AP World History

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Advanced Placement World History (also known as AP World History, WHAP, AP World or APWH) is a college-level course and examination offered to high school students through the College Board's Advanced Placement Program designed to help students develop a greater understanding of the evolution of global processes and contacts as well as interactions between different types of human society. The course advances this understanding through a combination of selective factual knowledge and appropriate analytical skills. Students study all prehistory and history, especially from 8000 BC to the present day. The AP World History exam was first administered in 2002. The course has undergone multiple changes with the latest changes effective Fall 2017. Often times in the United States, students take the course in their sophomore year of high school, but this is not a requirement.

Topic Outline[edit]

Period 1: Technological and Environmental Transformations (10,000 BC to 600 BC) [5%][edit]

  • Key Concept 1.1 Big Geography and the Peopling of the Earth
  • Key Concept 1.2 The Neolithic Revolution and Early Agricultural Societies
  • Key Concept 1.3 The Development and Interactions of Early Agricultural, Pastoral, and Urban Societies

Period 2: Organization and Reorganization of Human Societies (600 BC to 600 CE) [15%][edit]

  • Key Concept 2.1 The Development and Codification of Religious and Cultural Traditions
  • Key Concept 2.2 The Development of States and Empires
  • Key Concept 2.3 Emergence of Trans-regional Networks of Communication and Exchange

Period 3: Regional and Inter-regional Interactions, (600 CE to 1450 CE) [20%][edit]

  • Key Concept 3.1 Expansion and Intensification of Communication and Exchange Networks
  • Key Concept 3.2 Continuity and Innovation of State Forms and Their Interactions
  • Key Concept 3.3 Increased Economic Productive Capacity and Its Consequences

Period 4: Global Interactions (1450 CE to 1750 CE) [20%][edit]

  • Key Concept 4.1 Globalizing Networks of Communication and Exchange
  • Key Concept 4.2 New Forms of Social Organization and Modes of Production
  • Key Concept 4.3 State Consolidation and Imperial Expansion

Period 5: Industrialization and Global Integration (1750 CE to 1900 CE) [20%][edit]

  • Key Concept 5.1 Industrialization and Global Capitalism
  • Key Concept 5.2 Imperialism and Nation-State Formation
  • Key Concept 5.3 Nationalism, Revolution, and Reform
  • Key Concept 5.4 Global Migration

Period 6: Accelerating Global Change and Realignments (1900 CE to the Present) [20%][edit]

  • Key Concept 6.1 Science and the Environment
  • Key Concept 6.2 Global Conflicts and their Consequences
  • Key Concept 6.3 New Conceptualizations of Global Economy, Society, & Culture

Test format[edit]

Section Number of Questions Time allotted Score Weight
Section I, Part A: Multiple Choice Questions 55 questions 55 minutes 40%
Section I, Part B: Short-Answer Questions 3 questions (2 required questions + 1 chosen from 2 others) 40 minutes 20%
Section II Part A: Document-Based Question 1 question recommended 60 minutes (includes 15-minute reading period) 25%
Section II, Part B: Long Essay Question 1 question recommended 40 minutes 15%

The first section of the AP World History exam consists of 55 multiple choice questions with a 55-minute time limit. The questions are not divided up evenly between the six periods.

The multiple choice section is weighted as 40% of one's total score (Section I Part A). It consists of 55 questions to be answered in 55 minutes based on the accompanying sources.

While previously the exam deducted 1/4 of a point for every incorrect answer, starting from 2011 on, the penalty for incorrect answers had been removed. It is to one's advantage to attempt every question possible within the time limit. Note also that the number of multiple choice options is being reduced from five to four at the same time.[1]

This test underwent a major re-haul for the 2017 exam, however, due to the prodigious number of students that struggled with the free response section, the College Board decided to initiate yet another round of sweeping reform, to be put in effect in May 2018. Currently it has the same format as Advanced Placement United States History and Advanced Placement European History. The exam features a new section (Section I Part B) that requires three short answer questions, one of which is selected from two options. Each question has three parts, making for a total of 9 parts within the SAQ section. Students have forty minutes to answer these, and they count for twenty percent of the exam score.

Section II lasts for a total of 100 minutes, and it includes a document-based question (DBQ) and a long essay question (LEQ). Students are allowed to work on either essay within this total time period. The section begins with a 15-minute reading period where students are advised to read both the documents for DBQ. However, students may begin writing during this time; most students take notes on the documents in order to plan out the DBQ. Students are advised to spend 45 minutes writing the DBQ and then 40 writing the LEQ, but there are no rules on when each essay must be worked on. There are three prompts for the LEQ, but only one needs to be chosen. Each LEQ prompt addresses a different period, with one addressing periods 1 & 2, another addressing periods 3 & 4, and a third addressing periods 5 & 6.

The DBQ counts for 25% of the total exam score, and the LEQ is 15%. The essays are out of seven points and six points, respectively. Students are required to analyze and synthesize the documents of the DBQ, but some outside information is still needed. The LEQ only provides a prompt and no sort of stimulus, so a large amount of outside information is necessary.

Grade distribution[edit]

AP World History Test Grade Distribution:[2]

Final Score 2017[3] 2018[4]
5 8.5% 8.7%
4 19.9% 19.8%
3 26.7% 27.7%
2 29.6% 28.7%
1 15.4% 15.1%
% of 3 or Higher 55%
Mean 2.76
Number of Students 298,475


  1. ^ "AP World History Course and Exam Description" (PDF). College Board. 
  2. ^ "AP Data". Retrieved 9 May 2016. 
  3. ^ "AP World History Global Score Distributions from the 2017 Exam" (PDF). www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved 2017-06-20. 
  4. ^ Registration, Total. "2018 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved 2018-06-22. 

External links[edit]