AP® World History
Modern Scoring Guide

If you're in an AP® World History class or preparing for the AP World History exam (APWH), understanding the scoring process is crucial for effective study planning. This knowledge will enable you to concentrate on exam sections where you can excel. The AP World History exam, which lasts 3 hours and 15 minutes, can significantly impact college admission and the potential to earn college credit. If you want to learn about its scoring, continue reading.

How Is the AP World History Exam Scored?

The AP World History exam is typically scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. The scoring process involves two main sections:

Section I of the AP World History exam includes 55 multiple-choice (MCQs) and three short-answer (SAQs) questions and makes up 60% of the overall score. There is no penalty for wrong answers, so take a guess even if you are unsure of the answer.

Section II includes one document-based (DBQ) and one long essay (LEQ) question, which is 40% of the overall score. Let's take a quick look at how the exam is graded. As with all other AP exams, the final scaled score for AP World History will be between 1 and 5. Your raw scores are a cumulation of your scores from each section (MCQ, SAQ, DBQ, and LEQ).

Section Part Question Type Raw Points
Section I Part A 55 MCQs ~ 55 points
Part B 3 SAQs 9 points
Section II Part A 1 DBQ 7 points
Part B 1 LEQ 6 points
Subtotal 73 points

Section I scoring pattern

As you may already know, Section I of the APWH exam consists of MCQs and SAQs. Each of these question types is graded under a specific rubric. Let’s learn more about the APWH exam question grading:

  • Part A: Multiple-choice question

    For the multiple-choice questions, you get one point for each correct answer, and the maximum number of points you can earn on this part is 55.

    Keep in mind that this section accounts for 40% of your overall score. Incorrect answers do not deduct points, so be sure to fill in every answer bubble.

  • Part B: Short answer question

    Each short-answer question (labeled A-C) is worth 3 points. So, you can earn a total of 9 raw points for your responses to the three short-answer questions. This part accounts for 20% of your APWH score.

Section II scoring pattern

Section II includes DBQs and LEQs that require you to write free-response answers to the questions prompted. Both these question types are graded on how you establish your answer based on a line of reasoning, context and evidence. Let’s learn more about how these questions are graded:

  • Document-based question

    25% of your final grade will be based on your performance on the DBQ, which is evaluated on the 7-point rubric shown below. The following table will give you a better idea of how the raw scores in this section are distributed.

Reporting Category Points Scoring Criteria
(0–1 point)
1 pt Responds with a historically defensible thesis or claim and a line of reasoning.
(0–1 point)
1 pt Gives a broad historical context for the prompt.
(0–3 points)
Evidence from the documents
1 pt
Evidence beyond the documents
1 pt
If your response addresses the prompt by using at least three documents


You need to use at least one piece of historical evidence (beyond the documents) to argue about the prompt
Evidence from the documents
2 pts
Evidence beyond the documents
1 pt
If your answer supports an argument with six documents


You need to use at least one piece of historical evidence (beyond the documents) to argue about the prompt
Analysis and Reasoning
(0–2 points)
1 pt
Respond to the prompt using at least three documents to explain why a document's viewpoint, purpose, historical context, or audience is relevant to an argument.
1 pt
To answer this prompt, use evidence to corroborate, qualify, or modify an argument that answers the question.
  • Long essay question

    15% of your final grade is based on the LEQ, which is graded using the 6-point rubric explained below. You can see how the raw scores for this section are distributed in the table below.

Reporting Category Points Scoring Criteria
(0–1 point)
1 pt Responds to the prompt with a historically defensible thesis or claim.
(0–1 point)
1 pt Provides relevant historical context.
(0–2 points)
1 pt Provides prompt-related evidence.
2 pts Responds to the prompt with specific, relevant evidence.
Analysis and Reasoning
(0–2 points)
1 pt Uses historical reasoning (e.g. comparison, causation, continuity, and change) to address the prompt.
2 pts Uses evidence to corroborate, qualify, or modify an argument that answers the question.
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AP World History Scoring Table

Your total exam score is weighted into a final score of 1 to 5. Each score reflects a specific performance. These scores are developed after a lot of research that the College Board® conducts. Colleges use these scores to decide who gets free credit and placement. Students need a score of 3 or more to qualify for college credit. You can choose to send your score report to colleges through the College Board. To learn more about how to send your scores to the colleges of your choice, read our guide to AP Scores.

The main aim of AP World History is to teach you foundational history at the college level right in high school. Hence, the board ensures that a student’s performance, measured by their final score on the APWH exam, can be correlated to a college student’s performance in a college-level history course.

The AP score table below shows how AP scores are converted into equivalent college grades for the AP World History: Modern exam.

AP Exam Score College Grade Equivalent Qualification
5 A+ or A Extremely well qualified
4 A-, B+, or B Well qualified
3 B-, C+, or C Qualified
2 Possibly Qualified
1 No recommendation

As you can see, a score of less than 3 does not imply a good college grade. On the APWH exam, a score of 4 or 5 is considered excellent. Always double-check the minimum requirements of the colleges to which you intend to apply.

