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Redesign Launching Fall 2015

We’re excited to announce significant changes to the AP Art History course and exam. These changes reflect recent scholarship that emphasizes critical analysis of works of art and understanding of relationships among global artistic traditions. The AP Art History course continues to prepare students for successful placement into subsequent college and university art history courses.

The redesigned course begins in fall 2015, followed by the revised AP Exam in May 2016.

Overview of Revisions

Currently, AP Art History teachers are faced with the challenge of balancing a large scope of course content — typically more than five hundred works of art — and the need to explore global artistic traditions with students’ development of deep conceptual understandings and art historical skills. The redesigned AP Art History course addresses this challenge by specifying learning objectives, defining course content, and limiting the number of works of art students are required to understand.

The redesigned AP Art History curriculum:

  • Engages students at the same level as an introductory college art history survey course, with students developing skills in visual, contextual, and comparative analysis.

  • Offers teachers the freedom and flexibility to tailor instruction to meet the needs and interests of their students.

  • Limits the required course content to 250 works of art — foundational exemplars of global artistic traditions within 10 content areas — to promote in-depth learning. Teachers are also encouraged to include additional works they value within their individual course content.

  • Continues to include global art content, with emphasis on diverse artistic traditions.

  • Delineates clear learning objectives that represent the disciplinary skills valued by art historians and higher education faculty, and clearly articulates connections between the learning objectives, content, and exam.

  • Is not designed to encourage or reward students' memorization of isolated facts about works of art, artists, or cultures.

For complete information on all of the changes, download the AP Art History Curriculum Framework, which includes an image set of the required 250 works of art — along with identifying information and context for each — as well as sample exam questions. To download specific sections of the curriculum framework, see below.

College department chairs and faculty members across the nation reviewed and affirmed each element of the redesigned course and exam. They also affirmed that the 250 works of art that make up the course content align with their expectations of the number and types of works students should know. For more information, download this guide to the higher education validation study

To learn more about the role of college faculty in course and exam development, visit the AP higher education website. For information about specific institutions’ credit policies for AP Art History and other subjects, visit AP Credit Policy Search.

The Curriculum Framework

To make downloading the curriculum framework easier, the document is available in full (.pdf/28MB), or by section:

The AP Course Audit

AP Art History teachers need to revise their syllabus and have it authorized through the AP Course Audit. Taking this step helps teachers understand the new course requirements. To make the process of updating syllabi as straightforward as possible, teachers have the following options:

  • Option 1: Design and submit a syllabus aligned with the new curricular requirements.
  • Option 2: Adopt and submit one of the Annotated Sample Syllabi (available on the AP Course Audit website in February 2015) to use as an approach to teaching the course.

The AP Course Audit will begin accepting syllabi for review in March 2015.

During the coming transition period, AP will support teachers in completing the AP Course Audit and will provide many resources online to help them plan for the 2015-16 year, including practice exam questions, syllabus development guides, sample syllabi, course planning and pacing guides, and more. Please visit AP Course Audit Information for details.

The Exam Format

The redesigned AP Art History Exam will ask students to apply art historical skills to the course content, which includes works of art from the image set and contextual knowledge from the enduring understanding and essential knowledge statements.

The exam will consist of the following sections:

  • Section 1: Approximately 80 multiple-choice questions, including discrete questions and sets of questions (1 hour; 40 percent)
  • Section 2: Free-response questions (2 hours: two 30-minute essay questions and four 15-minute essay questions; 60 percent)

For a representative sample of exam questions, download the AP Art History Curriculum Framework. A full AP Art History Practice Exam will be available to teachers through their AP Course Audit accounts in summer 2015. The practice exam will feature the same number and type of questions that will be in the 2016 redesigned exam.

Professional Development

To ensure that teachers have access to the training they need to teach the redesigned course in 2015-16, AP will offer a wide range of professional development options. These options include face-to-face workshops and AP Summer Institutes, where participants learn practical ways to design a rigorous curriculum and prepare students to succeed on the exam.

Professional development opportunities are available beginning in summer 2014.

Teachers can also join the AP Art History Teacher Community, an online forum moderated by fellow educators that enables AP teachers to connect with colleagues, share classroom materials, and exchange ideas about teaching the redesigned course.

More Information

For more on the topics covered above, download FAQs on the AP Art History Redesign.

How To Get Ready

  • Read the AP Art History Curriculum Framework.
  • Become familiar with the AP Course Audit process and timeline for creating a syllabus.
  • Join the AP Art History Teacher Community and collaborate with peers in planning for the new course.
  • Plan to participate in professional development in summer 2014 and/or summer 2015 to become more familiar with the course changes and to support your preparation for the redesigned course. 2014 AP Summer Institutes focus 20 percent of their time on the redesigned course and exam, and 80 percent on the current course and exam. 2015 AP Summer Institutes will focus solely on the redesigned course and exam.