Glossary of Terms for AP® Students and Teachers

If you are new to AP®, don’t get confused by all the insider lingo and acronyms. Check out this AP® Glossary of Terms so you know the difference between APUSH and WHAP.

AP® Capstone

This is a two-year program. You complete part one by taking AP® Seminar, usually in grade 10 or 11. If you score a 3 or higher, you can continue to take AP® Research the following year. You cannot take AP® Research without taking (and scoring well on) AP® Seminar first. If you score a 3 or higher on AP® Research, you will receive an AP® Capstone Certificate. If, in addition, you score a 3 or higher on four or more AP® Exams, you will receive an AP® Capstone Diploma.

AP® Central

This is a section on College Board’s website dedicated to everything students or teachers need or need to know about AP® courses and Exams. You can find it here:

AP® Classroom

In order to register for an AP® course or Exam, AP® students will need to join their class section online; they can do so through AP® Classroom. This is also a place where teachers can assign online homework and drills, and students can access resources for their class. To sign into AP® classroom, students must sign up or log into their MyAP account.


AP® International Diploma abbreviation. This is a certificate (recognized worldwide) awarded to students who have achieved a 3 or higher on 5 or more AP® Exams.


AP® English Language and Composition abbreviation


AP® English Literature and Composition abbreviation

AP® Reading

There is an annual AP® reading held after all AP® Exams have been completed. It usually takes place over a couple of weeks in June. At this event, students’ AP® Exam papers are scored and compared by thousands of AP® readers (appointed AP® teachers and education specialists) to make sure that grading is fair and equal across the board.


AP® Environmental Science abbreviation


AP® Human Geography abbreviation


AP® U.S. History abbreviation


AP® European History abbreviation


AP® World History abbreviation


Document-Based Question. This is a type of free-response essay question you will have to answer on the three AP® History Exams: AP® U.S. History, AP® European History, and AP® World History.

For the DBQ, you will have one hour, including 15 minutes of reading time, to analyze a set of historical documents (usually 6 or 7), which you have to use to help you answer the essay prompt.

The documents provided could either be in text or image format. Past examples of DBQ documents include, but are not limited to:

  • Constitutional texts
  • Diary excerpts
  • Political cartoons
  • Speech transcripts
  • Maps


Free Response Question. This refers to any question on an AP® Exam that is NOT multiple-choice. You have to come up with a totally original response to the question rather than selecting one answer from a set of answers provided.


Long Essay Question. This is the 40-minute essay on section II of the APUSH, AP® Euro, and AP® World Exams. Your score on this question will count for 15% of your total score on these exams.


MyAP is the go-to online portal for AP® students and teachers. This is where you can register for AP® classes and Exams and access some AP® resources and tools, including AP® Classroom.

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