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APUSH Introduction

The AP U.S. History course focuses on developing students’ understanding of American history from approximately 1491 to the present. The course has students investigate the content of U.S. history for significant events, individuals, developments, and processes in nine historical periods, and develop and use the same thinking skills and methods (analyzing primary and secondary sources, making historical comparisons, chronological reasoning, and argumentation) employed by historians when they study the past. The course also provides seven themes (American and national identity; migration and settlement; politics and power; work, exchange, and technology; America in the world; geography and the environment; and culture and society) that students explore throughout the course in order to make connections among historical developments in different times and places.


The AP U.S. History Exam is 3 hours and 15 minutes long and includes both a 105-minute multiple-choice/short-answer section and a 90-minute free-response section. Each section is divided into two parts, as shown in the table below. Student performance on these four parts will be compiled and weighted to determine an AP Exam score.


Exam Breakdown


Question Type

Number of Questions


Percentage of Total Exam Score


Part A: Multiple-choice questions



Part B: Short-answer questions

55 questions






4 questions

55 minutes






50 minutes









Part A: Document-based question




Part B: Long essay question

1 question







1 question (chosen from a pair)

55 minutes







35 minutes









Thematic Learning Objectives

Thematic Learning Objectives

  1. American and National Identity
  2. Politics and Power
  3. Work, Exchange, and Technology
  4. Culture and Society
  5. Migration and Settlement
  6. Geography and the Environment
  7. America in the World

These themes focus on major historical issues and changes, helping students connect the historical content they study to broad developments and processes that have emerged over centuries in what has become the United States.