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AP European History Exam

Everything You Need to Know About the AP European History Exam

For advanced high school students throughout the United States, taking AP courses and exams, such as the AP European History Exam, is one of the very best ways to push your education to the next level and help your transcript stand out when you eventually begin applying for some of the nation’s top colleges and universities.

Not only do AP course allow advanced high school students to pursue the topics that they are passionate about and interested in to a deeper level within their high school curriculum, taking AP courses and exams such as the AP European History Exam allows students the opportunity to actually earn college credits during their high school career.

Not only does earning college credit in high school by way of AP courses look great on college applications, but it also gives your family the valuable opportunity to actually save a lot of money down the road. That is especially true if a student is able to score a perfect 5 out of 5 in an AP exam.

When it comes to the AP European History Exam, it is widely known one of the most difficult (and is actually one of the least taken) AP exams that are offered. In fact, last school year, only approximately 100,000 total students took the AP European Exam out of more than 5 million high school students that took an AP exam.

Amongst those 100,000 students that took the AP European History Exam, only about 11.7 percent of the students scored a perfect 5 out of 5. Here is a breakdown of the rest of the scoring from last year’s exam.

A breakdown of the rest of the scoring from last year’s AP European History exam

If you are considering taking the AP European History Exam in the upcoming school year, we at IvyCollegeAdmit know that one of the best ways to be a part of that small number of students who record a perfect score is to prepare as best you can.

What will you learn in AP Euro and what will the exam cover?

Overall, the AP European History class will allow students to look into the major moments, eras, and events that have helped shape the modern history of the Western world. While learning, students will be asked to analyze historical data, investigate historical data and evidence in order to fully understand the significance and value of moments in time throughout European history for the last 600-700 years.

Overall, there are seven themes that students will use to approach the history of Europe looking back to the year 1450 AD. Those themes are as follows:

  • Interactions between Europe and the world
  • Economic and commercial developments
  • Cultural and intellectual developments
  • States and other institutions of power
  • Social organization and development
  • National and European identity
  • Technological and scientific innovation

What students can expect out of the exam

Before we at IvyCollegeAdmit begin breaking down what students should expect out of the AP Euro History Exam, one important thing to make very clear is that the exam itself went through a fairly substantial overhaul back in 2015.

For one, the content within the course is more forces on the clear learning objectives for the exam. The AP Euro History overall has also changed. Back in 2016, the AP European History Exam featured fewer long essays and multiple-choice questions and now focuses more heavily on multiple-choice questions and short-answer questions.

The reason why this is so important is that while students study and prepare for the AP Euro History, any testing material that dates back before the year 2016 should be considered out of date, and while the information could be helpful, the format of the exam will be totally different and could have a large impact on a student’s ability to succeed on the actual exam day.

With that out of the way, let’s go over the specific units of history that cover the cultural, economic, political, and social developments that have shaped Europe and that will be covered in AP Euro and covered on the AP European History Exam.

The specific units of history covered in the exam

The specific units of history covered in the exam

Perhaps one of the reasons why the AP Euro History Exam is one of the least commonly AP exams taken and is considered to be one of the most difficult is because of its daunting length. It also heavily test a student’s writing abilities as well as their ability to argue a point of view through their writing.

In total, the AP European History Exam clocks in at a total time of three hours and 40 minutes. It is made up of four different sections that are allotted times between 40 minutes and one hour.

Those sections are as follows:

  • Multiple Choice: Comprised of 55 individual questions, with each student given 55 minutes to complete the section. This section makes up 40 percent of the total score of the AP European History Exam.
    • In this section, students can expect students to typically come in groups of three or four based on the same over-arching stimulus. They may also include other sources such as text, images, maps, charts, and more.

Sample multiple-choice questions on the AP European History exam

  • Short Answer: Comprised of three total questions, with each student give 40 minutes to complete the section. This section makes up 20 percent of the total score of the AP European History Exam.
    • In this section, students can expect the first short-answer question to focus on historical development between 1600 and 2001 and will include one or two secondary sources that students will be expected to utilize.
    • The second short-answer question will focus on the same content as the first question but will only utilize one primary source.
    • The final short-answer question gives the student the chance to answer one of three questions that will cover a different span of time in European history. Those spans of time include 1450 to 1684, 1815 to 1914, and 1914 to today.

A sample short-answer question on the exam

  • Document-Based: Comprised of just one question, with each student getting one hour to complete the section. This section makes up 25 percent of the total score of the AP European History Exam.
    • The document-based question is focused on historical development that took place between 1600 and 2001. Students taking the test are presented with seven total documents that offer various perspectives on the given event and are then responsible for coming up with an argument using both the documents provided as well aa their own knowledge of the topic.

