How Long Is the AP Art History Exam?

June 26, 2023
By AdmissionSight

How Long Is the AP Art History Exam?

The Advanced Placement (AP) Art History Exam is a challenging test that assesses a student’s understanding of world art history. The exam lasts for three hours and consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. In this article, we will delve into the format and structure of this exam in detail, identifying what you can expect on the test day and how to prepare yourself to excel on the AP Art History Exam.

Understanding the AP Art History Exam Format

The AP Art History Exam consists of two sections. The first section has 80 multiple-choice questions that test your knowledge of world art history from prehistoric times to the present day. The first hour is allocated to this section, and each question has five answer choices, with 10-15 images for reference. The second section comprises four free-response questions, broken into two 30-minute sets and two 15-minute sets. This section tests your understanding of particular art pieces and how they relate to multiple concepts from art history.

It is important to note that the AP Art History Exam covers a wide range of art forms, including painting, sculpture, architecture, and other visual arts. In addition, the exam also tests your ability to analyze and interpret art, as well as your knowledge of the cultural and historical contexts in which the art was created.

a large group of students taking an exam

Preparing for the AP Art History Exam requires a lot of studying and practice. It is recommended that students review key art movements, artists, and artworks, as well as familiarize themselves with art vocabulary and terminology. Additionally, practicing with past AP Art History Exam questions and taking practice exams can help students feel more confident and prepared on exam day.

What to Expect on the AP Art History Exam

On test day, you should arrive at the exam center at least 30 minutes before the exam begins. Keep in mind the inherent length of the exam, and you may wish to bring some snacks or water to keep you energized throughout the duration. Before the exam starts, there will be a brief orientation to inform you of the exam’s format and instructions on how to record your answers.

The AP Art History Exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response. The multiple-choice section consists of 80 questions, and you will have 1 hour and 40 minutes to complete it. The free-response section consists of two 30-minute essays and six 10-minute essays. You will have a total of 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete the free-response section.

It is important to note that the AP Art History Exam covers a wide range of art historical periods and styles, from ancient civilizations to contemporary art. Therefore, it is crucial to have a strong understanding of art historical concepts and terminology, as well as the ability to analyze and interpret works of art. To prepare for the exam, it is recommended that you review course materials, practice with past exams, and seek guidance from your teacher or tutor.

Portrait of young nerdy student studying with textbooks and write quotations on a book in the class

Tips for Preparing for the AP Art History Exam

Preparing for the AP Art History Exam can be an excellent way to improve your score and boost your confidence. One way to do this is by beginning your study regimen early and setting reasonable goals along the way. Create an effective study plan that focuses on understanding and memorizing art terms, concepts, and movements. Additionally, you might want to consider taking AP Art History practice quizzes, question banks, and using supplemental resources like textbooks and videos.

Another helpful tip for preparing for the AP Art History Exam is to practice analyzing and interpreting works of art. This can be done by visiting museums, galleries, and exhibitions, and taking notes on the different elements and techniques used in each piece. You can also practice analyzing images and artworks online, and discussing them with classmates or teachers.

high school students inside a classroom

Finally, it’s important to take care of yourself during the exam preparation process. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat healthy foods, and take breaks when needed. Don’t forget to also take care of your mental health by practicing stress-reducing activities like meditation or yoga. By taking care of yourself, you’ll be better equipped to handle the challenges of the exam and perform at your best.

How to Study Efficiently for the AP Art History Exam

Learning how to study effectively is crucial to passing any exam, including the AP Art History Exam. For example, taking regular breaks, using visual aids, and employing recall exercises are effective study methods. Additionally, you should pay close attention to the specific nuances and details of various art pieces and their cultural context, including historical and social factors affecting the creation of the artwork.

Another important aspect of studying for the AP Art History Exam is to practice analyzing and interpreting art pieces. This involves understanding the different elements of art, such as color, line, and composition, and how they contribute to the overall meaning and message of the artwork. It is also important to be familiar with different art movements and styles, as well as the artists associated with them.

Furthermore, it can be helpful to form study groups with other students who are also preparing for the exam. This allows for the sharing of ideas and perspectives, as well as the opportunity to quiz each other on important information. Additionally, seeking guidance from a teacher or tutor can provide valuable insights and feedback on your study methods and understanding of the material.

Common Mistakes to Avoid on the AP Art History Exam

One common mistake students make on the AP Art History Exam is to overlook the importance of reading the questions thoroughly. Take the time to answer each question completely and accurately, as partial credit can be awarded for most answers. Additionally, don’t be overconfident, and avoid focusing on obscure facts while neglecting more crucial details and concepts.

Another common mistake is to not study enough. The AP Art History Exam covers a vast amount of material, and it’s important to review all of it thoroughly. Make sure to create a study schedule and stick to it, focusing on areas where you may be weaker.

Finally, it’s important to understand the context of the artwork being studied. Don’t just memorize names and dates, but also understand the historical, cultural, and social context in which the artwork was created. This will help you to better analyze and interpret the artwork, and ultimately score higher on the exam.

Sample Questions from the AP Art History Exam

Here are a few examples of what kind of questions you might encounter in the multiple-choice section of the AP Art History Exam:

  • “Which of the following pairings correctly identifies artwork from indigenous Australian cultures?”
  • “In what time period did the Hagia Sophia become a mosque?”
  • “Which of the following artists was known for his ‘readymades’?”

Aside from the multiple-choice section, the AP Art History Exam also includes a free-response section where you will be asked to analyze and interpret specific works of art. This section will test your ability to apply your knowledge of art history to real-world examples.

