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New Course and Exam Description

The 2015 edition of the AP U.S. History Course and Exam Description (.pdf/1.58MB) (CED) is now available.

  • The 2015 edition is clearer, more precise, and easier for teachers to use.
  • Existing AP Course Audit authorizations remain valid.
  • A free print copy of the 2015 edition of the CED will be mailed to all AP U.S. History teachers this fall.

Key improvements:

  • Streamlined learning objectives (pages 10–21)
  • Reformatted and clarified concept outline (pages 22–89)
  • New section: AP U.S. History Instructional Approaches (pages 90–111)

For details, visit Frequently Asked Questions.

Rubric Updates

The rubrics for the AP history document-based questions and long essays have been improved based on feedback from AP U.S. History teachers and AP Readers.

  • The rubrics continue to use an analytic structure, but the definitions within that structure have been refined to be clearer and more precise.
  • Modifications to the structure of the rubric change how points are assigned during the scoring of student essays.
  • To align with these changes, we’ve also made some minor adjustments to the language of the historical thinking skills and presented the skills and related skill proficiencies in an easier-to-read table layout.

Download the updated rubrics and historical thinking skills (.pdf/555KB).

Course Information

Defining the Course

The 2015 edition of the course and exam description (.pdf/1.58MB) includes the concept outline, curriculum framework, and sample exam questions. These resources, alongside state and local requirements for American history courses, help teachers build their syllabi.

A full print copy of the CED will be mailed to all AP U.S. History teachers this fall, free of charge.

Customize for the Classroom

The concept outline on pages 22–89 of the 2015 edition of the AP U.S. History CED has been reformatted with extra blank space for teachers to write in examples of the historical individuals, events, topics, or sources they use in their classrooms.

Additional Resources

Teacher-created resources are available on our Teacher Resources page.

Course Planning and Pacing Guides demonstrate how various teachers plan and pace the curriculum.

Note: These guides will be updated to reflect the recent changes to the AP U.S. History curriculum framework and rubrics.

Ted Dickson,
Providence Day School, NC (.pdf/6.12MB)

This course is taught at an independent college preparatory school where the teacher encourages students to make connections between themes. The teacher emphasizes group discussion and peer modeling as well as the use of document-based questions to develop argumentation skills.

Geri Hastings,
Catonsville High School, MD (.pdf/5.74MB)

This course is taught in a comprehensive public high school where the teacher emphasizes student-centered activities and differentiated instruction. Students take ownership of the lessons by presenting, and actually doing, some of the teaching themselves.

Ian Lowell,
Masuk High School, CT (.pdf/6.53MB)

This course is taught at a public suburban high school where the teacher creates a balance of in-depth case study analysis while fitting that learning into broader themes and contexts of an era.

Saul Straussman,
Taylor Allderdice High School, PA (.pdf/1.51MB)

This course is taught at a comprehensive urban high school where the teacher includes materials that resonate with students’ experiences and backgrounds whenever possible. This is a mixed- skill classroom, so the teacher relies on differentiated instruction to ensure all students succeed.


Exam Information

Practice Exam

A full AP U.S. History Practice Exam (.pdf/7.36MB) demonstrates what to expect on the exam.

Note: An updated version of the practice exam reflecting the new framework and updated rubrics will be available soon.

Secure Questions

Teachers can access two sets of additional practice exam questions – including long essay, multiple-choice, and short-answer questions covering Periods 1 through 9 – through their AP Course Audit accounts. To access the files, teachers should log in and click the Secure Documents link in the Resources section of their Course Status page.

About the Exam

The AP U.S. History Exam Page gives a detailed breakdown of format, content, and past exams. 

Rubrics

The rubrics for the AP history document-based questions and long essay questions (.pdf/555KB) have been improved based on feedback from AP U.S. History teachers and AP Readers. The rubrics continue to use an analytic structure, but the definitions within that structure have been refined to be clearer and more precise. In addition, modifications to the structure of the rubrics change how points are assigned during the scoring of student essays.


Professional Development

Visit AP U.S. History Professional Development for more information about professional development opportunities.