If you want to do well on the AP US History exam, you have to practice! Practice tests can help you organize your prep logically around areas of the curriculum that are most challenging for you. This article provides a complete list of all official and unofficial AP US History practice test materials available online, as well as detailed instructions and tips on how to use them in your studying.
Official AP US History Practice Exams and Questions
This section lists all the free official practice tests and questions available online for AP US History. These practice tests and free-response questions come directly from the College Board. You can use the free-response questions to practice writing essays at any point during the school year, but I'd save the full exams for the final stages of your study process.
The closer you get to the AP US History exam, the more important it'll be to understand exactly where your weaknesses lie and which aspects of the test present the most significant challenges. Official materials provide the best practice because the questions are a consistently accurate representation of the content and format of the real test.
Full-Length AP US History Practice Exams
There are three full, official AP US History practice tests available for download:
Though all practice tests come with answer keys for the multiple-choice part, you'll have to use the official scoring guidelines to score your own free-response answers. You could also ask your AP US History teacher if they'd be willing to grade your practice essays for you.
The 2017 practice test mostly aligns with the format and content of the latest version of the test. This test is the best free practice exam available online, so try to save it for when you're closer to test day and want to get an accurate estimate of your score level.
The 2015 practice test, though useful, does not fully align with the current format of the AP US History test (which was most recently changed in 2019-20). To make this particular resource more like what you'll see on test day, here's what you'll need to do:
- Answer all multiple-choice questions within the designated time limit (this hasn't changed)
- Answer three of the four short-answer questions in 40 minutes (no need to do all four)
- Give yourself five extra minutes (so 45 instead of 40) to write your DBQ response
- Give yourself five extra minutes (so 40 instead of 35) to write one Long Essay
As for the 2008 practice test, this one is the most different from the current exam format. As such, I recommend just using it for extra practice questions or without timing yourself.
Free-response questions for AP US History have undergone some minor changes in recent years, but these sample questions will still closely resemble the format of the free-response section of the test that you're taking. You'll also find scoring guidelines here and some sample student responses.
Again, I encourage you to save the most up-to-date questions for later on in the study process so that you can get a better idea of what your scores will look like on the real AP test.
AP US History Course and Exam Descriptions
Official AP US History Course and Exam Descriptions offer plenty of multiple-choice questions and free-response questions—just not in the format of a full-length test. You can get some great practice with these materials, especially if you're looking to zero in on specific weaknesses.
Here are the APUSH Exam Descriptions that are currently available online:
- 2019-20 Course and Exam Description: Updated for current AP exam format. Contains 17 multiple-choice questions, one short-answer question, one DBQ, and one Long Essay prompt.
- 2017-18 Course and Exam Description: Mostly updated for current exam format. Contains the exact same questions as those in the 2017 practice test linked above.
- 2015-16 Course and Exam Description: Not updated for current exam format. Contains 19 multiple-choice questions, four short-answer questions, one DBQ, and two Long Essay prompts.
There is also this document with sample questions from the 2012 AP US History curriculum framework. With this, you'll get 11 multiple-choice questions, three short-answer questions, one DBQ, and two Long Essay prompts.
This new and innovative tool by the College Board allows you to complete and submit homework for your AP US History class online through a special portal managed by your US History teacher. What's really cool, though, is that your teacher can also assign you official practice questions here as a way to supplement your exam prep.
This document includes a bunch of DBQs from past versions of the AP US History test. This question has remained relatively consistent throughout the years, so I'd say these are totally fine to use as practice materials.
You never know exactly what the documents will look like on the test, so you should practice analyzing them until you feel comfortable with all different types of sources.
Unofficial AP US History Practice Tests and Questions
The following AP US History tests are not directly from the College Board, but they will still help you become familiar with the material. This section includes links to both full unofficial practice tests and small-scale, topic-specific quizzes. The short quizzes may be useful in the early stages of your studying when you want to target certain eras or avoid questions on material your class hasn't covered yet.
