AP® World History Modern
Exam Guide

High schoolers currently enrolled in AP® World History: Modern (APMWH) or who are considering taking the class will benefit from taking the AP World History exam (WHAP) at the end of the course. There are many benefits to passing the WHAP exam, but preparation is key. This AP World History exam guide will help you answer key questions and set you up for the end-of-course exam.

What Is AP World History Equivalent to, and Who Can Take It?

AP World History: Modern is equivalent to an introductory college-level world history course, and there are no prerequisites for it.

Students who take the AP World History course can take the spring exam, but it is optional. However, most students take it at the end of the year, considering it beneficial for their college credits. You should consider taking World History in high school to prepare for the WHAP course and exam. With that said, you do not need to take the AP World History course to take the exam. Non-course-takers can still take the exam if they want. Students who choose this option usually have a solid foundation in the subject or have self-studied.

The college-level course material can be overwhelming for someone who is not interested in social science, especially history. The ideal AP World History student analyzes historical arguments and makes connections using comparison, causation, and continuity. Taking APWH Modern is a great option for students who wish to major in history, anthropology, art history, linguistics, or sociology.

A high-quality online learning tool like UWorld can help you prepare for the exam, regardless of whether you are taking the course or self-studying. Acing your exam can save you time and money down the road—you will see how in the answers to this next question.

Why Should I Take the AP World History Course and Exam?

AP World History is one of the most popular social studies AP courses, and it can offer you some major benefits that’ll give you a headstart for college:

  1. College Readiness:
    Taking AP World History demonstrates college readiness to admissions committees, especially if you’re planning a humanities major like social sciences, philosophy, legal studies, or cultural studies. AP students are more prepared for college than others. So, taking the AP World History exam and doing well will help you with your college admissions because colleges are more confident in your abilities to excel academically.
  2. College Credits:
    Many colleges will give you college credit for AP World History with a score of 3 or higher if you enroll in a humanities major. This means you have to take fewer courses in college. Passing the AP World History exam can earn you up to six hours of college credit (instead of three hours for other AP courses).
  3. Save on College Tuition:
    If you are awarded college credit by scoring a 3 or above on your exam, that means you have to pay less college tuition for your freshman year in college. The minimum score required for granting credits varies from school to school. Be sure to do your research to find out about the policies of your target colleges or universities.
  4. In-depth subject knowledge:
    APWH helps you prepare for college-level history and other courses. Getting used to AP World History's rigor and challenges will boost your confidence and skills for more complex courses. You will have adapted your study methods to the college-like pace, giving you a college advantage.
  5. Reading and Writing Mastery:
    The AP World History course is intensive. History is taught from 1200 CE to the present. This will help develop reading and writing skills at a faster pace than in a non-AP history course.
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Should I Take the AP World History Exam?

When considering whether to take the APWH exam, it's important to weigh several factors. Here are some key points to help you make an informed decision:

  1. Have you taken high school world history?

    A high school world history class is recommended before AP World History. The time periods are vast. Since the class spans Ancient History to the present, general themes and concepts are more valuable than specific facts for each time period. This course may be difficult if you have never studied history before.
  2. Are you scoring well in history?

    If you have studied history, you know how you will do on the test. Passion for the subject is essential, but so is being able to learn and ace exams. If you were good at history in high school, you will enjoy the APWH.
  3. Do you wish to pursue world history in college?

    If you are certain you will study World History in college, take AP World History. As a foundational course and credit saver, most students only consider taking it if they want to continue in the field. Preparing for the APWH exam can help you pursue World History in college.
  4. Do you have strong research, analytical, and communication skills?

    To do well on the exam, students must use the three reasoning skills: causation, comparison, continuity and change. They must be able to read and analyze historical sources, taking into account the author, historical context, author's point of view, and intended audience. The student must then use reasoning and analysis to answer a writing prompt.

Before enrolling in AP World History, speak with teachers and former students.

What Is on the AP World History Exam?

