College Board Ap World Essay Prompts

The exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long and has two sections — multiple choice/short answer and free-response. Each section is divided into two parts.

Section I Part A: Multiple Choice | 55 Questions | 55 minutes | 40% of Exam Score

  • Questions appear in sets of 2 to 5.
  • You will analyze historical texts, interpretations, and evidence.
  • Primary and secondary sources, images, graphs, and maps are included.


Section I Part B: Short Answer | 3 Questions | 40 minutes | 20% of Exam Score

  • Analyze historians’ interpretations, historical sources, and propositions about history.
  • Questions give you an opportunity to explain the historical examples you know best.
  • Some questions include texts, images, graphs, or maps.
  • You’ll have a choice between two options for the final required short answer question, each one focusing on a different time period.
    • Question 1 (required): periods 3-8
    • Question 2 (required): periods 3-8
    • Choose between Question 3, periods 1-3, and Question 4, periods 4-6


Section II Part A: Document Based | 1 Question | 60 minutes (includes a 15-minute reading period) | 25% of Exam Score

  • Assess written, quantitative, or visual materials as historical evidence.
  • Develop an argument supported by an analysis of historical evidence.
  • The document-based question will focus on topics from periods 3-6.


Section II Part B: Long Essay | 1 Question | 40 minutes | 15% of Exam Score

  • Explain and analyze significant issues in world history
  • Develop an argument supported by your analysis of historical evidence.
  • You’ll select from one of three essay choices, each focusing on the same theme and skill but different time periods:
    • Option 1: periods 1-2
    • Option 2: periods 3-4
    • Option 3: periods 5-6

Update, November 2017: The wording of the long essay question prompt has been refined to make the language clearer and more direct. The AP World History Course and Exam Description and Practice Exam have been updated to reflect this change.

Practice for the exam

For free-response questions from the 2017 exam, along with scoring information, check out the table below. Please note that these questions do not reflect the format of the 2018 exam. Similar resources for the 2018 exam will be available after the exam administration in May 2018.

Past exam questions from the May 2016 administrations and before are also available. Note that these questions do not reflect the content, scope, or design specifications of the revised AP World History Exam.

Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. In this invaluable resource, the Chief Reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the reading leadership to describe how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year.

Note: The scoring guidelines in this table were used to score the 2017 AP World History Exam. Updated rubrics for the 2017-18 school year are available above, under Updated Rubrics for 2018.

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