Sample document-based question on the AP European History exam

  • Long Essay: In this section, students will get the option to choose one of three different long essay topics and they get 40 minutes to complete their work. This section takes up 15 percent of the total score of the AP European History Exam.
    1. Test takers will be given the choice to choose from three separate questions, with all of them used to determine the student’s ability to develop and support arguments based on the evidence related to different historical time periods. Those periods of time include 1450 to 1684, 1815 to 1914 and 1914 to today.

A sample long-answer question on the exam

How to best prepare for the AP European History Exam

When it comes to scoring the elusive 5 out of 5 on the AP European History Exam, there are great ways to prepare yourself. Of course, doing well in an AP exam is based on more than just mastering the material. It is crucial to also master the actual format of the AP Euro History exam.

In order to do that, there are some great ways to make sure that you are going to get the most out if. Here are the major steps that you can take in order to maximize the chances you have at success.

Analyze your skills and knowledge

Before you begin really studying for the AP European History Exam, you are going to want to sit down and take a sample test so that you can get a good idea of your mastery of the material already. There are a number of different valuable resources that you can take advantage of in order to test yourself and see where you stand.

Another great thing to consider is to take a practice exam and use it as a learning experience. After you have completed the exam, put your exam and the sample answers side-by-side and see where you are at your strongest and where you are at your weakest.

Study the material

As you well know, the AP European History Exam will test a student’s ability to not only memorize the significant events in European history but also test the student’s ability to analyze information in many different forms in order to form novel arguments and points of view.

There are a few fantastic ways to improve your chances of success. Some of the best tips deal with how students choose to approach and study the material related to the AP European History Exam, and those are as follow:

  • Think analytically as much as possible: One of the best ways to prepare for a better understanding of the material for the AP European History Exam is to find your inner historian and think like one too. Strengthen your ability to analyze the primary and secondary sources, making comparisons across history as well as chronological reasons and sharpening up your ability to develop an argument.
  • Refer to the most popular study guides: One of the best ways to familiarize yourself with the content that you want to improve your knowledge and understanding of is to take advantage of some of the best study guides and booklets that are focused on mastering the topics related to the AP European History Exam. There are a number of great options that you can choose from, so make sure that you do your research to find out which study guides will help you improve the aspects of the exam that you are looking to work on.
  • Take advantage of available online resources and apps: As the world continues to shift online, AP exams have absolutely followed and there is actually a fantastic option that you can utilize online. There is even a free smartphone application that you can use to study the AP European History Exam while you are on the go.

Practice the format of the exam

As previously mentioned, one of the most important parts of mastering the AP European History Exam is not only understanding the material and memorizing important dates, names, periods, eras, facts, and more. It is also incredibly important to memorize the format of the exam so that when the exam day arrives, your mind will be ready to tackle the arduous task of the over-three-hour-long exam.

Make sure to find a few great and up-to-date resources in order to take a multiple-choice and free-response questions that you could come across in the actual exam.

If you are curious about where to look, two of the best places to look are for sample exams in study guides as well as looking at past exams that have been taken in previous years. However, it is important to remember that all of the tests that were administered prior to 2016 are presented in a different format. While the information on those past exams is certainly useful and applicable to the information that you may come across in an exam in an upcoming school year, it is far more helpful to focus on exams that are in the same format of this upcoming year.

Take a timed practice test

As the day of the AP European History Exam arrives, you are going to want to not only take practice exams in their entirety, you are also going to want to make sure that you are timing yourself when you take the test exams just as you will be timed during the day of the actual exam.

After you take these timed practice exams at home, make sure that you go back to your answers, and the answers that are offered in the practice exam so that you can learn from the mistakes that you have made in order to increase the chances of success when the day of the actual AP Euro History exam comes.

While taking practice exams is very important, one thing to keep in mind that as the exam day really approaches, and we’re talking a few days away, it is time to start giving the major preparations a bit of a break. At this point, you have to trust that you have prepared as best you can and focus on giving your brain the rest and fuel it needs to succeed.

When it comes to getting the most out of any AP Exam, we at IvyCollegeAdmit know that the task can be daunting and the pressure can be quite overwhelming. If you are feeling anxious leading up to the exam day, simply remind yourself that the mere fact that you have decided to pursue advanced learning while in high school is considered a major plus in the eyes of college admission officers. While scoring a 5 or a 4 is of course ideal, you are already ahead of the curve the moment you get in the room. Once you sit down, all you have to do is trust all the hard work that you have done and let your answers speak for themselves. You’ll do great!

Good luck!

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