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AP Art History

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AP Art History

This article is part of the
Advanced Placement series.
General exam structure    •    Awards
Current subjects:
In development:
Former subjects:

Advanced Placement Art History (AP Art History) is an Advanced Placement Art History course and exam offered by College Board. AP Art History is designed to allow students to examine major forms of artistic expression relevant to a variety of cultures evident in wide variety of periods from present times into the past. Students acquire an ability to examine works of art critically, with intelligence and sensitivity, and to articulate their thoughts and experiences. The main topic is European Art, with focuses on African, Hindu, South and East Asian, and Islamic Art. Pre-Historic art has been removed from the curriculum. Starting in the 2015-2016 school year, College Board has introduced a new curriculum and exam for students to apply art historical skills to questions.[1]


  • Topics 1
  • Exam 2
  • Scoring 3
  • Grade distribution 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


The ETS's outline for the exam is as follows:[2]

Topic Percent
Ancient through Medieval
  • Greece and Rome: 10 - 15%
  • Early Christian, Byzantine, Early Medieval: 5 - 10%
  • Romanesque: 3 - 7%
  • Gothic: 7 - 10%
Renaissance to Present
  • Fourteenth through Sixteenth Centuries: 12 - 17%
  • Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries: 10 - 15%
  • Nineteenth Century: 10 - 15%
  • Twentieth Century: 10 - 15%
Beyond European Tradition
  • Africa (including Egypt), the Americas, Asia, Near East, Oceania, and global Islamic tradition


The AP Art History exam is divided into two sections: multiple choice, and free-response, with both sections having two parts.

The multiple choice section includes 115 questions that must be answered in 60 minutes. In Part A, students have 20 minutes to answer five sets of questions based on color images. In Part B, there are 85 questions that must be answered in 40 minutes, some of which do not pertain to any specific image, and involve the basic recalling of facts. Other questions, refer to black and white images within the test booklet.

The free-response section includes two 30-minute essay questions (Part A) and six 10-minute essay questions (Part B). In Part A, Students must respond to the prompts, citing two examples of works of art that reflect the prompt's theme. In Part B, each short essay question is based on a work of art and / or quotation from a primary source / document. For quotation-based questions, students must select an appropriate work of art to analyze.


The multiple choice section of the exam is worth 40% of a student's score. The free-response is worth 60%. Each correctly answered multiple choice question is worth one point. As of 2011, wrong and omitted questions do not affect the raw score.[3] For the free-response section, the six short answers are worth 35% of the total grade, and each is graded on a scale of 0 to 4. Finally, the two long essays are each graded on a scale of 0 to 9, totaling 25% of the grade.

While the criteria varies from year to year, receiving a "5" from the ETS usually entails earning around 70% of the total points on the test, or having a raw score of 140.

Grade distribution

AP Art History Test Grade Distribution:[4]
Final Score 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
5 12.1% 12.4% 11.9% 12.1% 10.1%
4 21.6% 22.4% 21.5% 20.4% 20.5%
3 26.5% 25.2% 27.5% 27.2% 27.1%
2 19.0% 18.7% 19.1% 18.7% 20.4%
1 20.8% 21.3% 20.0% 21.5% 21.9%
Mean Score 2.85 2.86 2.86 2.82
Number of Students 21,643 22,650 22,723 23,213


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External links

  • AP Art History at
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