AP Exam Survival Guide: 4 Tips on Surviving AP World History


AP World History is an intensive course that covers everything from the times of pre-human civilization to modern world events. Since the range is so broad, this means that there is a lot of content to be covered and when I say a lot, I mean a lot! With this AP Survival Guide for AP World History, you will learn about the exam, study tips, and some resources for learning all about the course.

AP World History Tip #1: The Course

The AP World History course covers world history from 8000 BCE to the present from every part of the world. It covers six historical periods, meaning six time period intervals with five themes of world history:

  1. the interaction between humans and the environment
  2. development and interaction of cultures
  3. state building, expansion, and conflict
  4. creation and expansion
  5. the interaction of economic systems
  6. the development and transformation of social structures.

AP World History Tip #2: The Exam

The exam was recently re-designed for the 2016-2017 school year as the test follows a similar format to that of AP United States History. The AP World History exam now consists of a multiple choice section and a re-designed free response section. The multiple choice section has 55 question done in 55 minutes and is 40% of the exam score. The questions on the multiple choice section appear in sections of two to five questions in response to a primary or secondary source in world history. Students are asked to analyze the source in order to answer the questions. The newly designed free response section now consists of four short answer questions, a document-based question, and a long essay question.

The short answer questions are intended to be a way for the graders to see the knowledge of historical examples. The document-based question (DBQ) uses several documents in which students are asked to analyze the documents and then write a cohesive essay to answer the prompt. Finally, the long essay question is similar to the DBQ except there are no documents provided and there is a required historical skill that is needed to be used in the essay.

These skills include Periodization, Change and Continuity Over Time (CCOT), Comparison, and Causation. This part of the exam accounts for the other 60% of the exam score.


AP World History Tip #3: Practice Materials and Free Resources

There are many practice materials available to study for the AP World History exam. Many companies like Barron’s and Princeton Review release new study books each year for students to purchase. These study books consist of content review and practice AP exams which are very helpful when reviewing.

YouTube also has a plethora of videos in regards to AP World History review, just type in “AP World History” and hundreds of videos will pop up! One very helpful channel is Crash Course.

If you are looking for free resources, they can be found on the College Board website where there are previous years’ free response questions and scoring guidelines. Teacher Oz also provides a free resource that has many tools to help you with exam review. (All will be linked at the end of the article).

AP World History Tip #4: Study Tips

After taking many AP classes and exams, one of the biggest study tips I have is making outlines. For World History, this can be divided in a couple different ways.

You could make outlines within the six different time periods that the course has, or you could do them by the chapter of your respective history textbook. Either way will help you review the content of the course as well as organize the content into the themes and periods.

Another study tip would be to make or purchase flashcards with important figures and events that are in World History to create an easy and convenient to study. For other study tips for AP Exams, check out:3 Ways to Start Preparing for AP ExamsAP World History previous exam questions TeacherOz