AP® World History
Modern Study Guide & Materials

In this guide, we will help you with every stage of the process. From the moment you sign up for an AP® World History course to exam day, you can take the following steps to prepare and improve your chances of getting your dream score.

How to Study for the AP World History: Modern Exam?

AP World History is an expansive test, which covers centuries of people, places, events, and how the world has changed over time. Preparing for the exam is a year-long process, which takes time, but when divided into small chunks, is easily doable. If you follow the steps below over the course of the school year, you will have a good chance of obtaining a passing grade on the exam.

How to prepare for the AP World History class?

The following tips will help you prepare for the AP World History Course:

  • Start studying during the summer before the exam.
  • Review the AP World History: Modern course and exam description.
  • If possible, talk to the AP World History teacher about the expectations of the class. It might also be a good idea to speak with your guidance counselor about the rigor of the course.
  • Find College Board® writing rubrics (available online) and familiarize yourself with them.
  • Practice writing, eventually doing timed writing.
  • Identify the best learning strategy for you: how do you best absorb information? Reading? Reading while taking notes? Videos? A combination of these? The summer is a great time to figure this out.

Preparing for the exam takes a lot of effort, but it’s a marathon, not a sprint.

How to study for the AP World History course?

AP World History is considered by many to be one of the most challenging AP courses, but it doesn’t have to be. With a bit of preparation and planning, you'll be able to do well in AP class and on the exam.

Consider the following tips on self-studying effectively for AP World History:

  • Do some summer prep work.
  • Familiarize yourself with the course using College Board resources.
  • Talk to the AP teacher about what to expect in the class.

During the school year:

  • Carve out some time every day to read the textbook or review classroom notes. This class is a marathon, not a sprint. Cramming the night before won't help.
  • Remember that you can't memorize every piece of content in AP World History.
  • Familiarize yourself with significant patterns, historical themes of each unit, political developments, and technological advances throughout history.
  • Know a few historical examples from each unit for essays.
  • Watch content-related videos (like Crash Course World History and World History 2).
  • Practice timed writing to become familiar with essay rubrics.
  • Take practice tests (available through the College Board's site); these will help gauge your readiness.
  • Use online resources for MCQs, like UWorld, for extra practice.

World History is different from US History because it is a course about patterns in history and how they change or stay the same. Don't be afraid to ask your teacher or a classmate for help.

What units are the most difficult to learn or focus on due to complexity?

There are several units that students struggle with on the AP World History exam. The best way to figure out what you struggle with is by taking some practice exams, looking at which ones you got wrong, and seeing what unit they belong to.

Unit 1 tends to be one that students struggle with overall. Because the course begins in 1200, it can be challenging to understand global connections. Some test prep books (like Advanced Placement World History: Modern by AMSCO) offer a brief prologue that helps students understand what happened before 1200, since it's all interconnected.

Unit 8 is another unit that can be problematic for students because teachers have to hurry through the unit, and they don't get to spend as much time on it. Though only 8-10% of the test, questions about this period are covered on the exam.

Thematically, students struggle with

  • Economic and philosophical changes across time periods.
  • Decolonization and neo-colonialism.
  • The connection between industrialism and 19th-century colonialism.
Diagram depicting mercantilism between the 15th and 18th centuries
We make really hard stuff easy to understand. Study smarter with UWorld.

How to pass AP World History: Modern?

  • Study at least 30 minutes a day, every day.
  • Keep up with the reading.
  • Practice your writing skills and familiarize yourself with the rubric.
  • Find study guides and online test prep, such as UWorld's AP World History exam prep.
  • Two weeks before the exam, increase your study time to 1 hour a day, reviewing two units each day.
  • Ask the teacher for help and suggestions on how to improve; they will be happy to help.

How can one improve their score from 3 to 4 in the AP World History exam?

To improve your score from 3 to 4:

  • Increase study time to 45 minutes every day.
  • Keep up with the reading.
  • Continue to use online test prep services, such as UWorld's AP World History exam prep.
  • Introduce timed writing to further develop your writing skills.
  • One month prior to the exam, increase study time to 1.5 hours a day.
  • Ask the teacher for help and suggestions on how to improve; they will be happy to help.

How to do well on the AP World History exam?

To improve your score from 4 to 5:

  • Be prepared to study 45 to 60 minutes every day.
  • Keep up with the reading.
  • Make flashcards of essential terms and figures in AP World History.
  • Increase the time each week that you use online test prep services, such as UWorld's AP World History exam prep (this is in addition to regular reading and study).

Two months before the exam, increase study time to 2 hours a day:

  • Practice timed writing at least once a week.
  • Ask your teacher for help and suggestions on how to improve; they will be happy to help.

How to score a perfect 5 in the AP World History exam?

To get a perfect score:

  • Be prepared to devote 60 minutes a day to studying.
  • Read the textbook daily and take notes.
  • Make flashcards of important terms and figures in AP World History.
  • Increase time each week that you use online test prep services, such as UWorld's AP World History exam prep (this is in addition to regular reading and study).
  • Practice timed writing weekly.
  • Know the FRQ rubrics backward and forward.