It is important to note that the AP Art History Exam covers a wide range of art movements and styles, from ancient civilizations to contemporary art. Therefore, it is crucial to have a strong understanding of the major art movements and their characteristics in order to succeed on the exam.

African American students in a library

The Importance of Time Management on the AP Art History Exam

Time management is an essential skill when it comes to the AP Art History Exam. You will answer 80 multiple-choice questions in the first hour and four free-response questions in the 110 minutes provided. Therefore, you must have a strategy to manage your time effectively.

One effective strategy for time management on the AP Art History Exam is to start with the multiple-choice questions. These questions are generally easier and require less time to answer than the free-response questions. By completing them first, you can ensure that you have enough time to answer the more challenging free-response questions.

Another important aspect of time management on the AP Art History Exam is to pace yourself. You should aim to spend no more than 1.5 minutes on each multiple-choice question and no more than 27.5 minutes on each free-response question. This will help you stay on track and ensure that you have enough time to answer all of the questions on the exam.

Best Strategies for Answering Multiple-Choice Questions on the AP Art History Exam

When it comes to multiple-choice questions, there are various methods you can use to maximize your chances of getting the right answer. For example, reading the stem or the question’s phrasing first, then using the image afterward. Additionally, eliminate any unlikely answers and identify true-false concepts vital in the question’s evaluation.

Another strategy that can be helpful is to look for clues within the question itself. Sometimes, the wording of the question can provide hints about the correct answer. For instance, if the question asks about a specific time period or artistic movement, you can eliminate answers that don’t fit within that context.

It’s also important to pace yourself during the exam. Don’t spend too much time on any one question, as this can eat up valuable time that you could be using to answer other questions. If you’re unsure about a particular question, make an educated guess and move on. You can always come back to it later if you have time.

How to Approach Free-Response Questions on the AP Art History Exam

Free-response questions on the AP Art History Exam task you with analyzing artwork critically. You must explain the cultural period of the art, conceptual framework, and context. Some tips to keep in mind during these questions include using short, clear sentences, being concise, and structured writing.

Additionally, it is important to support your analysis with specific examples from the artwork. This can include discussing the use of color, composition, and symbolism. It is also helpful to consider the artist’s intention and the intended audience when analyzing the artwork. Remember to take your time and carefully read and analyze the prompt before beginning your response.

Resources for Further Preparation for the AP Art History Exam

If you’re interested in studying for the AP Art History Exam further, there are many resources available. You might consider taking advantage of review books like “Barron’s AP Art History” or “Crash Course Art History.” Still, online resources such as Khan Academy or Smarthistory, a Webby Award-winning platform for online art history education, could be of great help.

Another great resource for AP Art History Exam preparation is attending art museums and galleries. Visiting these places can help you gain a deeper understanding of the artworks you’re studying and provide you with a more immersive experience. Additionally, many museums offer guided tours or educational programs specifically designed for students studying art history. Taking advantage of these opportunities can be a great way to supplement your studies and gain a more well-rounded understanding of the subject matter.

Scoring and Grading of the AP Art History Exam

The AP Art History Exam is scored on a scale of 1-5, where 5 is the highest score possible. The multiple-choice section comprises 50% of your overall score, while the free-response section makes up the remaining 50%. This means that each free-response question is worth 12.5% of your overall score.

It is important to note that the free-response section of the AP Art History Exam consists of two parts: the long essay question and the short essay questions. The long essay question is worth 25% of your overall score, while the short essay questions are collectively worth 25%. In the long essay question, you will be asked to analyze a work of art in depth and provide a well-supported argument. The short essay questions will ask you to analyze and compare works of art from different time periods and cultures. It is crucial to manage your time effectively during the exam to ensure that you have enough time to complete both sections and earn the highest score possible.

Understanding Your AP Art History Exam Score Report

Once scores are released in July, you can check them online using your College Board account. Within this report is your score, your reason for studying art history, and your applicable test date and location.

Group of students studying next to each other.

It is important to note that your AP Art History exam score report also includes a breakdown of your performance on each section of the exam. This breakdown can help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, and can guide your future study efforts. Additionally, the report may include information on how your score compares to other students who took the exam, both nationally and globally. This can give you a sense of how well you performed in relation to your peers, and can help you set goals for future academic pursuits.

Comparing Your Score with National Averages and College Requirements

Each college or university determines which score ranges they will accept for college credit or placement. It’s wise to consider your chosen university’s AP credit and placement policies to ensure your score meets their acceptable range. You can also look at national averages for each score to determine how well you performed relative to other art history students.

In conclusion, understanding the AP Art History Exam’s format, studying effectively, and practicing test-taking strategies can all improve your chances of achieving a high score. Remember, the AP Art History Exam is a long, grueling test, so taking sufficient preparation and arriving at the test center early with all the necessary materials will give you the best chance of succeeding. Good luck!

Another important factor to consider when comparing your score with national averages and college requirements is the competitiveness of the college or university you are applying to. Some highly selective schools may require much higher scores than the national average or even the minimum score required for credit or placement. It’s important to research the specific requirements of each school you are interested in to ensure you are meeting their expectations.

Additionally, keep in mind that AP scores are just one aspect of your college application. Admissions officers also consider your GPA, extracurricular activities, essays, and other factors when making their decisions. While a high AP score can certainly strengthen your application, it’s not the only thing that matters. Focus on doing your best on the exam, but also make sure to put effort into all aspects of your college application.


If you want to discuss the matter to a greater extent or inquire about college admissions, look no further! Our experts here at AdmissionSight can definitely help you! Here at AdmissionSight, we have over a decade’s worth of experience guiding students through the competitive admissions process to get accepted to the top universities in the world. Feel free to set up an appointment today to book your initial consultation.


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