The best AP European history study guide (2023)

The best AP European history study guide (1)

Do you take AP European History? If so, you know that the big AP exam is in May. Doing well on this exam is a huge boost to your college applications and may even earn you college credit. So how can you make sure you get the score you want? That's where we come in!This AP guide to European history has everything you need for your AP Euro review.Read on to find out what the AP Euro exam will look like (including sample questions), what topics the exam will cover, how to create a personalized study plan, and tips to follow to get your best score.

What is the format of the AP European History exam?

Before we discuss how to develop your AP European History Study Guide, let's familiarize ourselves with the exam. The AP Euro test is three hours and 15 minutes long and consists of two sections, each divided into Part A and Part B. Section 1 counts for 60% of your exam score and Section 2 counts for 40%. .


question type

number of questions


% score


multiple choice


55 minutes



Short answer

3 (for the third, choose 1 of 2 prompts)

40 minutes



Document Based Question (DBQ)


60 min (incl. 15 min reading time)



long essay

1 (choose 1 of 3 prompts)

40 minutes


Section 1 consists of a 55-question multiple-choice section, which accounts for 40% of your overall grade, and a three-question short-answer section, which accounts for 20% of your grade. In total, part 1 lasts 95 minutes.

Section 2, on the other hand, consists of a document-based question that requires you to piece together historical documents into a coherent analysis of a historical moment, and a longer essay that requires you to write an essay that analyzes a historical moment without external factors. . sources at your disposal.

The DBQ represents 25% of the final grade and the long essay represents 15%.You will be given 100 minutes for Section 2, including a 15 minute reading phase. There are suggested times for each trial, but no one is going to force you to continue with the long trial (or do the DBQ first) after 60 minutes. You have the full 100 minutes to use on both essays as you see fit.

It should be noted that the test wasLast revised in 2018 and slightly modified again in 2020.However, the recent revision is minimal: accthe university council, there aren't many changes other than the fact that "short answer questions are now more aligned with course skills."

These revisions mean there aren't as many up-to-date practice resources available through the College Board, as previously released exams have slightly different formats. That doesn't mean you can't use them, just be aware of these differences.

What will the AP European History exam test you on?

The AP European History course hasnine units:

  • Unit 1: Renaissance and exploration (1450-1648)
  • Unit 2: Era of the Reformation (1450-1648)
  • Unit 3: Absolutism and Constitutionalism (1648-1815)
  • Unit 4: Scientific, philosophical and political developments (1648-1815)
  • Unit 5: Conflict, crisis and response at the end of the 18th century (1648-1815)
  • Unit 6: Industrialization and its Effects (1815-1914)
  • Unit 7: 19th century perspectives and political developments (1815-1914)
  • Unit 8: Global Conflicts of the 20th Century (since 1914)
  • Unit 9: Cold War and Contemporary Europe (since 1914)

Each unit will represent about 10-15% of the questions on the AP Euro exam.

The test questions are not organized by unit, so you will be jumping between time periods and topics throughout the test. Would you like to see what the exam questions will be like? Of course you are! Below you will find explanations and sample questions for each of the four main sections of the AP Euro exam.

Parte 1A

for this sectionYou are shown primary and secondary historical sources and asked to answer three to four relevant questions for each source.The 55 questions are essentially divided into a series of mini-quizzes. Each question has four possible answers.

Note that the presentation of sources in the text is related to the AP test's focus on historical evidence and the actual work of historians in evaluating and analyzing evidence.

(Video) How to Study for AP European History: 11 Must Know Study Tips for 2022 | Albert

There are two basic types of multiple-choice questions: source analysis questions and foreign knowledge questions.Source analysis questions ask you to analyze the historical source presented in some way. You may be asked to relate the events described in the given source to a larger historical movement, to compare them with other sources, to determine whether they support or oppose a particular historical trend, etc. Other Knowledge questions have little to do with the source and require you to have Other Knowledge to answer them.This is an example of an external knowledge question:

The best AP European history study guide (2)

Parte 1B

The short answer section consists of three questions and is 40 minutes long, giving you approximately 13 minutes per question.You will be asked to provide a total of three details (marked A-C).For example, you may be asked to provide two facts for a historical thesis and one fact against it.

You get different types of prompts or sources for each question, as well as different topics. What to expect on test day:

question with a short answer



Question 1

secondary sources)

Historical developments or processes between the years 1600 and 2001

Question 2

main source

Historical developments or processes between the years 1600 and 2001

Question 3(choose one)

no stimulus

Historical developments or processes between the years 1450 and 1815

question 4(choose one)

no stimulus

Historical developments or processes between the years 1815 and 2001

There is usually an element of choice in these questions.For example, you may need to give one of the many reasons why something happened, or two consequences of a particular event, butnoname specific events.

Here's an example for question 2 along with the main source:

The best AP European history study guide (3)

Part 2A

About himDBQ,You will be given seven documents consisting of primary and secondary sources and will be asked to write an essay analyzing a historical issue.This is designed to put you in the role of a historian interpreting historical material and then conveying your interpretation in an essay. You needcombine material from the sources with your own outside knowledge.

Here is an example of an AP Euro DBQ (documents not shown):

The best AP European history study guide (4)

Part 2B

The long essay asks you a broad topical question about a specific historical period. You must create an analytical essay with a thesis that you can defend using specific historical evidence that you learned in class.

