If you want to do well on the AP US History test, 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
This section lists all the free official practice tests available online for AP US History. All of 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 year, but I’d save the full exams for the final stages of your study process.
The closer you get to the exam, the more important it is 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.
This is a practice exam released by the College Board that 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 the real exam and want to get an accurate estimate of your score level.
One caveat: there's no answer key for the free-response questions, so you might have a tough time scoring them. Refer to the College Board's general scoring guidelines to get an idea of how you did or ask your teacher if he or she would be willing to grade your essays.
The free-response questions for the three AP history exams have undergone some minor changes, but these sample questions will still closely resemble the format of the free-response section of the test that you're taking. Again, I would encourage you to save the most up-to-date questions for later in the study process so that you can get a better idea of what your scores will look like on the real test.
This document includes a bunch of DBQs from past versions of the AP 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
These 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 practice 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.
Even though I'm emphasizing online practice materials in this article, it's also worth mentioning that some prep books include high-quality practice tests that are modeled directly after the current 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 practice exam is in the most up to date format, so it’s one of the highest quality free unofficial practice resources you’ll find online. It includes multiple-choice and free-response sections with answer keys for both types of questions.
These are unofficial practice exams originally created by the W.H. Freeman publishing company. They each have 80 multiple-choice questions, a document-based question, and two free-response questions. There is some critical reading of historical texts required in the multiple-choice sections of these tests, so they're decent prep materials for your skills in both factual recall and deeper analysis.
This is a different old-format practice test created by an AP teacher. It has the same number of questions and includes similar content to that of the two tests in the previous section.
Here, you’ll find practice quizzes for every topic covered in the 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 quiz, but the questions are all similar to the ones you’ll see on the real test (you're asked to reference source materials to come up with your answers). It’s worthwhile to go through it and see how you do!
This is a series of quizzes on every topic covered in the curriculum. As you take them, the site will display stats detailing how you fare on questions of each difficulty level. This should help you figure out the areas where your memory is shakier.
You can sign up for free for this service and enroll in the AP US History course. There are lots of practice questions and video lessons that may be helpful in your studying!
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 site also includes a list of frequently-asked AP US History multiple-choice questions that will prepare you better for the exam.
This website contains 32 multiple-choice quizzes, one for each chapter 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 textbook. Each quiz is titled so you know what part of US History it's testing you on.
More Resources for Short Practice Quizzes on All Topics
These are a few additional sites that have a bunch of short practice quizzes on every topic in the curriculum. If you're looking for additional questions that will test your basic knowledge of events in US History (or are looking for more questions dealing with a specific time period), you can refer to these resources.
- 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
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 practice exams during each semester of the class.
At this point, you can mostly rely on unofficial tests and quizzes that only deal with the topics that your class has already covered. Many of the sites listed above have large collections of questions for each unit of the course. Work on building a strong foundation of knowledge so that you’re prepared to answer more advanced analytical questions in the future.
You can also look through the official free-response questions to find some that 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 document-based questions. Writing a coherent and 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 test rolls around.
You can start taking full AP US History practice tests and assessing your AP 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 practice tests to be fairly accurate predictions of your final AP test scores.
Since the US History test changed in 2015, 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 taking additional tests.
Take and score an initial practice test (with accurate time constraints!) before you do any studying. As you take the test, mark any questions you're unsure about; you’ll want to study that material later even if you end up guessing correctly. After you score the test, categorize your mistakes by historical period and theme to see if you can find any patterns.
Then, start studying the areas that need work. You can turn to unofficial practice questions during the study process 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 the subjects that stumped you on the first test, you can take another full 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 the format as well as the content.
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*
Essential AP US History Practice Testing Tips
Tip #1: Read Excerpts Carefully, and Look for Direct Evidence
The multiple-choice section is based on excerpts from historical source materials, so it tests both analytical skills and factual recall. You have to read the source materially carefully to find the correct answer. In many cases, several answer choices are historically accurate, but only one is 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.
Tip #2: Plan Out Your Essays
When you have to write an essay on a timed test, it can sometimes end up an unfocused, disorganized mess. This is exactly what you don’t want 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. Without an outline, you risk rambling, going on irrelevant tangents, or getting stuck when you can’t figure out a good piece of supporting evidence! It will be much easier to write the essay if you already have a structure in place that makes sense.
Tip #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 come up with a strategy for approaching these questions that works for you before you’re face-to-face with the DBQ on the real AP test.
Tip #4: Incorporate Background Information (Wisely)
Include outside historical references that support your arguments in the DBQ or long essay questions. 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.
The practice tests in this article should serve as helpful resources for you in preparation for the AP exam and any in-class assessments. Remember, official College Board questions are the highest quality practice materials, so use them wisely. Try to save most of the official practice resources for when you're closer to the AP test. You can use unofficial materials throughout the year to brush up on your memory of specific topics in the course.
To recap, the overall study tips I recommend for AP US History are:
- Tip #1: Read Excerpts Carefully, and Look for Direct Evidence
- Tip #2: Practice Planning Out Your Essays
- Tip #3: Get Comfortable with the Document-Based Question
- Tip #4: Use Background Information, but Don't Overuse 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? This article has links to great notes for AP US History that will give you tons of information on every topic in the course.
How do you know whether your practice test results are equivalent to a high or low AP score? Learn more about how AP tests are scored.
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 II.
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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.