By Spring Break:

  • Begin exam prep.
  • Increase study time to 1.5 hours a day.
  • Purchase an exam prep book (eg: 5 Steps to a 5); incorporate it into your study plan
  • Increase the time each week that you use online test prep services, such as UWorld's AP World History exam prep (this is in addition to regular reading and study).
  • Take a practice test every three weeks to gauge your progress.
  • When studying, focus on areas that you are struggling with.
  • Ask the teacher for help and suggestions on how to improve; they will be happy to help.

How to review for the AP World History exam?

  • Take and score a practice test while sticking to the exam time limits.
  • Analyze what you got incorrect.
  • Categorize incorrect questions by units.
  • Look for patterns as you study. Are you struggling with geography? Did you miss questions related to Cultural Developments and Interactions?
  • Once you've found the problem areas, revisit study notes.
  • Go back over study notes and textbooks, watch videos, and review class tests you took.
  • Quiz yourself and make flashcards.
  • Read info out loud as your review (studies prove it’s a good study technique).
  • Practice timed writing.
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Diagram of the Feudal system
Images of Maritime technologies introduced by the 14th century
Image and description of Five Pillars of Islam

How To Study for AP World History Unit Tests

AP World History: Modern Study Exam Tips

There is a lot of material students are expected to know before they take the AP World History exam. Having a concise plan will help optimize your study time as you prepare for the AP World History exam.

How to plan AP World History 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 the notes, 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 a week 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:

Day 1 Take practice test
Day 2-3 Review what you missed on practice test
Day 4-5 Review units 1 & 2
Day 6-7 Review units 3 & 4
Day 8-9 Review units 5 & 6
Day 10-11 Review units 7-9
Day 12-13 Practice LEQ, SEQ, and DBQ sticking to exam time limits

How much time do you need to dedicate for AP World History exam to score a 3, 4, or 5?

  • To receive a 3 on the exam, you should begin exam prep two weeks before the exam.
  • To receive a 4 on the exam, you should begin exam prep one month before the exam.
  • To receive a 5 on the exam, you should begin exam prep two months before the exam.

Summary of Approaches to Various AP World History Exam Questions

The AP World History Exam is one of the most challenging AP exams to take due to the broad spectrum of information that is taught in the course, including significant historical events, people, and changes over time. In this section, you will learn tips to be successful on all parts of the AP World History exam.

How to approach multiple-choice questions (MCQ)

  • Read the entire question to identify what is being asked.
  • Read all answer options.
  • Eliminate wrong answers through the process of elimination.
  • Answer questions you know first.

To learn more, read our guide on how to approach multiple-choice questions.

How to approach short answer questions

  • Read prompts thoroughly.
  • Be brief, using only 3 or 4 sentences.
  • Write in complete sentences.
  • Manage your time.
  • Explain point of view.
  • Stay in the time period asked about.
  • Answer only the question.

Read our article to learn how to approach short-answer questions effectively.

How To answer long essay questions (LEQ)

  • State relevant thesis answering the question.
  • Support your argument with evidence and examples.
  • Be familiar with the rubric.
  • Be mindful of time.

How To answer document-based question (DBQ)

  • Analyze documents.
  • Write in your own words (no direct quotes).
  • Formulate a thesis.
  • Add additional evidence.
  • Provide context and evidence in support of prompt.
  • Demonstrate the ability to gain a deeper understanding of the argument.

See our guide on AP World History free response questions for more study tips to answer LEQ and DBQ questions.

AP World History Review/Study Materials

Study materials for AP World History exist in three basic types:

  • Printed materials such as study-guide books
  • Digital reference materials such as online essays
  • Other digital learning tools such as question banks

Study guide books from publishers (such as McGraw-Hill) are classic tools for preparing for the test. These study resources will provide test-taking tips, include essays on important topics, and practice exams. However, the downside to these study resources is that the essays are lengthy, the organization feels like a textbook, and the practice test questions can be very dissimilar to those on the real exam.

Digital reference materials, such as online essays, are good study materials for AP World History. Articles on History.com and Khanacademy.org can be fantastic for reading short essays contextualizing historical events and developments. Consider these essays to be supplemental reading.

Digital question banks (QBanks) are the best AP World History study materials for active learning. The UWorld AP World History exam prep has hundreds of practice questions that closely resemble the College Board's AP World History exam questions. Furthermore, the practice questions closely align with the course topics and concepts and include short explanations for questions and visuals to reinforce learning.

Read More About the AP World History

Answering MCQs appears simple, but the correct answer can differ by a small margin. Here, we’ll show you strategies to approach the right answer in AP World History MCQs.

FRQs can trouble you if you don’t know the right strategy. See our detailed how-to article for tips on answering each type of AP World History free-response question.

Want to know what units, topics, and key concepts are tested on the AP World History Exam? Get a summary of the course description with the required skills here.

Access to an insightful AP World History exam guide can help you begin the exam prep beforehand. Dive into the complete exam information here in this article.

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