European History AP test discription

The AP European History Exam

 Exam Description

The AP European History Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long and includes both a 105 minute multiple-choice/short-answer section and a 90 minute free-response section.  Each section is divided into two parts, as shown in the table below.  Student performance on these four parts will be compiled and weighted to determine an AP exam score.


Question Type

Number of Questions


Percentage of Total Exam Score


Part A: Multiple-Choice Questions

55 Questions

55 minutes



Part B: Short-Answer Questions

4 Questions

50 minutes



Part A: Document Based Question

1 Question

55 minutes (includes a 15 minute reading period



Part B: Long Essay Question

1 Question (Chosen from a pair of questions

35 minutes


 Time Management

Students need to learn to budget their time so that they can complete all parts of the exam.  Time management is especially critical with regard to Section II, which consists of two essay questions.  To assist students in budgeting their time, Section II begins with a 15 minute reading period during which students are encouraged to read the questions and plan their answers.  After the conclusion of the reading period, students have 75 minutes to write their answers.  Time left is announced, but students are not forced to move to the next question.  Students often benefit from taking a practice exam under timed conditions prior to the actual exam administration.

 Multiple-Choice Questions

The multiple-choice section will consist of 55 questions, organized into sets of three to five questions that ask students to respond to stimulus materials (i.e., a primary or secondary source, including texts, images, charts, graphs, maps, ect.)  Each multiple-choice question will address one or more of the learning objectives for the course as well as directly connect to the concept outline and to one or more course themes.  Each question will also test one or more of the nine historical thinking skills discussed in the curriculum framework, reflecting the course’s emphasis on the acquisition and application of historical reasoning.  While a question within that set may ask students to make connections to thematically linked developments in other periods.

 Multiple-choice questions will assess students’ ability to reason about the stimulus material in tandem with their knowledge of the historical issue at hand.  The possible answers for a multiple-choice question will reflect the level of detail present in the required historical developments found in the concept outline for the course.  Events and topics contained in the illustrative example lists will not appear in multiple-choice questions unless accompanied by text that fully explains that topic to students.

 Short-Answer Questions

The short-answer section will consist of four questions that require students to use historical thinking skills and content knowledge to respond to stimulus material, a historian’s argument, or a general proposition or question about European history.  As in the multiple-choice section, stimulus material may consist of a primary or secondary source, including texts, images, charts, graphs, maps, ect.  At least two of the four short-answer questions will include stimulus material.  Each short-answer question will directly address one or more of the nine historical thinking skills.  Each short-answer question will ask students to analyze historical developments and/or processes sing examples drawn from the concept outline or other examples explored in depth in classroom instruction.  The short-answer questions may require students to take a position based on the stimulus material presented, identify a significant cause or effect, or account for differences and similarities in perspectives, historical developments, ect.

 Note that the short-answer questions do not require students to develop and support a thesis statement. In all short-answer questions, students will be asked to do three things, each of which will be assigned one point in the scoring.

 Document-Based Question

The document based question emphasizes the ability to analyze and synthesize historical evidence, including textual, quantitative, or visual materials.  The question also requires students to formulate a thesis and support it with relevant evidence.  The five to seven documents accompanying the document-based question are not confined to a single format, may vary in length, and are chosen to illustrate interactions and complexities within the material.  The diversity of materials – which could include charts, graphs, cartoons, and works of art alongside written documents – will allow students to assess the value of different kinds of documents and to call upon a broad spectrum of historical skills.  Each document-based question will focus on one targeted skill – such as causation, continuity, and change over time, or comparison – that varies from year to year.

 The document-based question will typically require students to relate the documents to a historical period or theme and, thus, to focus on major periods and issues.  For this reason, this document-based question will also assess students’ ability to incorporate outside knowledge related to the question and beyond the specifics of the documents.  This ability to place the documents in the historical context in which they were produced is essential for student success.

 Long Essay Question

To provide opportunities for students to demonstrate what they know best, students will be given a choice between two comparable long essay options.  The long essay questions will measure the use of historical thinking skills to explain and analyze significant issues in European history as defined by the thematic learning objectives.  As with the document-based question, student essays will require the development of a thesis or argument supported by analysis to illustrate in their responses that they have mastered a targeted skill, such as continuity and change over time, comparison, causation, or periodization.

 Both long essay questions on the exam will target the same skill, which varies from year to year, and the tasks required of students will be very similar.  The questions will address different chronological periods and topics.  Questions will be limited to topics or examples specifically mentioned in the concept outline but framed to allow student answers to include in-depth examples, drawn either from the concept outline or from topics beyond the concept outline discussed in the classroom.