AP Art History

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Advanced Placement Art History (AP Art History, AP Art, or APAH) is an Advanced Placement Art History course and exam offered by the College Board in the United States. AP Art History is designed to allow students to examine major forms of artistic expression relevant to a variety of cultures evident in wide variety of periods from present times into the past. Students acquire an ability to examine works of art critically, with intelligence and sensitivity, and to articulate their thoughts and experiences. The main topic is European Art, with focuses on African, Hindu, South and East Asian, Islamic, and Prehistoric art. Starting in the 2015-2016 school year, College Board has introduced a new curriculum and exam for students to apply art historical skills to questions.[1][2]


The ETS's outline for the exam is as follows:[3]

Topic Percent
Ancient through Medieval
  • Greece and Rome: 10 - 15%
  • Early Christian, Byzantine, Early Medieval: 5 - 10%
  • Romanesque: 3 - 7%
  • Gothic: 7 - 10%
Renaissance to Present
  • Fourteenth through Sixteenth Centuries: 12 - 17%
  • Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: 10 - 15%
  • Nineteenth Century: 10 - 15%
  • Twentieth Century: 10 - 15%
Beyond European Tradition
  • Africa (including Egypt), the Americas, Asia, Near East, Oceania, and global Islamic tradition


The AP Art History exam, along with the curriculum was revised in the 2015-2016 school year. The AP Art History exam is divided into two sections: multiple choice, and free-response.

The multiple choice section includes 80 questions that must be answered in 1 hour. This section is 50% of the total score. There will be approximately 8 sets of 3-6 questions that are based on color images and approximately 35 individual multiple choice questions. The answers will only be based on the knowledge of the 250 required images, but questions may use attribution pieces.

The free-response section includes two 30-minute essay questions and six 15-minute essay questions that must be answered in a 2-hour time frame. This section is 50% of the total score. The 30-minute essay questions are worth 7 points. The 15-minute essay questions are worth 5 points. All the responses are written in an academic essay format. The essay questions often include images of works of art as stimuli. While the responses written are based on the knowledge of the 250 required images, attribution pieces may also be used in the question and optionally in student's answer.


The multiple choice section of the exam is worth 50% of a student's score and the free-response is worth 50%. Each correctly answered multiple choice question is worth one point. As of 2011, wrong and omitted questions do not affect the raw score.[4] For the free-response section, the four short essays are each is graded on a scale of 0 to 5 and the two long essays are each graded on a scale of 0 to 7.

While the criteria varies from year to year, receiving a "5" from the ETS usually entails earning around 70% of the total points on the test, or having a raw score of 140.

Grade distribution[edit]

AP Art History Test Grade Distribution:[5]

Final Score 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016[6] 2017[7]
5 12.1% 12.4% 11.9% 12.1% 10.1% 11.1% 11%
4 21.6% 22.4% 21.5% 20.4% 20.5% 22.6% 23.1%
3 26.5% 25.2% 27.5% 27.2% 27.1% 27.7% 27.3%
2 19.0% 18.7% 19.1% 18.7% 20.4% 27.6% 26.2%
1 20.8% 21.3% 20.0% 21.5% 21.9% 11.0% 12.4%
Mean Score 2.85 2.86 2.86 2.82 2.77 2.95
Number of Students 21,643 22,650 22,723 23,213 23,314 25,523


External links[edit]