The AP U.S. History Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long and has a multiple choice/short answer section and a free response section.  Each section is divided into two parts.

Section I — Part A: Multiple Choice | 55 Questions | 55 minutes | 40% of Exam Score

  • Questions appear in sets of 2 to 5.
  • You’ll be asked to analyze historical texts, interpretations, and evidence.
  • Primary and secondary sources, images, graphs, and maps are included.


Section I — Part B: Short Answer | 3 Questions | 40 minutes | 20% of Exam Score

  • Analyze historians’ interpretations, historical sources, and propositions about history.
  • Questions provide opportunities for you to demonstrate what you know best.
  • Some questions include texts, images, graphs, or maps.
  • You’ll have a choice between two options for the final required short- answer question, each one focusing on a different time period.
    • Question 1 (required): periods 3-8
    • Question 2 (required): periods 3-8
    • Choose between Question 3, periods 1-5, and Question 4, periods 6-9


Section II — Part A: Document Based | 1 Question | 60 minutes (includes a 15-minute reading period) | 25% of Exam Score

  • Assess written, quantitative, or visual materials as historical evidence.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • The document-based question will focus on topics from periods 3-8.


Section II — Part B: Long Essay | 1 Question | 40 minutes | 15% of Exam Score

  • Explain and analyze significant issues in U.S. history.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • You’ll select from one of three essay choices, each focusing on the same theme and skill but different time periods:
    • Option 1: period 1-3
    • Option 2: periods 4-6
    • Option 3: periods 7-9


How your learning will be assessed on the AP Exam:

The following are general parameters about the relationship between the components of the course framework and the questions that will be asked on the AP Exam:

  • Each AP Exam question measures your ability to apply historical practices and reasoning to one or more of the thematic learning objectives.
  • Multiple-choice questions expect that you’re familiar enough with the concept statements in each period of U.S. history to be able to answer questions about related primary and secondary source material.
  • All free-response questions reward you for accurately explaining the historical content your local curriculum focused on for each concept statement.
  • The coverage of the periods in the exam as a whole will reflect the approximate period weightings (see the table on page 19 of the Course and Exam Description).
  • Document-based and long essay questions may span more than one period, requiring you to address events or documents from multiple periods of the course.
  • Your understanding of all themes and periods of U.S. history will be assessed on the exam. The periods and skills that can be addressed in different sections of the exam are specified in the AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description (PDF/2.7MB).

Practice for the exam.

Links to More AP Pages