How Long is the AP European History Exam?: Tips to Manage Your Time for a 5
The AP European History exam tests your knowledge of European history and your ability to think analytically about historical events that happened in the continent.
To help you prepare, let’s break down the AP European History exam into sections and look at some tips on how to tackle each section effectively under the given time constraints — AP test time management is crucial to success on the exam.
How Long is the AP European History Exam?
The AP European History exam has two sections, each with two parts. The total exam is three hours and 15 minutes long. The details of each section and part are outlined in the table below:
|Section I Part A: Multiple Choice||55 Questions
40% of total exam score
|Section I Part B: Short Answer||4 Questions
20% of total exam score
|Section II Part A: Document Based||1 Question
55 minutes (including a 15-minute reading period)
25% of total exam score
|Section II Part B: Long Essay||1 Question
15% of total exam score
First, let’s look at Section I in greater detail to help you prepare for this first part of the exam.
How Long is the AP European History Exam Section I?
The first part of Section I of the AP European History Exam is Multiple Choice. You will have 55 minutes to answer 55 questions, which works out to exactly one minute per question. This part accounts for 40% of your total exam score.
In Part A, questions appear in sets of two to five. You will have to analyze historical texts, including primary and secondary sources, images, and graphs. It is important spend some time fully studying and understanding the evidence provided, as you will have to refer to the same sources to accurately answer multiple questions.
The second part of Section I of the AP European History Exam is Short Answer. You will have 50 minutes to answer four questions, which works out to slightly over 12 minutes per question. This part accounts for 20% of your total exam score.
In Part B, you can expect a variety of questions involving maps, images, and text. The questions are intentionally broad and are designed for you to demonstrate what you know best, so write about topics you are very comfortable with.
How to Manage Your Time in Section I of the AP European History Exam
While the exam structure may appear daunting, there are some things you should keep in mind to maximize your score on Section I:
- Because many of the multiple-choice questions come in groups, you can use chronology to come to the correct answer, even if you are not completely confident yourself. Use all the questions in the groups, along with associated the answer choices, to arrive at an educated guess for a question you are struggling with. In addition, because you only have one minute per question on average, it is important to recognize when to cut your losses and move on. And do not give up on an entire set of multiple-choice questions just because you struggled with the first one. Often, you can use the information given in previous questions to correctly answer the next one.
- Read all questions carefully and pay special attention to phrases with words like “except”. Some questions will ask you to choose the answer that does not satisfy the question. Often, students rush to find the correct answer, which can be one of the first choices, and quickly select it and move on. Don’t let a careless mistake cost you points. Make sure you highlights words in the question that can trip you up, and spend a few seconds carefully reading through all the possible choices. Being an active and careful reader can prevent you from losing points on the exam.
Hopefully, these tips will help you with your AP European History test time management. Now, let’s break down Section II of the AP European History Exam.
How Long is the AP European History Exam Section II?
The first part of Section II of the AP European History Exam is the Document Based Question. As you would expect, you are not given any choices to select. You have 15 minutes to peruse the documents provided, and 40 minutes to answer a question using the evidence. This section accounts for 25% of your total exam score.
Here, the test gives you various documents that you must spend time understanding and analyzing. Once the reading period is complete, you must respond to the prompt by synthesizing the evidence provided to craft a cohesive argument.
The second part of Section II consists of one Long Essay Question. You are given 35 minutes to answer this question, which counts for 15% of your total exam score. Here, you choose one question from the two provided and develop an argument that is supported by historical evidence. You are not provided any evidence, so you must rely on your own knowledge to make your points.
How to Manage Your Time in Section II of the AP European History Exam
Free Response questions can be a little scary because you can’t guess if you’re not sure of yourself. However, we believe these AP test time management tips will help you ace Section II.
- Group your documents when answering the Document Based question (Part A). Make sure you sort your documents into three or more categories based on how the evidence presented fits in with these concepts: politics, economics, imperialism, nationalism, humanitarianism, religion, society & culture, intellectual development & advancement. Once you make proper groups, it will be easy for your craft arguments using different groups of documents. This ensures you will make use of all documents and do not contradict yourself.
- Pay attention to the author’s perspective when analyzing documents. It is important to keep in mind that many sources are biased depending on the author and time period in which the piece was written. Don’t take everything you read at face value — instead, use the political and economic climate of the time to shape your view of the document. If you do this, you will be able to develop a complex argument that goes well beyond simply regurgitating the evidence presented to you.
- Use flashcards and other study techniques to identify trends. The AP European History exam is all about recognizing movements across different time periods. Try to identify a few common themes, and group events accordingly. If you can connect the dots among ostensibly disparate events, you will have an easy time drawing comparisons among historical events during the exam.
- Use specific examples and names, especially during the Long Essay question. The graders want to see that you recall particular significant events and people — there is no better way to demonstrate your aptitude than to name drop when appropriate. Mention the names of kings, important cities, and famous battles frequently enough to show that you have gone beyond simply studying broader themes and concepts.
How to Practice Time Management for AP European History?
In addition to the AP test time management tips provided above, you may find it helpful to consult this post, which outlines the ultimate list of tips for the AP European History exam. The post discusses the specific topics which will be covered on the exam, common types of questions and general strategies to help you solve them, along with a list of tips from AP European History teachers. And if you want to get some practice, check out these practice questions. The more you practice, the more familiarity you will build with different types of questions. Eventually, you will be able to identify which areas you are weaker in and can direct the bulk of your studying efforts to improving your understanding of those concepts.
Don’t forget to time yourself while you work on practice questions so you can test yourself on managing your time as well as reviewing concepts. Some multiple-choice questions are notorious for being significant time drains, which can cost you when answering the rest of Section I questions. If you find yourself stuck on a multiple-choice question for more than a couple of minutes, it may be in your best interest to cut your losses and utilize the process of elimination to guess the most likely answer. Don’t let one question you can’t solve prevent you from answering multiple questions you can.
Hopefully, these tips help with your AP test time management. Best of luck with your exam!
Let’s put everything into practice. Try this AP European History practice question:
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