AP US History Prep Books
Even though I'm emphasizing online practice materials in this article, it's also worth mentioning that some APUSH prep books include high-quality practice tests that are modeled directly after the newest version of the exam. If you're willing to part with some of that sweet cash money, check out our list of the best review books for AP US History.
This old-format AP US History practice test was created by an AP teacher. It's got 80 multiple-choice questions, each with five answer choices (the current test format has 55 questions and four answer choices for each question, so you'll need to tweak this old exam a lot). It also has one DBQ and some essay prompts that are a little different from the current Long Essay requirement.
Here, you'll find practice quizzes for every topic covered in the US History course. There are multiple-choice questions and for some topics "short answer" questions (there's a drop-down menu of 12 answer choices). These won't help much with the more analytical elements of the test, but if you want to test your factual recall, they'll serve you well.
This is a short AP US History quiz, but the questions are all pretty similar to those you'll see on the real test (you're asked to reference source materials to come up with your answers). It's definitely worthwhile to go through this quiz and see how you do!
Albert maintains a series of free, high-quality practice quizzes on every topic covered by the AP US History curriculum (and all have been updated for the 2020 exam format and units). As you take them, the site will display stats that detail how you're faring on questions of each difficulty level. This should help you figure out the areas in which your memory is shakier.
This site has chapter-by-chapter practice quizzes organized around an old edition of The American Pageant textbook. Questions are multiple choice and true/false. Again, this is more helpful for factual recall than for analysis questions.
This test has just 40 questions, but the website also includes a list of frequently asked AP US History multiple-choice questions that will prepare you better for the exam.
This site contains 32 multiple-choice quizzes, one for each chapter of the 13th edition of the McGraw-Hill US History textbook. The quizzes follow the organization of the textbook, but they can still be useful even if your class uses a different book. Each quiz is titled so you can know what part of US History it's testing you on.
Additional Resources for Practice Quizzes on All US History Topics
These are a few additional sites that have a bunch of short practice quizzes on every topic in the APUSH curriculum. Use these resources if you're looking for additional questions that will test your basic knowledge of events in US History, or if you're looking for more questions dealing with a specific time period.
- Pearson Brief Review in US History and Government: Quizzes
- CourseNotes Practice Quizzes for AP US History
- Varsity Tutors AP US History Practice Quizzes
- Matching and Multiple-Choice Short Practice Quizzes
Look at you! You're practically drowning in a sea of free practice questions!
How to Use AP US History Practice Exams in Each Semester
Now, you have all sorts of AP US History practice resources—but what's the best way to use them? In this section, we go over exactly how you should be studying with AP practice exams during each semester of the APUSH class.
At this point, you can mostly rely on unofficial AP US History tests and quizzes that only deal with the topics your class has covered. Many of the websites listed above have large collections of questions for each unit of the course. Work on building a strong foundation of knowledge so that you'll be prepared to answer more advanced analytical questions in the future.
You can also look through the official free-response practice questions to find some you feel confident answering based on what you've learned so far. It's never too early to start practicing for the free-response section, especially when it comes to the Document-Based Question, or DBQ.
Writing a coherent argumentative essay that incorporates six or seven different sources in just 50 minutes is a tough skill to master! Try to come up with an essay-writing process that works well for you so that you're a pro by the time the AP test rolls around.
Start taking full AP US History practice tests and assessing your score level midway through the second semester (March is a good time to get the ball rolling on this). By then, you've learned enough of the material for your scores on APUSH practice tests to be fairly accurate predictions of your final AP exam scores.
Since the US History test has undergone various changes in recent years, you won't have many full official practice tests that reflect the current format. Use your limited resources wisely by carefully assessing your performance on each practice test and studying your weak areas before you take additional tests.
We recommend taking and scoring an initial APUSH practice test (with accurate time constraints!) before you do any studying. As you take the test, mark any questions you're unsure about; you will want to study that material later even if you end up guessing correctly. After you score your test, categorize your mistakes by time period and theme to see whether there are any patterns.
