What Is the AP World History Exam Like?

If you’re planning on taking the AP World History Exam, it’s important to know what to expect. The exam covers a vast amount of information, so preparation is key. Here’s what you need to know about the exam format, content, and scoring.

Exam Format

The AP World History Exam is divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response. The multiple-choice section consists of 55 questions that must be answered in 55 minutes. The free-response section consists of three essay questions that must be answered in 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Multiple-Choice Section

The multiple-choice section tests your knowledge of world history from the foundations of civilization to the present day. You’ll be asked about political, economic, social, and cultural developments from around the world.

Each question provides four answer choices, with only one correct answer. There is no penalty for guessing, so it’s important to answer every question.

Free-Response Section

The free-response section tests your ability to analyze historical documents and write essays based on your knowledge of world history. You’ll be presented with two document-based questions (DBQ) and one long essay question (LEQ).

In the DBQs, you’ll be given a set of primary source documents and asked to analyze them in relation to a prompt. In the LEQ, you’ll be asked to write an essay responding to a specific prompt using evidence from your knowledge of world history.

Exam Content

The AP World History Exam covers six major periods in world history:

  • Ancient Period (8000 BCE – 600 BCE)
  • Classical Period (600 BCE – 600 CE)
  • Post-Classical Period (600 CE – 1450 CE)
  • Early Modern Period (1450 CE – 1750 CE)
  • Modern Period (1750 CE – 1900 CE)
  • Contemporary Period (1900 CE – present)

Within each period, you’ll be tested on a variety of topics, including:

  • Political systems and governance
  • Economic systems and trade
  • Social structures and hierarchies
  • Religion and belief systems
  • Cultural developments and interactions
  • Technological innovations and their impacts


The AP World History Exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5. A score of 3 or higher is considered passing, while a score of 4 or 5 is considered strong.

The multiple-choice section accounts for 40% of your total score, while the free-response section accounts for the remaining 60%. Each essay question is worth a maximum of six points, with the DBQs also including an additional point for using outside evidence.


The AP World History Exam is a challenging but rewarding test that covers a wide range of world history topics. By understanding the exam format, content, and scoring, you can better prepare yourself for success on test day. Remember to practice analyzing historical documents and writing essays based on your knowledge of world history to ensure success.