AP World History Score Distribution

The AP World History exam score distribution can vary from year to year, and it depends on the performance of all test takers.

Here are the AP World History score distributions for the last three years:

AP Score % of Students 2023 % of Students 2022 % of Students 2021 % of Students 2020 4-years average
5 15% 13% 10% 9% 12%
4 22% 22% 19% 23% 22%
3 28% 27% 24% 28% 27%
2 22% 24% 29% 26% 25%
1 13% 14% 19% 14% 15%
Two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, AP World History scores dropped from 60.2% in 2020 to 52.2% in 2021. However, the pass rates have bounced back to pre COVID level of 62.1% in 2022 and 65% in 2023.

AP World History is one of the most popular social studies AP courses. While the popularity of a course can influence the score distribution, it's important to note that the College Board uses a statistical process known as "equating" to ensure that scores are fair and consistent from year to year. This process adjusts for differences in test difficulty and ensures that the scores accurately reflect a student's performance relative to other test-takers. Ultimately, the goal is to maintain the integrity of the AP scoring system regardless of a course's popularity.

Minimum Score Requirement for College Credits

Passing the AP World History exam with a score of 3 or higher can earn you up to six hours of college credit. Most US colleges accept AP scores for credit or advanced placement. However, some schools require a 4 or a 5 to grant these credits. Some colleges offer both advanced placement and credit, which means you will get the credits while also skipping the course.

Each college has different AP score requirements. It is important to know the college entrance requirements for AP World History while preparing for the exam. To help you narrow your search, we have compiled a list of the top 10 universities and the AP scores they accept. Let us take a look.

Institution AP Score AP Recognition Placement Credit Equivalent Course
Harvard University 5 Credit 0 Credit Subject to other qualifying conditions
University of California, Berkeley (UCB) 3 Credit Earns 3 units toward breadth requirement (Group II: Humanities and Social Sciences) Group II: Humanities and Social Sciences
Princeton University 4 Credit 1 Credit None
University of Chicago 5 Credit 100 units of general elective credit None
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor 4 or 5 Credit 4 credit hours for 100 level History None
Carnegie Mellon University 5 Credit 9 CMU Units 79-015, AP World History: Modern
Gonzaga University 4 Credit 3 Credits History 112
Pepperdine University 3 Credit 4 Elective Units THIS 100.01
Fordham University 4 Credit 3 non-major elective credits None
UCLA (School of Letters and Science) 3 Credit & Placement 8 credits and World History placement HIST
Florida State University 3 Credit 3 Credits WOH 2023 (3)
4 Credit 3 Credits WOH 2023 (3)
5 Credit 6 Credits WOH 2023 (3)
WOH 2030 (3)
Syracuse University 4 Credit 6 Credits HST 121, 122 and counts as a sequence in social sciences.

To learn why taking the AP World History exam is beneficial to your career, read our AP World History: Modern Exam guide .

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Frequently Asked Questions

A 5 on your AP World History exam is unquestionably the best possible score. However, if you get a score of 3 to 5, you will be eligible for college placement and credits.

The average AP World History exam score in 2023 is 3.04, an increase from 2.96 in 2022.

The AP World History scores are curved to ensure consistency and standardization across exams given on paper, digital media, and at different times. This ensures AP exam scores translate to equivalent college grades.

The exam date for AP World History: Modern is scheduled for Wednesday, May 15, 2024, at 8 a.m. local time.
Only one student scored a perfect 5 out of  ~314,000 test-takers who took the AP World History: Modern exam in 2022, and no one got a perfect score in 2021.
To achieve a score of 5 on the AP World History exam, you need to thoroughly prepare and demonstrate a strong understanding of the course material. It is important to practice exam-like questions and the free-response question rubric. To boost your confidence, increase your knowledge, and prepare for the AP World History exam, follow these five steps.
  1. To determine your level of knowledge, take an AP World History practice test.
  2. Make a study plan (and stick to it) ahead of time for your exam.
  3. Use an online learning tool that includes exam-style practice questions and comprehensive explanations.
  4. Keep track of your progress to see where you’re succeeding and where you need to improve.
  5. Exam prep begins with practice. It allows you to compare your answers to those that have already been graded.
Using an online learning tool like UWorld is beneficial because we provide:
  • Hundreds of AP World History-style questions.
  • Correct misconceptions with examples that bring history to life.
  • You can measure your progress and improve by tracking your performance.

Read More About the AP World History Exam

Learn everything about your exam long before exam day with this valuable exam guide. Review tips, what’s on the exam, who can take it, and all the essential FAQs—it’s all there.

Access to an informative study guide and materials is crucial to exam success. Get the most out of UWorld’s essential review tips on the frequently tested topics to ace your exam.

Knowing the exam format gives you a huge advantage! Learn the AP World History exam format in this simple guide that breaks down the exam components, question types, and more.

Wondering what units, topics, and key concepts are tested on the AP World History Exam? Discover everything you need here in our APWH Course and Exam Description summary.

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