AP® Human Geography Study Guide
AP® Human Geography (HUG) is an expansive course that explores the patterns and processes by which societies have interacted with the Earth’s surface over time. Preparing for the AP HUG exam is a year-long process, but it is easily doable when divided into small chunks. From the moment you sign up for your course until your exam day, this AP Human Geography study guide will help you with every step of your test preparation.
What We’ll Cover in This AP Human Geography Study Guide:
How to Use This Guide to Study for the AP Human Geography Exam
Consider this AP Human Geography study guide your go-to resource for exam preparation. It covers the exam format and provides practical strategies for multiple-choice (MCQ) and free-response (FRQ) questions. Additionally, you'll find a well-structured study plan and some helpful AP Human Geography exam tips. This guide will make your preparation process more effective and accessible, offering a balanced and user-friendly approach to help you succeed on exam day.
Know What’s Tested: AP Human Geography Unit Content
The following unit skills information comes directly from the College Board®’s AP Human Geography Course and Exam Description.1 This section only reviews general content bullet points, however–for a truly comprehensive idea of everything covered in the class and test, check out UWorld’s AP Human Geography Course and Exam Description page.
Note: Which units are the most difficult to learn or need greater focus due to their complexity?
Unit four (Political Patterns and Processes) builds on learning units two and three. To do well in unit four, you’ll need to be comfortable with the theories and concepts from the previous units. You will need to return to units two and three if you struggle in unit four.
Unit seven (Industrial and Economic Development) pulls together the ideas from the previous units to create a framework for studying the problems faced by less economically developed countries (LEDCs).
Become Familiar With the AP HUG Test Format
The AP Human Geography examination comprises two segments: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. The multiple-choice section contains 60 questions, while the free-response section contains 3.
|Number of Questions
|% of Exam Score
|Section 1: Multiple-Choice (MCQs)
|Section 2: Free-Response (FRQs)
|1 hour & 15 minutes
How to Approach Multiple-Choice Questions (MCQs)
When facing the AP Human Geography test's multiple-choice questions section, students should focus only on the question's topic and any relevant information. With limited time (one minute per question), strategies to answer challenging questions are necessary. Prioritize time management by addressing quicker questions first and circling back to tougher ones later. Remember, skipping a problematic question is better than sacrificing accuracy on the easier ones due to time constraints. The following strategies are a great way to help you navigate AP Human Geography multiple-choice questions.2
Process of elimination
- Focus on identifying incorrect answers rather than searching for the correct one. Cross out any options you know are wrong during the exam.
- Develop a habit of eliminating incorrect choices as you progress through the questions.
- If uncertain, scrutinize questions and answers for words that signal an incorrect choice.
- When you're uncertain of the answer to a question, take your best guess, circle the question for a potential revisit, and proceed to the next one.
- Once you've finished answering the other questions within that test section, come back to the questions you've marked and see if answering them is easier with a fresh set of eyes. If not, you can also try out the following strategy to help you move on quickly to the next question within the time constraints of the exam.
Letter of the day
- Choose a Letter of the Day (LOTD) before the exam begins.
- Opting for a single LOTD boosts your chances of correctly answering each question individually. It might sound perplexing initially, but if, for instance, you select 'B' for every answer you’re unsure of in a four-answer choice test, you still have a 25% chance of getting the answer right.
- At times, you might grasp the concept behind a question but struggle with the question itself.
- In this case, try translating the question from elaborate AP language into a style of phrasing that resonates with you.
- For instance, if the question reads, "Which of the following demographic indicators is most likely associated with—," you can rephrase it as, "Which of these signs is most likely in a country that's pretty—."
How to Approach Free-Response Questions (FRQs)
The AP Human Geography Free-Response Questions (FRQs) stand out from history exams, as they don't involve essay writing. Instead, each of the three FRQs comprises seven equally weighted, independently scored prompts. Addressing all 21 questions demands concise responses, often achievable in a single sentence. These FRQs assess your ability to apply concepts and integrate knowledge across various course units. While the first FRQ lacks visual stimuli, the second incorporates one, and the third includes two—these stimuli, such as maps or charts, prompt questions. Unlike essays, FRQs emphasize focused responses. With 75 minutes allocated for the FRQs, equating to approximately 3½ minutes per question, most students have ample time. The key is to answer the specific question that's being asked, providing brief and precise responses, whether defining or reasoning. This format tests knowledge and reveals the depth of understanding acquired during the course.3
Strategies for AP HUG FRQs
- Reference the question with the corresponding letter (A-G) in FRQ responses.
- Answer in complete sentences and leave space between questions for potential additions.
- Keep responses straightforward; for example, when defining a term, begin with a clear statement.
- Focus on the question without unnecessary examples or explanations.
- Precisely address stimuli-related questions by aligning responses with the provided information.
- Read captions and accompanying text for a comprehensive understanding of stimuli.
- Consider units when interpreting numerical data to provide accurate responses.
- Respond to operative words in each prompt: identify, define, explain, describe, or compare.
- No strict rubrics exist; multiple correct answers are possible, but ensure alignment with the question.
- If time permits, review answers, starting with uncertain ones, for potential improvement.
- Having some blank lines can be beneficial for adding insights during the review.
Tips For Scoring a Perfect 5 on the AP Human Geography Exam
If your goal is to score a perfect 5, here are some AP Human Geography exam tips you should try:
Planning an AP Human Geography Study Schedule
Below is a schedule for review at two months, one month, and two weeks. At the start of the plan you choose, take a practice exam to identify the areas you need the most help on so you can take extra care when reviewing them: review notes, readings, online review outlines, and content videos.
- Two months before the exam: Spend 4-5 hours a week on each unit (an hour a day).
- One month before the exam: Spend 5-7 hours weekly on each unit (two hours a day).
- Two weeks before the exam: Dedicate 2.5 hours each day to studying.
See our proposed study schedule in the table below:
|Take an AP Human Geography practice test
|Review what you missed on the practice test
|Review units 1 & 2
|Review units 3 & 4
|Review units 5 & 6
|Review unit 7 and any areas of concern
|Practice stimulus and non-stimulus-based questions, sticking to exam time limits
AP Human Geography Review/Study Materials
Study materials for AP Human Geography exist in three basic types:
Summary: The Best AP Human Geography Study Guide
In this comprehensive 2023 AP Human Geography exam review guide, we've explored a wealth of information. Let's highlight some key insights:
- Strategic Approach:
- Use efficient strategies for MCQs and concise responses for FRQs.
- Prioritize time management and address more straightforward questions first.
- Daily Consistent Study:
- Dedicate 60 minutes daily for focused study sessions.
- Gradually increase study time weekly, incorporating varied resources.
- Optimized Schedule:
- Follow a structured two-month, one-month, and two-week study schedule.
- Identify weak areas through AP Human Geography practice tests and focus on those during reviews.
- Resource Diversity:
- Utilize a mix of printed materials, digital references, and active learning tools like UWorld QBank.
- Exam Simulations:
- Practice timed essay writing, interpret visual stimuli, and understand FRQ rubrics.
- Take practice exams to identify areas needing extra attention.
Make the most of tools like UWorld College Prep to prepare for AP tests. Dive into the AP Human Geography exam, use the available resources, and begin your journey toward academic success.