You can choose between three indications for this test,each based on a different historical period:

  • Option 1: 1450-1700
  • Option 2: 1648-1914
  • Option 3: 1815-2001

Below is an example of a long essay question for the AP Euro exam:

The best AP European history study guide (5)

(Video) AP European History | How I got a 5 | My Tips

AP European History Study Help: 5 Steps to Take

Now that you know what to expect on the exam, you can design your AP European History Study Guide. In this section, we have outlined five steps you should take when studying to prepare for the AP European History exam.. In total, the steps last at least 11.5 hours,However, you can spend more time on each step if necessary. You can also repeat the entire process if you get to step 5 but still want to prepare more during your AP Euro review.

Step 1: Take a full practice test

Time:3 hours 15 minutes

The first step isTake a comprehensive, official AP US History practice exam under realistic conditions.You can check out the best AP study resources for European history here. (coming soon!) Be sure to take your time with each section. Don't take more time than you get for the actual AP exam! Check all the multiple choice questions you had to guess; You will review these questions in the next step.

When you're done, score your practice test to see how well you'd do on the actual AP exam if you took it now.

Depending on how much you hope to improve your score, you may need to allow more or less study time to earn your AP Euro exam score. yes you already areScore almost 5(or a low 5), you can do these steps once and be satisfied with the results. However, if you get 2 or more AP points less than you want, you need to go through this process multiple times.

Step 2: Check your mistakes and guesses

Time:1 hour

After you've scored your AP European History Practice exam, review each wrong answer and lucky guess.Try to categorize the errors by content area so that you can look for patterns.and determine which parts of the course you need to learn more. For example, you might do very well with source analysis questions, but struggle with outside knowledge questions. If that's the case, you know you need to develop your outside knowledge of European history if you want to increase your score.

Once you've identified what you need to learn as part of your AP Euro study guide, move on to review the actual content. List, in descending order, the topics that correspond to the most multiple-choice questions missed and points missed for short-answer and free-answer questions.

Step 3 – Build Your Weak Points

Time:2 hours+

Use the list you created in the previous step to guide your review of AP European History content.Start with the areas that need a little brushing up and work your way up to the bigger problems you had on the diagnostic test.

When you're satisfied that you've filled in the gaps in the content that led to your mistakes, you should answer a few AP Euro multiple-choice practice questions to make sure you really know what you're doing.

Step 4: Practice writing essays

Time:2 hours+

Then comes the rehearsal practice. You want to feel comfortable with AP Euro accessories well in advance of the exam. This is especially true when it comes to theDocument-based question, which has a unique format.

After examining the problems with your original diagnostic test essays, keep practicing your skillsadditional free answer questions. To save time, you don't necessarily have to write entire essays, but you should at least prepare outlines that contain all the components of a successful essay. However, if you have a lot of trouble with timing on your first AP practice test, we recommend completing another timed free-response section so you can practice moving faster.

(Video) AP Euro Unit 1 REVIEW (Everything You NEED to Know)

Step 5: Take a second full practice test

Time:3 hours and 15 minutes

Once you are familiar with the material,This is the part of your AP Euro review where you take a second full AP practice test to assess your progress.If you find that you have improved to a satisfactory level, you can stop there and do only a light revision until the exam. If you're still not satisfied with your results, repeat this process, paying particular attention to where you're still making mistakes. An AP prep book or tutor can often help you if you're still having trouble understanding some of the material or how to approach open-ended questions.

The best AP European history study guide (6)

Tips for preparing for the AP European History exam

You're almost ready to start your AP Euro exam now, but first, here are three tips to help make your AP Euro exam as effective as possible.

Tip 1: Understand the historical evidence

One of the most important skills you can develop for the AP Euro exam is understanding historical evidence. When looking at primary and secondary sources on the AP exam, you need to think about who is writing, why they are writing, who their audience is, and in what historical (or current) context they are writing.Ask yourself what this source of evidence is. Does it refer to facts, opinions or interpretations?

For more guidance on working with primary and secondary sources, seethis online lesson from a college history professor.

Tip 2: Practice the DBQ

Because the DBQ is a bit unusual compared to the typical AP essay, you need to make sure you understand how to plan and write one. Work not only on your ability to understand historical evidence, but also on your ability to piece together disparate historical evidence into a coherent interpretation or argument about a historical issue.

Also, you must make a connection to another time period, movement, or discipline! Use the rubric as a guide to improve your DBQ skills. You can also look at oursGuide to writing a great DBQ essay.

Tip 3: Balance Learning Details and Big Topics

When reviewing historical content, be sure to balance breadth and depth. You definitely need to understand the great movements and historical moments in European history, butYou should also know specific facts and events about each maximize your chances of success on the short answer and free response sections of the exam.

Of course, you won't be able to memorize all the dates and names of people mentioned in class for AP exam purposes, but try to make sure you have at least some facts that you can use as specific evidence in an essay about one of the historical events. most important treated in the course.

Whats Next?

Taking practice tests is an important step in preparing well for the AP Euro exam.Find out what the best AP Euro practice tests areby reading our AP Euro study resource guide. (soon)

Is it difficult AP Euro?How does it compare to other AP exams in terms of how well students do and how much they have to study? Our Is AP Euro Hard article ranks the difficulty of this course using various metrics to give you a full understanding of what you're getting into. (soon)

Learning is key to any AP exam, but when should you start?Keep reading our guidewhen to start studying for AP examsso that you are well prepared on the day of the exam.

Looking for help studying for your AP exam?

Our one-on-one online AP tutoring services can help you prepare for your AP exams. Connect with a top tutor who has scored high on the exam you are studying for!

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(Video) How to Get a 5: Best AP European History Review Books
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Cristina Sarikas

About the Author

Christine graduated from Michigan State University with degrees in Environmental Biology and Geography and received her Master's from Duke University. In high school, she scored in the 99th percentile on the SAT and was named a National Merit Finalist. She has taught English and biology in several countries.

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