*Updated April 3, 2020
The College Board has modified the AP U.S. History (APUSH) exam, and all other AP exams, in response to the disruption caused by COVID-19.
The APUSH exam for 2020 will be shorter, administered online, cover less material, and have a different format than previous tests.
Here are the key changes you need to know to do well in the upcoming APUSH exam.
Will I get AP credit for the modified APUSH exam?
Students who take the 2020 APUSH exam will be eligible for college credit, according to the College Board: “Colleges support this solution and are committed to ensuring that AP students receive the credit they have worked this year to earn. For decades, colleges have accepted a shortened AP Exam for college credit when groups of students have experienced emergencies.”
As in previous years, a student must obtain a score of 3, 4 or 5 to be eligible for college credit.
How long is the 2020 APUSH exam?
The online 2020 APUSH exam will be just 45 minutes long, instead of the three hours and 15 minutes it took in previous years, and can be taken at home (if schools are still closed on exam day) or at school.
What is the APUSH exam format for 2020?
The 2020 APUSH exam will be an open book/open note exam based entirely on free-response questions. There will be no multiple choice questions as there were in the past.
What device should I use to take the 2020 APUSH exam?
You can take the exam on any device you have access to, including a computer, tablet or a smartphone. You should make the determination of which device works best for you beforehand.
You are also allowed to submit a photo of your handwritten work.
What if I don’t have internet access?
If you need access to the internet or a working computer, contact the College Board here for help. The College Board is committed to making the 2020 APUSH exam work for all students:
“We recognize that the digital divide could prevent some low-income and rural students from participating. Working with partners, we will invest so that these students have the tools and connectivity they need to review AP content online and take the exam.”
What will be tested on the 2020 APUSH exam?
You will be tested only on material from Units 1 through 7, so you should be prepared to answer questions on these topics:
- Unit 1: Period 1: 1491-1607
- Unit 2: Period 2: 1607-1754
- Unit 3: Period 3: 1754-1800
- Unit 4: Period 4: 1800-1848
- Unit 5: Period 5: 1844-1877
- Unit 6: Period 6: 1865-1898
- Unit 7: Period 7: 1890-1945
What will not be tested on the 2020 APUSH exam?
You won’t be tested on material from Units 8 and 9.
- Unit 8: Period 8: 1945-1980
- Unit 9: Period 9: 1980-Present
Are exam question types and sample questions available for the 2020 APUSH exam?
The APUSH exam will consist of just one modified document-based question (DBQ), which will include five, instead of the usual seven, historical sources. Check this rubric for details on the scoring criteria and here for a description of the question.
You will have 45 minutes to read and respond to the question and another five minutes to upload your response.
What’s the 2020 APUSH exam date and time?
The College Board is offering two exam dates for each AP exam this year.
The APUSH exam is scheduled for Friday, May 15 at these times:
- Hawaii Time: 8 a.m.
- Alaska Time: 10 a.m.
- Pacific Time: 11 a.m.
- Mountain Time: 12 p.m.
- Central Time: 1 p.m.
- Eastern Time: 2 p.m.
The APUSH make-up exam will be held on Wednesday, June 3 at these times:
- Hawaii Time: 6 a.m.
- Alaska Time: 8 a.m.
- Pacific Time: 9 a.m.
- Mountain Time: 10 a.m.
- Central Time: 11 a.m.
- Eastern Time: 12 p.m.
Note: Unless you have a scheduling conflict, you should plan on taking your APUSH exam on the primary date. This way, you can take it on the make-up date if it turns out you can’t take it on the primary date.
Is the College Board offering any free APUSH exam review courses?
The College Board is committed to making free resources available to students through exam day.
Note: The AP review courses will also cover topics that have been excluded from this year’s exams.
What are my other options for preparing for the 2020 APUSH exam?
If you don’t have an APUSH review book already and can’t get it on time through Amazon, which has recently confirmed that even Amazon Prime deliveries of non-essential goods could be delayed a month, try eBay or other alternate sources.
And don’t worry if you have problems getting your book delivered early enough to help you with your prep. There are online resources that you can use to help you prepare for the 2020 APUSH exam.
In partnership with the College Board, Khan Academy provides an official APUSH course that comes with free instructional videos, articles, and practice exercises created by current and former AP teachers. In addition, Khan Academy offers free exam skills and strategies.
In line with its mission to create inclusive and social learning experiences available to every student, Fiveable has a rich resource of free videos, trivia and study guides to offer students preparing for the APUSH exam.
In addition, Fiveable is offering a Cram Pass for just $35 per AP exam. This fee is further reduced when you purchase more Cram Passes — $50 for two AP exams and $60 for three AP exams. On top of that, students get a 10% discount with a special TUN coupon code — just enter “TUN10%” upon checkout to activate your discount.
And Fiveable also offers financial aid for students who can’t afford a Cram Pass.
The Cram Pass includes 10 live-streamed lessons or cram sessions, which are about an hour long but may sometimes be longer if there are extra questions from students, downloadable replays, and practice prompts and feedback. Also, the night before the exam, Fiveable will host a live open forum Q&A to help students prepare. Fiveable cram teachers will tailor their sessions to align with the changes in the 2020 APUSH exam.
For now, cram sessions are scheduled for every Tuesday at 9 p.m., starting on March 31. Fiveable will add May dates once the College Board announces the test date and add five stream dates on April 3.
According to Fiveable, 92% of students who use Fiveable to help them prepare for their AP exams pass their exams with 70% earning a 4 or higher score.
The Princeton Review offers a 6-Hour Cram AP Cram Course for the APUSH exam. The course covers significant events and people in U.S. history from earliest times up to the present time, and reviews the historical periods and themes you need to understand for a great score.
The course, which comes with a book, can be ordered online for $149. For now, there are three available Cram Course schedules.
- April 25 & 26, 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. (Eastern time)
- April 28 & 30, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. (Eastern time)
- May 2 & 3, 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. (Eastern time)
The Princeton Review also offers private tutoring, available both in-person or online, for a fee starting at $167 an hour. If you decide to go with this personalized option, expert tutors will work with you to “make a plan, set goals, and exceed them.” The Princeton Review guarantees that if you’re not 100% satisfied, you will be matched with another tutor and get your next lesson for free.
If you’re taking more than one AP exam in 2020, check here for details on other revised AP exams.
Susan Chu is a writer and editor who likes to write about trends in higher education.