Free-Response Essays on the AP® European History Exam

The AP® European History exam tests students on their knowledge of the cultural, social, and political history of Europe from 1450 to the modern day. As part of the exam, students must complete two free-response essays. They are:

  • A document-based analysis
  • A long essay

With all things history-related, though, there’s a little more to the story than that. It’s important to take a look at what’s going on in each essay section to get a better understanding of the test. So to prepare you for the exam, let’s jump into each section, how long you’ll have, and how much of the final score it accounts for. To start, let’s take a look at an overview of the AP® European History exam as a whole.

What’s on the AP® European History exam?

The AP® European History exam takes a look at “the cultural, economic, political, and social developments that have shaped Europe from c. 1450 to the present” (CollegeBoard).

The course itself covers 9 units. They are:

  1. Renaissance and Exploration
  2. Age of Reformation
  3. Absolutism and Constitutionalism
  4. Scientific, Philosophical, and Political Developments
  5. Conflict, Crisis, and Reaction in the Late 18th Century
  6. Industrialization and Its Effects
  7. 19th-Century Perspectives and Political Developments
  8. 20th-Century Global Conflicts
  9. Cold War and Contemporary Europe

Students have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. The exam is made up of a 95-minute section of multiple-choice and short answer questions, and a 100-minute writing section where students will answer two essay prompts.

Here is what the format of the AP® European History exam looks like—along with how much of the exam score is dependent on each section:

 SECTION I SECTION II

Part A: Multiple-choice (55 minutes)

  • 55 questions
  • 40% of total exam score

Part A: Document analysis (60 minutes, including 15 minutes for reading)

  • 1 question
  • 25% of total exam score

Part B: Short answer (40 minutes)

  • 3 questions
  • 20% of total exam score

Part B: Long essay (40 minutes)

  • 1 question
  • 15% of total exam score

Now that you know what to expect from the AP® European History exam as a whole, let’s jump into the free-response essay section.

Breakdown: Free response essays on the European History exam

Students are expected to write two essays:

  1. A document analysis
  2. A long essay based on an essay prompt.

Here’s an overview of the two questions students will face:

Document-Based Question (DBQ)

Length: 60 minutes

Worth: 25% of score

This section includes a 15-minute reading period. The exam presents students with 7 documents that provide different perspectives on a historical development or process between the years 1600 and 2001. Students must then develop an argument based on the documents as well as their own knowledge.

Long Essay Question (LEQ)

Length: 40 minutes

Worth: 15% of score

In this section, students have a choice of three different questions/essay prompts. They must pick one of them to answer.

The questions cover varying time periods. They are:

  • 1450–1700
  • 1648–1914
  • 1815–2001

Students must develop their argument and support it with evidence.

Prepare with FREE practice tests

The best way to get better at something is by practicing.

That’s why it’s important that you take practice tests to help you get better at the AP® European History Exam. Only then can you expect to get a good score and improve it.

That’s why we want to help. Marco Learning has created a host of resources to help you prepare for AP® exams,  including video lessons, study guides, drills, and, most importantly, practice tests.

Need AP® Essay help? Check out our NEW AP® Essay Review. Get fast feedback on all the questions from 3 full-length practice tests from AP® Experts. Learn more.