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Redesign Launching Fall 2015

We’re excited to announce significant changes to the AP European History course and exam, changes that accomplish two major goals. They maintain AP European History's strong alignment with the knowledge and skills taught in introductory courses at the college level. They also offer teachers the flexibility to focus on specific historical topics, events, and issues in depth.

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

Overview of Revisions

The redesigned AP European History curriculum:

  • Is structured around the investigation of five course themes and 19 key concepts in four different chronological periods, from approximately 1450 to the present — the same overall chronological time period that AP European History teachers are already teaching.

  • Allows students to spend more time learning essential concepts and developing the historical thinking skills necessary to explore European history by focusing on a limited number of key concepts. (These are the same historical thinking skills that have informed the redesign of the AP U.S. History course and exam and revisions to the AP World History curriculum.)

  • Relieves the pressure on teachers to cover all possible events and details of European history at a superficial level.

  • Continues to prepare students for the rigors of advanced college-level work in history.

For complete information on all of the changes, download the AP European History Curriculum Framework.

The new curriculum framework is just that: a framework. It provides a systematic approach for presenting the essential skills and understandings that students should be able to demonstrate at the end of their AP European History course. It is not a detailed manual for how to teach the course; rather, it presents a clear set of skills and learning objectives that will be measured on the AP European History Exam. By helping teachers to prioritize among the possible topics to cover across the scope of European history, the framework allows teachers to explore certain topics in greater depth.

College department chairs and faculty members across the nation reviewed and affirmed each element of the redesigned course and exam. They identified the key concepts that history students must learn. In addition, they confirmed that within those parameters, AP teachers have the flexibility to select which specific historical topics, examples, and primary sources to teach. 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 European History and other subjects, visit AP Credit Policy Search.

The AP Course Audit

AP European History teachers will 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 begins 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 new exam will feature short-answer, document-based, and essay questions that ask students to demonstrate historical content knowledge and thinking skills through written responses. Multiple-choice questions will ask students to use content knowledge to analyze and interpret primary and secondary sources.


The exam will consist of four parts:

  • 55 multiple-choice questions (55 minutes, 40 percent)
  • Four short-answer questions (45 minutes, 20 percent)
  • One document-based question (60 minutes, 25 percent)
  • One long essay question (35 minutes, 15 percent)


For a representative sample of exam questions, download the AP European History Curriculum Framework. A full AP European 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 starting in 2015-16, AP will offer a wide range of professional development options. These options include face-to-face workshops and 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 European 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 the FAQs on the AP European History Redesign.

How to Get Ready

  • Read the AP European History Curriculum Framework.
  • Become familiar with the AP Course Audit process and timeline for creating a syllabus.
  • Join the AP European 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.