The AP World History exam includes topics on historical events from c. 1200 - the present. Based on the college board’s curriculum, the course is categorized into skills, themes, and units. Below is the list of skills tested on the exam, followed by the themes and the units:

  1. Developments and Processes: Explaining historical processes and events.
  2. Sourcing and Situations: Analyze primary and secondary sources and context.
  3. Claims and Evidence in Sources: Analyze primary and secondary sources for arguments.
  4. Contextualization: Analyze the historical contexts of events, developments, or processes.
  5. Making Connections: Analyze patterns and links using historical reasoning (comparison, causality, continuity, and change).
  6. Argumentation: Construct an argument.
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The exam will also assess your knowledge of the six “Themes” of the course themes:

  1. Humans and the Environment: Understanding and analyzing population growth-related environmental changes.
  2. Cultural Developments and Interactions: Understanding how a society's ideas, beliefs, and religions develop has political, social, and cultural implications.
  3. Governance: Understanding how the government maintains order through administrative institutions, policies, and procedures to obtain, retain, and exercise power.
  4. Economic Systems: Knowing how developing societies' production, exchange, and consumption affect them.
  5. Social Interactions and Organization: Understanding how societies group their members and the norms that influence political, economic, and cultural interactions.
  6. Technology and Innovation: Understanding how human adaptation, innovation, and technological advances have shaped human development and interactions.

Each theme is divided into commonly taught units to make teaching and learning efficient and comprehensive. Let us look at these 9 units and their exam weight.

Units Tested Chronological Period Weight on the Exam
1. The Global Tapestry c. 1200 to c. 1450 8%–10%
2. Network of Exchange c. 1200 to c. 1450 8%–10%
3. Land-Based Empires c. 1450 to c. 1750 12%–15%
4. Transoceanic Interconnections c. 1450 to c. 1750 12%–15%
5. Revolutions c. 1750 to c. 1900 12%–15%
6. Consequences of Industrialization c. 1750 to c. 1900 12%–15%
7. Global Conflict c. 1900 to the present 8%–10%
8. Cold War and Decolonization c. 1900 to the present 8%–10%
9. Globalization c. 1900 to the present 8%–10%

AP World History Exam Format for 2024

The AP World History exam duration is 3 hours and 15 minutes. Let's take a look at these two distinct sections along with what’s included in each.

Sections Parts Question Types Time Allocated Weight
Section I Part A 55 Multiple-Choice Questions 55 minutes 40%
Part B 3 Short-Answer Questions 40 minutes 20%
Section II Part A 1 Document-based Question 60 minutes 25%
Part B 1 Long-Essay Question 40 minutes 15%

Let us explore these question types.

Section I, Part A: Multiple-Choice

It contains 55 multiple-choice questions, which typically appear in sets of three to four questions. They include excerpts from historical documents, images, graphs, and maps. This section tests your ability to analyze sources and recall world history knowledge.

Section I, Part B: Short Answers

In this section, you need to respond to short-answer questions.

  1. Question 1 (required) uses a secondary source to discuss 1200 to 2001.
  2. Question 2 (required) includes primary sources and focuses on 1200–2001.
  3. For the last question, students can answer #3 about historical events between 1200 and 1750 or #4 about 1750 to 2001.

While answering these questions, you will need to

  • Analyze the source
  • Analyze source-described historical events and processes
  • Contextualize historical events and processes
  • Make historical connections

Section II, Part A: Document-Based Questions (DBQ)

In this part of the section, you will be shown seven documents that offer different perspectives on a historical event or process. You must assess the viewpoints and develop an argument based on historical evidence. This question covers 1450–2001.

Section II, Part B: Long Essay

You must write a long essay based on historical evidence from 1200–1750, 1450–1900, or 1750–2001. You should indeed develop a thesis and use historical evidence to support it, but there are no required documents. Instead, use your AP World History knowledge. You have three essay options, each covering a different time period.

Both sections of the exam are timed, so prepare thoroughly with a trusted online resource.

Is AP World History Hard?

AP World History's difficulty and suitability can be subjective. However, here are a few pointers to help you determine how difficult the course may be.

