5 Steps to a 5: AP European History 2024 - Bartolini-Salimbeni B., Petersen W., Arata K. 2023

STEP 1 Set Up Your Study Program
1 What You Need to Know About the AP European History Exam


Summary: The AP European History program allows students who score well on the AP exam to earn college credits while still in high school. This chapter describes the AP European History program and exam and answers frequently asked questions, including what’s on the exam and how it is scored.


Key Ideas:

Image The exam consists of multiple-choice questions, short-answer questions, a document-based question (DBQ), and a longer essay question.

Image The exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5; most schools will give you college credit for a score of 4 or 5, and some will give credit for a 3.

Background Information

The Advanced Placement (AP) Program is overseen by an organization known as the College Board, which is involved in many facets of the college admissions process. The program offers highly motivated high school students the opportunity to take college-level courses while still in high school and the opportunity to earn credit or advanced standing at a college or university by taking the Advanced Placement exams.

Frequently Asked Questions About the AP European History Exam

Why Take the AP European History Exam?

Most students take the exam with the hope of earning college credit. Most schools will give you college credit for a score of 4 or 5, and some will give credit for a 3. However, the policies of individual colleges and universities vary, so you should check with the schools you are interested in attending for their specific policies. The College Board maintains a website that gives you information about all universities’ credit policies for all exams: https://apstudent.collegeboard.org/creditandplacement.

One advantage of having college credit in European history is that you are one class closer to graduation; but there are a couple of other good reasons to take the exam:

• First, getting college credit for AP European history means that you will be able to opt out of either a required introductory course in European history or an elective course. Either way, you will have greater flexibility in choosing your courses, and you will be able to move on to the more advanced and specific courses (either in history or in some other field) that interest you. Often, arriving at college with credits in your back pocket makes it possible for you to take courses more pertinent to your major, to complete a double major, or to take time to study abroad without worrying about losing credit hours.

• Second, having AP credit on your transcript can increase your chances of getting into the school you want because it tells college admissions officers that you are a serious student who has some experience with college-level work. The director of admissions at a select university put it this way: No matter the score on the AP exam, a student’s having taken the exam, and measuring himself/herself against national guidelines, speaks well of him or her.

Do I Have to Take an AP European History Class to Take the Exam?

No. Taking an AP European History class at your high school is a great way to prepare for the exam, but it is not required. The College Board simply urges students to study the kinds of skills and subjects outlined in the AP European History Course Description. The Course Description is available online from the College Board (www.collegeboard.org). The McGraw Hill five-step program is based on both the College Board Course Description for AP European History and on the Exam Guidelines, so working through this guide will help you to develop the relevant skills and to familiarize yourself with the relevant subject material.

Who Writes and Grades the AP European History Exam?

The exam is written by a team of college and high school history instructors called the AP European History Test Development Committee. The Committee is constantly evaluating the test and field-testing potential questions. The exam is graded by a much larger group of college and high school teachers who meet at a central location in early June to evaluate and score exams that were completed by students the previous month.

What Is on the Exam?


Beginning in May 2016, the AP European History Exam adopted a new format. The new format of the AP European History exam is shown in Table 1.1.

Table 1.1 AP European History Exam Format as of May 2016


Each section of the exam has a set of objectives that fit into the overall scheme of the exam. We will discuss strategies for doing well on the multiple-choice section in Chapter 5, the short-answer questions in Chapter 6, the document-based question (DBQ) in Chapter 7, and the long-essay question in Chapter 8.

How Is the Exam Evaluated and Scored?


The multiple-choice section is scored by computer. The other sections are all scored by “readers” (the college and high school teachers who are hired to do the job), who have been trained to score the responses in accordance with a set of guidelines. The scoring guidelines for each question are drawn up by a team of the most experienced readers. (We will discuss what kinds of things the guidelines tell the readers to look for in Chapters 6 through 8.) Evaluation and scoring are monitored by the Chief Reader, Question Leaders, and Table Leaders, and scoring is periodically analyzed for consistency.

The scores from all sections are combined into a composite score on the AP five-point scale:

• 5 is the highest possible grade; it indicates that you are extremely well qualified to receive college credit.

• 4 indicates that you are well qualified to receive college credit.

• 3 indicates that you are qualified to receive college credit.

• 2 indicates that you are possibly qualified to receive college credit.

• 1 indicates that you are not qualified to receive college credit.

How Do I Register?

Whether you are enrolled in a high school AP course or preparing for the exam on your own, the best thing to do is see your guidance counselor. He or she will direct you to the AP Coordinator for your school. You will need to contact the coordinator because it is this person who will arrange payment for the exam and also give you information about the exact location and date of the exam. If for some reason your school does not have an AP Coordinator, you can test through another school. To find out which schools in your area offer the exam and to find a coordinator, you can check the College Board’s website (www.collegeboard.org). You should visit the site, even if your school has an AP Coordinator, as it will always have the latest and most up-to-date information.

In 2022, it cost $96 to take the AP European History Exam. Students who demonstrate financial need may receive a credit or refund to help offset the cost of testing. Registration for the exams you wish to take now happens online, in the fall. See your AP Coordinator or high-school counselor for information specific to your state and school. There are also several optional fees that must be paid if you want your scores rushed to you or if you wish to receive multiple grade reports. Finally, ask your AP coordinator, counselor, or AP teacher for directions to register as an AP student with the College Board. This will give you access to supplementary materials and practice exams.

What Should I Bring to the AP Exam?


There are several things that are either required or a good idea to have with you at the exam. They include the following:

• A good supply of #2 pencils with erasers that don’t smudge (for the multiple-choice section)

• Several black- or blue-colored ink pens (for the other sections)

• A watch so that you can monitor your time. You never know if the exam room will have a clock, and you won’t have a cell phone or other electronic devices (be sure to turn any alarms or chimes off).

• Your photo ID and Social Security number

What Should I NOT Bring to the Exam?

There are a number of things that you are not allowed to use during the exam. Prohibited items you should not bring include the following:

• Reference books of any kind, including notebooks, dictionaries, and encyclopedias

• A laptop computer

• Electronic devices, like cell phones

• Portable music devices of any kind

• Mom, dad, and friends (there is no room for them, and you don’t need the distraction)