The Changes to the 2020 AP US History Test & 3 Tips to Help

A summary of the changes to the 2020 APUSH Exam:

  • Section 1B contains the first change: Here you’ll have 40 minutes to tackle 3 short-answer questions. This will account for 20% of your overall score. You’ll be asked to analyze historical sources (including texts, images, maps, etc.), interpretations and propositions.

  • The first question will focus on historical events or developments that occurred between 1754 and 1980. It will also include 1 to 2 secondary sources.

  • The second question also concerns an historical development between 1754 and 1980, but you’ll be provided with a single primary source.

  • The third question allows you to choose between two question options: The first of them will concern a historical process that occurred between 1491 and 1877. The second question will concern an event that occurred between 1864 and 2001. Neither question requires you to consult sources.

  • Section 2A will consist of a single, document-based question (DBQ). You’ll have an hour, including a 15-minute period that you may allocate to reading the question and the documents, and your response will make up 25% of your total score. There will be seven different documents that offer a range of perspectives on a particular historical event. The documents could be any combination of written, visual, and quantitative materials.

  • After taking time to analyze the documents, you’re to develop an argument that’s supported by the documents supplied. Potential topic will focus on historical events/developments that occurred between 1754 and 1980.

  • Section 2B consists of a long essay, and you’ll have 40 minutes to craft your response to the prompt. This final section will account for 15% of your total score. You’ll have to analyze and explain an important issue in U.S. history and to construct a strong argument that’s bolstered by historical evidence.

  • In this section, you’ll get to choose one of three questions: The first will concern an historical development that occurred between 1491 and 1800, the second between 1800 and 1898, and the third between 1890 and 2001.

  • Regardless of the question you choose, if you write well, demonstrate sound reasoning, and meaningfully cover the four “Cs” — comparison, causation, continuity, and change — you’ll earn all six of the possible points.


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