  1. If you have done well in social studies and enjoy history, APWH will be easier for you.
  2. AP World History: Modern covers a lot of material in a year. Students will learn about historical events from 1200 CE to the present, so there is a lot to process and remember.
  3. Despite being a popular AP course, APWH has a lower pass rate and fewer students are scoring a 5. This could be due to the amount of material covered or taken early in high school before students have AP experience.
  4. See if your high school schedule allows for AP classes and prep work. APWH is usually taken in 9th or 10th grade before students have much AP experience.

Here is the AP World History exam score information for the year 2023:

AP World History Exam Score

AP World History exam score information
In 2019, 55.3% of test-takers received a score of 3 or higher, rising to 60.2% in 2020. However, as a result of COVID-19, the pass rate fell to 52.2% in 2021. The good news is that the APWH success rate has jumped back to 62.1% in 2022, and to 65 % in 2023.

What Are Some AP World History Review Tips?

Now that you have reviewed the information about the exam, you’re probably curious about the best ways to prepare for the AP World History Modern exam so that you can earn a 3, 4, or 5 on exam day.

  1. Have a schedule and commit to it:
    Pace yourself; there is a lot to read. Exam preparation takes time and effort. Self-discipline and a schedule are essential.
  2. Practice is all you need:
    Practice is the most important way to begin preparing for the exam. It is important to practice with exam-like questions and to become familiar with the free-response question rubric.
  3. Pick the right resources:
    You cannot gauge your progress without enough quality practice tests. It shows if your hard work paid off. Invest in UWorld's online tests and study guides. You will have better odds.
  4. Know the exam format:
    Familiarizing yourself with the exam format prepares you for the question types and the number of questions on the actual test. This helps you learn how to distribute your time across each section, and how much time to spend on each question.

If you prepare with UWorld, take AP World History Modern practice tests, apply yourself in the classroom, and stick to a well-thought-out study plan, you will increase your GPA and ace your exam.

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

You are allowed to bring:

  1. No.2 pencils for multiple-choice answer sheets
  2. Black or dark blue pens
  3. A government or school-issued photo ID
  4. A watch without internet access or an alarm

You can find AP World History past exam questions on the College Board®’s website.

If you do not do well on the APWH exam, you can always take it again the next year and request that the College Board report only your highest score.

The APWH exam costs $97 in the US, Canada, and US Territories and $127 for international students. Visit the Exam Policies and Guidelines page for more information.
The AP World History test will be conducted on Wednesday, May 15 at 8 a.m. local time.

Usually, tenth graders take AP World History. Students are encouraged to take the course in junior high as it is more of a basic foundational course.


  1. Packer. (2023, June 21). The 2023 AP World History scores. twitter.com. Retrieved November 1, 2023, from https://twitter.com/AP_Trevor/status/1671564606534189073?lang=en

    AP Score Distributions – AP Students | College Board. (n.d.).

  2. New Analyses of AP Scores of 1 and 2. (2021, June). collegeboard.org. Retrieved November 6, 2023, from https://research.collegeboard.org/media/pdf/new-analyses-ap-scores-1-and-2.pdf
  3. Student Score Distributions* AP exams - May 2021. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://secure-media.collegeboard.org/digitalServices/pdf/research/2021/2021-ap-student-score-distributions.pdf
  4. AP World history modern course and exam description. (n.d.). Retrieved February 2, 2022, from https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/pdf/ap-world-history-modern-course-and-exam-description.pdf?course=ap-world-history-modern
  5. 2024 AP Exam Dates – AP Central | College Board. (n.d.).

Read More About the AP World History Exam

You will have an edge over the competition if you’re aware of the exam format. So, we’ve put together an easy-to-read article that talks about the exam format, question types, and more!
Reviewing all the pages of the College Board CED pdf can be overwhelming. Click on our simple AP World History Course and Exam Description for clear info on the exam, units, and topics!
Ever wondered if there’s a calculator to predict your score? Here’s a detailed article about the AP World History scoring system with a score calculator to help you see where you stand.
Get the advantage of our easy-to-read AP World History Study Guide and the most effective resources designed by experts, and get college admissions without any struggle.
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