Tips for AP History Study

Tips for AP History Study

This article was contributed by the team at Fiveable.

How to Self Study for AP World History: Modern

So you want to self-study for AP World, but you aren’t sure where to start? Well, you’ve come to the right place! The difference between scores of 1s and 5s is in the methods you use to approach the exam. Here are the steps you should take to effectively study for the AP World exam and earn that fantastic 5!✍️

Look At And Use The Course Outline From The College Board Website

With all your notes and your textbook, all the information presented in them may seem overwhelming. The College Board course description is your best friend in learning which topics will be covered by the exam. This document will provide a comprehensive description of the skills and content you need to know for the exam. The point of the course description is to establish a starting place and act as a guide for key points for the final exam. Make sure to cover each key concept and main point in the College Board Description while you study!

It would be helpful to use the College Board’s course description to create your own doc or notes describing what you need to learn before the exam. This will aid in keeping track of what you know and what you still need to review.

Buy an AP World History Prep Book

Although your school provides a textbook that covers all the material within AP World, a prep book is a wonderful way to prepare for what the exam expects of you. The best method that works for any AP class is to read a chapter and then review the same material in the prep book directly after.

Prep books contain an array of useful practice questions including multiple-choice, short answers (SAQs), long essay questions (LEQs), and document-based questions (DBQs) across each unit. Take the time to answer these as if they were on a real exam. That way, you’ll have a better sense of where you need to focus your study efforts.

TIP:  When writing the SAQs, DBQs, and LEQs, do so in the time frame that AP gives you, so that you continue to develop your timed writing skills.

Studying with your textbook, notes, and review books can seem very overwhelming. It is important that you cover everything lightly and make notes after each chapter of what to study later. Avoid spending too much time in the review book; see it as a supplement rather than a Holy Grail. Do not wait until the last minute to open the review book either.

👉Check out this Fiveable article for a comprehensive review of each prep book to find the best one for you!

Use Online Resources As A Supplement.

When looking at online resources as a supplement, stay away from just Googling topics or using Wikipedia. Some sites are better than others. Wikipedia isn’t bad, it just goes into way too much depth, which will only become confusing and overwhelming. AP World focuses on overall themes and patterns, making it hard to just randomly Google, especially since this 2019-2020 year marks a considerable change in AP World (starting from 2500 CE, instead of from 200,000 years ago).


Fiveable offers fantastic resources such as weekly live reviews, blog posts, and study resources made by specific instructors and knowledgeable students. There’s information about the exam, very detailed but fun unit outlines, trivia, and advice from past students.

🤩Click here for all of Fiveable’s FREE AP World study materials!


This outlet is a great resource. There are many respected AP World content creators. Make sure their videos are either updated or that you can skip the time periods you do not need to know anymore.

  • Fiveable AP World History
  • CrashCourse World History
  • Adam Norris or Steve Heimler

See Also

Freemanpedia– created by an AP World teacher who adapted to the new course content. It is very detailed, yet easy to read. The time periods are sectioned off, with each time period beginning with a summary, then diving deep into events, people, etc. with colorful pictures and video links.

Make A Study Schedule

You might be wondering how you can squeeze in all this self-studying before the exam. To avoid any panic, you must make a study schedule. Once you have thought of and taken note of what you need to cover, divide it all up into a schedule. Keeping a steady pace is a paramount aspect of this course. This course contains a ton of information, so it is important that you don’t fall behind or cram.

Also, find a place to study free of distractions. When using self-study methods, distractions can become common, especially when using technology.

A consistent study space has been shown to be very effective. You could study in any place you feel comfortable, like your room, the library, your aunt’s house, a coffee shop, etc. A consistent place to study reinforces keeping your study schedule and keeps you motivated as a result.

Tip:  The AP World History review books provide detailed study schedules based on how much time you have before the exam.

Additional Tips:

  • Before taking the AP exam, you must make use of practice exams found on the College Board website. Even though the AP World Exam has recently cut out time before 1200 CE, you can easily answer every other question.
  • You shouldn’t think of the AP World History exam as a memorization test, or you may have trouble with it. This course isn’t strictly memorization, it’s an understanding of the broader concepts and patterns/themes of history.
  • Make sure you practice DBQs and LEQs often. These are the last two parts of the written section, and many grow tired after all the multiple-choice and SAQs.
  • For the day before the AP Exam, get a good night’s sleep. Do not spend all night cramming or panicking. If you follow a study schedule and these steps, you will be set for the exam.
  • Pack a few #2 pencils and blue or black pens the night before the exam. You are also allowed a non-electronic watch, a water bottle, and snacks for the breaks.

Hopefully, this guide provided you with some top tips and tricks for your AP World Self-Studying! Good luck as you continue your exam prep! Happy Studying!



Joy Capps is a homeschool bookworm residing in the mountains of western North Carolina. The only one who loves books more is her 16-year-old daughter. They both enjoy perusing old bookstores for treasures and sniffing books. Her son who is 18 has special needs, is the social butterfly of the family and has never met a stranger. Although she is originally from South Dakota she now calls North Carolina her home and she and her family love exploring the great outdoors. Her family has been homeschooling since 2005.

September 15, 2020


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