Is AP Art History easy or hard? We reveal the difficulty rating, based on a unique combination of 2021 pass rate data, and 2,627 class reviews from real AP alumnae collected by r/APStudents.

Is AP Art History Easy Or Hard?

AP Art History is considered moderate difficulty, with class alumnae rating it 5.2/10 for overall difficulty (the 14th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed).

The pass rate is slightly lower than other AP classes, with 54% graduating with a 3 or higher.

AP Art History is a very small class (18,552 entries last year), and 92% would recommend the class.

Is AP Art History Easy or Hard – Difficulty Rating

You can see how AP Art History compares to other classes for difficulty in the below chart:

is AP Art History hard

We’ve highlighted AP Art History only – to see the full version of this chart, check out our article ranking ALL the AP classes from easy to hard.

How Difficult Is AP Art History – As Rated By Class Alumnae

AP Art History is considered moderate difficulty, with class alumnae rating it 5.2/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 14th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

AP Art History difficulty

What Is the AP Art History Pass Rate 2021?

The AP Art History 2021 pass rate was slightly lower than the all-AP-classes average, at 54%.

The highest percentage of candidates (30%) received a 2, and the lowest percentage (11%) attained a 5. The percentage of students passing with a 3 or 4  was in line with the all-AP average.

AP Art History pass rate

AP Art History Pass Rate / Score Distribution Over Time: 2021, 2020, 2019…

The AP Art History score distribution did not vary significantly between 2017 and 2020.

However in 2021, the pass rate fell by a substantial 14% from the 2020 results. The largest drop was the percentage of candidates passing with a 4, from 25% to 19%.

Is AP Art History Time Consuming To Study: As Rated By Alumnae

AP Art History is rated as quite time-intensive relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for time needed to study each class, with 1 = least time needed, 10 = most time. The average rating for AP Art History was 6.8/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.3/10).

Is AP Art History Easy or Hard To Self-Study

AP Art History is rated as quite hard to self-study relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for how easy each class is to self study, with 1 = easiest to self study, 10 = hardest to self study. The average rating for AP Art History was 6.6/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.7/10).

What Does It Take To Succeed: How To Study For The Exam

What is AP Art History? Course Outline & Requirements

According to College Board:

“Students cultivate their understanding of art history through analyzing works of art and placing them in historical context as they explore concepts like culture and cultural interactions, theories and interpretations of art, the impact of materials, processes, and techniques on art and art making, and understanding purpose and audience in art historical analysis.”

AP Art History is an introductory college-level course, equivalent to a two-semester survey course. It is organised into 10 units that focus on different periods of history.

There are no prerequisites for taking the course. Students are expected to read college-level textbooks.

You will develop “art historical thinking skills” in:

  • Visual, contextual, and comparative analysis
  • Understanding artistic traditions
  • Analysing and interpreting known and unknown artworks
  • Developing and supporting arguments in essay writing

The exam consists of one 3-hour exam, with 50% (60 minutes) consisting of 80 multiple-choice questions (MCQs), and 50% (120 minutes) comprised of six long and short free-response questions.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Art History course page.

Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From Test Assessors

College Board released the following official comments about the 2021 exam results:

Multiple-choice section

  • Students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than the free-response section.”
  • “This is the first year I’ve seen similarly strong student performance across every geographical region. In the past, students have frequently scored highest on African art; this year, we saw similarly strong performance on Pacific Art … Asian Art, Indigenous American Art, and Global Contemporary Art. Student performance was just slightly weaker on European Art than on other units.”
  • “The only idea students generally struggled with was Big Idea 2: Interactions with Other Cultures, in which students need to demonstrate an understanding of how one region’s art influenced or was influenced by other cultures.”
  • “Students generally did very well on skills 1–7, especially skill 5, visual analysis of unknown works. The most challenging skill for students was generally skill 3, comparison of works of art.”

Free- response section:

  • “For student performance, the high points of this year’s paper exam were 2 short essays that both happened to focus on works of art in Rome. … But otherwise, students really struggled with the free-response section on this year’s exam.”
  • “This repeats the pattern we saw in the multiple-choice section: many students had not developed an understanding this year of how the creation of specific works of art was influenced by other cultures.”

For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time on practising for the free-response section of the exam. You may want to pay extra attention to Skill 3: “Comparison of Works of Art”, with particular reference to Big Idea 2: “Interactions with Other Cultures”.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Art History 2021 exam results page.

Where next?

Find out how AP Art History compares to other classes: click here for an overview of all AP Classes ranked by difficulty, from easiest to hardest.

Wishing you every success in the class!


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