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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 redesigned AP Exam in May 2016.

Overview of the Redesign

The redesigned AP European History course:

  • 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 AP U.S. History and AP World History.)

  • 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 Course and Exam Description (.pdf/7.18MB).

The 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, visit AP European History Validation Study.

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.

Resources to help teachers prepare their syllabi are now available on the AP Course Audit website, including a syllabus development guide, curricular requirements, annotated sample syllabi, a syllabus development tutorial, and an example textbook list.

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 to use as an approach to teaching the course.

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

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 (50 minutes, 20 percent)
  • One document-based question (55 minutes, 25 percent)
  • One long essay question (35 minutes, 15 percent)

For a representative sample of exam questions, download the AP European History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/7.18MB). Questions from the original curriculum framework are preserved for your use in Sample Questions: AP European History Exam (.pdf/964KB). 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 offers a wide range of professional development options. These options include in-person workshops and Summer Institutes, where participants learn practical ways to design a rigorous curriculum and prepare students to succeed on the exam.

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.

How to Get Ready