Next, start studying the areas that need work. You can turn to unofficial AP US History practice questions here to test your knowledge. You should also practice writing essay outlines so you're more prepared for the free-response section. Once you feel that you've mastered all the AP topics that stumped you on the first test, take another practice test to see whether you've improved.
Decide whether or not you want to repeat this process based on your score on the second test. If you haven't improved much, you should reconsider your prep methods. Spend a longer time checking in with yourself to make sure you've retained information. You can also plan on doing more practice questions between full tests so that you're prepared for both the format and the content tested.
Fill in any little holes in your memory. You never know if they'll come back to haunt you on the AP test. *spooky musical interlude*
AP US History Practice: 4 Essential Testing Tips
Before we wrap up, here are four critical test-day tips to remember on the day of your US History exam.
#1: Read Excerpts Carefully and Look for Direct Evidence
The multiple-choice section on AP US History is based on excerpts from historical source materials, or stimuli, so it tests both analytical skills and factual recall. You'll have to read the source material carefully to find the correct answer.
In many cases, several answer choices are historically accurate, but only one will be directly supported by the evidence in the excerpt or illustration. Look for direct connections, and don't make too many assumptions based on your prior knowledge.
#2: Plan Out Your Essays
When you have to write a timed essay, it can sometimes end up an unfocused, disorganized mess. This is exactly what you don't want to happen on the AP US History exam. Hold yourself back from starting the writing process immediately, even if you're anxious about not finishing in time.
Writing a preliminary outline is critical on this test. Without an outline, you run the risk of rambling and getting stuck when you can't identify a good piece of supporting evidence! It'll be far easier to write your essays if you already have a structure in place that makes sense.
#3: Get Comfy With the Document-Based Question
The Document-Based Question is different from other essay questions that you'll encounter on AP tests. In fact, it's probably the only question of its kind that you've ever seen on any test. DBQs can seem intimidating and weird, so make sure you practice them as much as possible before the real exam.
Write notes next to each piece of source material to give yourself a basic idea of what it is and how it could be used to support the points you plan on making in your essay. You should also come up with a strategy for approaching these questions that works well for you before you're face-to-face with the DBQ on test day.
#4: Incorporate Background Information (Wisely)
It's a great move to include outside historical references that support your arguments for the DBQ and/or Long Essay. Even though you're given seven sources to use as evidence in the DBQ, making additional outside connections will show that you've really mastered the material.
Just remember to be careful with using outside information. Don't fact-vomit all over the essay with everything you've ever learned about a topic. Structure your thoughts so that any outside information relates directly to the main argument of your essay.
Always build sturdy conceptual bridges between tidbits of outside knowledge and the main argument of your essay.
Recap: Using AP US History Practice Tests to Ace the Exam
The AP US History practice tests in this article should serve as useful resources for you as you prep for the AP exam and any in-class assessments. Remember that official College Board questions are the highest quality practice materials, so use them wisely. We recommend trying to save most of the official practice resources for when you're closer to the actual APUSH test. You can use unofficial materials throughout the school year to brush up on specific topics in the course.
To recap, here are our four top study tips for AP US History:
- Read excerpts carefully and look for direct evidence in the source(s)
- Practice planning out and outlining your essays for free-response questions
- Get comfortable with the Document-Based Question
- Use background information without overusing it
With these tips in mind, you can take full advantage of the practice materials, become a master of US History, and show the AP test who's boss!
Are you missing some of your notes from class? We've got links to great notes for AP US History that will give you tons of information on every topic in the course.
How can you know whether your AP US History practice test results are equivalent to a high or low AP score? Learn more about how AP tests are scored in our guide.
Think you might take the SAT Subject Test for US History in addition to the AP test? Check out our complete study guide for the US History SAT Subject Test.
Want to improve your SAT score by 160 points or your ACT score by 4 points? We've written a guide for each test about the top 5 strategies you must be using to have a shot at improving your score. Download it for free now:
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.