AP European History

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AP European History introduces students to cultural, economic, political, and social developments that played a fundamental role in shaping the world in which they live, encouraging them to develop and use the same thinking skills and methods employed by historians. Students investigate the content of European history in four chronological periods (c. 1450 to c. 1648, c. 1648 to c. 1815, c. 1815 to c. 1914, and c. 1914 to the present): within each period, key and supporting concepts organize and prioritize historical developments. According to surveys of comparable curricula at four-year colleges and universities, AP European History is equivalent to a two-semester introductory college course. For more information on AP European History, visit the course home page.

Thematic Learning Objectives

The thematic learning objectives describe, at a high level, the knowledge colleges expect students to develop in the AP European History course in order to be qualified for credit and placement. The 69 learning objectives for the course are grouped into five themes that focus on major historical issues and developments:

  • Interaction of Europe and the World
  • Poverty and Prosperity
  • Objective Knowledge and Subjective Visions
  • States and Other Institutions of Power
  • Individual and Society

These themes help students connect the historical content they study to broad trends and processes that have emerged over centuries. The learning objectives within each theme clearly state what students should know and be able to do by the end of the course.

Historical Thinking Skills

Historical thinking skills (.pdf/493KB) provide opportunities for students to learn to think like historians, most notably to analyze evidence about the past and to create persuasive historical arguments. Focusing on these practices enables teachers to create learning opportunities for students that emphasize the conceptual and interpretive nature of history. The nine historical thinking skills that students should develop in all AP history courses are grouped into four categories:

Analyzing Historical Sources and Evidence

  • Analyzing Evidence: Content and Sourcing
  • Interpretation

Making Historical Connections

  • Comparison
  • Contextualization
  • Synthesis

Chronological Reasoning

  • Causation
  • Patterns of Continuity and Change Over Time
  • Periodization

Creating and supporting a historical argument

  • Argumentation

About the AP European History Exam

The AP Exam questions measure students’ achievement of the thematic learning objectives, use of the historical thinking skills, and understanding of all four periods of European history. Each exam question will explicitly target one or more learning objectives and the corresponding parts of the concept outline. For detailed information on the exam, go to the course and exam description (.pdf/7.18MB) and exam information page.

AP European History Development Committee

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Kim M. Jago, Tampa Preparatory School, Tampa, Florida
  • Victoria E. Thompson, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
  • Committee Members

    • Jennifer Foray, Prudue University, West Lafayette, Indiana
    • Carolyn C. Lougee, Stanford University, Palo Alto, California
    • Aaron D. Marcarelli, Oaks Christian School , Westlake Village, California
    • Karen Phillips, Pope John Paul II High School, Hendersonville, Tennessee
    • Annemarie Sammartino, Oberlin College, Oberlin, Ohio

    College Board Advisor

    • Colin Baker, Blacksburg High School, Blacksburg, Virginia

    Chief Reader

    • Paul Deslandes, University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont