modern-day economic and political systems and ongoing global conflicts.

Analyzing Primary Sources: A Key Skill for AP European History Success

AP European History requires a deep understanding of primary sources, including letters, diaries, and other original documents. Analyzing these sources critically and extracting relevant information is crucial for success in this course. Students should learn how to identify bias, consider the author’s perspective, and analyze the intended audience to understand primary sources completely.

a female student studying

Furthermore, analyzing primary sources can help students develop critical thinking skills. By examining the original’s context, students can better understand the historical events and the people involved. This can lead to a more nuanced interpretation of history and a greater appreciation for the complexities of the past. Additionally, analyzing primary sources can help students develop their writing skills as they learn to incorporate evidence from original documents into their arguments and analysis.

How to Master Essay Writing in AP European History

Writing is an essential component of AP European History, and mastering essay writing is critical to success in this course. Students should develop a strong thesis statement, use evidence to support their claims and analyze primary sources critically. It is also essential to clearly understand structure and format and adhere to the rubric when writing essays.

Writing something in a notebook on a table.

Another essential aspect of mastering essay writing in AP European History is to practice time management. Students should allocate enough time to plan, write, and revise their essays. Spending 10-15 minutes planning and outlining the report, 40-45 minutes writing it, and 5-10 minutes revising and editing it is recommended. Additionally, students should practice writing under timed conditions to simulate the exam environment and improve their speed and efficiency.

Key Figures and Events to Know for AP European History

To succeed in AP European History, students should be familiar with key figures and events, including the Renaissance, the Age of Exploration, the Enlightenment, the Industrial Revolution, World War I and II, and the Cold War. In addition to these events, students should be familiar with critical cultural and intellectual movements, including art, literature, and philosophy.

Another important event to know for AP European History is the French Revolution, which significantly impacted European politics and society. The revolution began in 1789 and lasted for a decade, leading to the French monarchy’s overthrow and Napoleon Bonaparte’s rise. The French Revolution also inspired other revolutionary movements throughout Europe, and its ideas of liberty, equality, and fraternity continue to influence political and social activities today.

Comparing AP European History to Other Advanced Placement Courses

AP European History is a rigorous course but is not the only advanced placement option for students. Other AP courses, such as AP US History and AP World History, cover different regions and historical periods and may better fit some students depending on their interests and goals. It is essential to consider your strengths and interests when choosing a course.

AP US History covers the history of the United States from the pre-Columbian era to the present day. It focuses on the political, economic, and social developments that have shaped the country and its people. Students interested in American history and politics may find this course more engaging than AP European History.

AP World History, on the other hand, covers the history of the world from the emergence of human societies to the present day. It explores the interactions between different regions and civilizations and how they have shaped the modern world. Students interested in global history and cultures may find this course more appealing than AP European History.

How to Choose the Right Study Materials for AP European History

Choosing suitable study materials is essential for success in AP European History. Textbooks, review books, and online resources can help study and review, but selecting materials aligned with the course curriculum and exam is essential. Consulting with teachers and other students can also help identify the most effective study materials.

An unidentified girl holding a pile of books.

One crucial factor to consider when choosing study materials for AP European History is the level of detail they provide. Some materials may provide a broad overview of the course content, while others may delve deeper into specific topics. Depending on your learning style and the time you have to study, you may prefer one material over another.

Another consideration is the format of the study materials. Some students prefer physical textbooks or review books, while others prefer online resources such as videos or interactive quizzes. Choosing a design that works best for you and allows you to absorb and retain the information is essential.

Strategies for Time Management During the Exam

Managing your time effectively during the exam is critical to success in AP European History. Students should read all questions carefully, prioritize questions based on difficulty and point value, and manage their time wisely. It is also essential to check your work and review your essays for accuracy and clarity.

A post it note with the word manage your time.

Another critical strategy for time management during the exam is to pace yourself. It can be easy to get caught up in one question and spend too much time on it, leaving little time for the rest of the exam. To avoid this, set a time limit for each question and stick to it. If you run out of time, quickly jot down any remaining thoughts or ideas and move on to the next question. Remember, it’s better to answer all questions to the best of your ability than to leave some unanswered due to poor time management.

Top Colleges and Universities That Value AP European History on Applications

Many top colleges and universities value AP European History on applications, indicating a student’s willingness to take on a rigorous academic challenge and a deep interest in history. Colleges and universities also recognize the value of developing critical thinking skills, improving writing ability, and preparing for college-level coursework. Some top schools that value AP European History include Stanford University, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Additionally, AP European History can give students a strong foundation in understanding global events and their impact on society. This knowledge can be helpful for students pursuing careers in law, politics, and international relations.

Furthermore, students who excel in AP European History may also have the opportunity to earn college credit, saving them time and money in the long run. This can also allow students to take more advanced courses in college and potentially graduate earlier.

Moreover, taking AP European History can also enhance critical thinking skills and broaden students’ perspectives on global issues. Through studying European history, students can gain a deeper understanding of the cultural, political, and economic forces that have shaped the world we live in today. This knowledge can be applied to various fields, including international relations, law, and business. Overall, AP European History is a valuable academic pursuit and a means of personal growth and development.

AP European History is a challenging but rewarding course that can provide students with a comprehensive understanding of European history and prepare them for college-level coursework. Students can succeed in this rigorous course by developing strong time management skills, using effective study materials, and mastering critical skills such as analyzing primary sources and essay writing. With dedication and hard work, AP European History can be excellent preparation for college and future success.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Sign up now to receive insights on
how to navigate the college admissions process.