Is AP European History easy or hard? We reveal the AP Euro 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 European History Easy Or Hard?
AP European History is considered quite hard, with class alumnae rating it 6.3/10 for overall difficulty (the 8th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed).
The pass rate is slightly lower than other AP classes, with 59% graduating with a 3 or higher.
AP Euro is a relatively small class (74,202 entries last year), and 91% would recommend the class.
Whilst AP Euro is rated as quite hard, many alumnae reviewers really enjoyed the course, and found it manageable with consistent study, good study methods, and a good overview of the big picture.
You can see how AP Euro compares to other classes for difficulty in the below chart:
We’ve highlighted AP European History and related history classes (US History and World 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 European History – As Rated By Class Alumnae
AP European History is considered quite hard, with class alumnae rating it 6.3/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 8th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.
What Is the AP European History Pass Rate 2021?
The AP Euro 2021 pass rate 59%, slightly lower than the all-AP-class average of 64%.
The highest percentage of candidates received a 2 (30%), a significantly larger figure than the all-AP average. The percentage of candidates who passed with a 3 or 4 fell in line with the all-AP average, whereas a slightly lower number than average (14%) attained a 5.
AP Euro Pass Rate / Score Distribution Over Time: 2021, 2020, 2019…
The AP European History score distribution has not varied significantly over the past 5 years of exams. The pass rate has held steady at approximately 58-59%.
Is AP European History Time Consuming To Study: As Rated By AP Euro Alumnae
AP Euro 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 European History was 6.7/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.3/10).
Is AP Euro Easy or Hard To Self-Study
AP European 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 European History was 6.6/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.7/10).
How Hard Is AP European History: 88 Real AP Euro Alumnae Share Their Experiences
If you’re looking forward to taking AP European History, it’s important to take both the positive and negative feedback in context. There are multiple factors that could contribute to a great or poor experience of the class, such your teacher and your personal preferences as a learner.
An impressive 91% of AP Euro alumnae would recommend the class.
The majority of the reviews focus on course experience, the importance of overall concepts, the need for steady preparation, and helpful study methods.
1. Some students really enjoy AP Euro, others struggled
“Incredibly fun and interesting class, despite the huge and very dense amount of material” – AP European History Score: 5
“The class wasn’t that bad for me and my friends, but a lot of people had difficulties. There were lectures almost everyday and activities on the others. The only homework was to read the textbook and do a reading guide. The tests were very easy to score over 100% on because they all had a nice curve. My teacher was one of the best AP teachers at my school so that helped a lot.” – AP European History Score: 4
“By the end of the year, the course was very fulfilling to complete. If you enjoy the subject material, than the course will fly by.” – AP Euro Score: 4
“I definitely found the AP Euro experience worthwhile. While studying, I found myself wishing that I [paid] more attention in class because the material is actually interesting (seems crazy, but it’s true). … Euro is a very time consuming class, even if you barely cared like me, but the exam requires less preparation than you may think. … And don’t forget to view all information through the lens of the “Big Ideas” of Euro (interaction of Europe and the world etc)!” – AP European History Score: 5
2. Opinions on the course difficulty are divided
“I self studied for this test and it was genuinely difficult, but it is definitely manageable if you pace yourself right. In spite of this, I did not have very much background in Euro and had to spend a lot of time reviewing … Do not underestimate the exam. The essays will be manageable if you know your rubric but the MC sucks and is quite difficult.” – AP European History Score: 5
“This is an extremely easy class if you’ve taken any other history AP’s (APUSH especially), and the rubric for essay’s is really explicit about how to get full points.” – AP European History Score: 2
“Study, study, study! If you did well in world, this class is for you. … Would recommend especially to liberal arts majors who want the most rigorous course that stays relevant to their major, since Euro is the hardest AP class that fits into that category.” – AP Euro Score: 4
“Pretty easy and a good extra AP test you can take if you’re already in AP World. I didn’t take the class or self study, and using my APWH knowledge still passed.” – AP European History Score: 3
“Pace yourself with DBQ. If you like history, this is easy. Make sure to grasps the advanced concepts and not just memorize dates” – AP European History Score: 5
“The course is really lengthy and difficult if you know nothing about Europe but was fun and interesting at times.” – AP European History Score: 4
3. AP European History is a complex course … so knowing the bigger picture is important
“Read your textbook thoroughly. History in general is a complex study, and reading your textbook thoroughly is the best way to firmly grasp its nuances. Alongside this, have the format of the test and the rubrics for the DBQs/LEQs memorized.” – AP Euro Score: 5
“Rather than memorize facts, make connections with events and make sure you’re able to explain European countries’ relationships with each other and the rest of the world.” – AP European History Score: 5
“Honestly, focus on the major points instead of trying to remember little details of history.” – AP European History Score: 4
“Know the big pictures in each time period, and know how to connect each time period to each other. Focus less on little details, and more on the bigger idea of what’s going on.” – AP Euro Score: 5
“Focus almost solely on politics, not war strategies or social movements or even art that much. Also, I think they’re taking the Renaissance out of the Curriculum this year (2018-19), but it wasn’t even mentioned on the 2017-2018 test” – AP European History Score: 5
“Be prepared to have not only a wide range of knowledge on all the topics covered, but also to have a large depth of knowledge as well. … Be prepared to do a lot of home studying because the course is very fast paced. The teachers help as well. … it doesn’t matter how good of a self-studier you are, it is very difficult to learn 600-700+ years of history and have as much knowledge as they expect you to have on the AP exam by self-studying.” – AP Euro Score: 5
“Know about a lot of obscure topics from different times in history because they tend to show up on the exam.” – AP European History Score: 4
What Does It Take To Succeed: How To Study For The AP Euro Exam
What is AP European History? Course Outline & Requirements
According to College Board:
“In AP European History, students investigate significant events, individuals, developments, and processes from approximately 1450 to the present. Students develop and use the same skills and methods employed by historians.”
There are no prerequisites AP Euro. Students are expected to read college-level textbooks.
You will develop skills in:
- Identifying and explaining historical concepts, sources and situations
- Comparing and explaining primary and secondary source evidence and arguments
- Contextualizing and making connections between historical developments and processes
- Constructing, corroborating and supporting evidence-based historical arguments
- Using reasoning about comparison, causation, continuity and change
The exam consists of one 3 hour 15 minute exam, in three sections. Section 1 consists of 40% (55 minutes) of multiple-choice questions (MCQs); Section 2 is 20% (40 minutes) with 3 short answer questions; and Section 3 is 40% (1 hour 40 minutes) for 2 free-response questions: 25% document-based (DBQs) and 15% long essay (LEQs).
For more details, see: College Board’s AP European History course page.
Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From AP European History Test Assessors
College Board released the following official comments about the 2021 exam results:
- “As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.”
- “AP European History students scored similarly across all periods of the course, a credit to teachers who are so ably balancing the various epochs and geographies from the Renaissance to the present, from Italy to England.”
- “Students performed best on questions related to the themes of economic/commercial developments and cultural/intellectual developments.”
- Candidates “scored less well on questions about the theme of interactions between Europe and the world.”
- “Students scored impressively high on multiple-choice questions related to Skill 3, Claims and Evidence in Sources; 39% of students answered most or all of such questions correctly.”
- “Many students also demonstrated solid proficiency on multiple-choice questions focused on Skill 5: Making Connections, which involves identifying patterns of causation, continuity, and change.”
- “Students scored lowest on multiple-choice questions related to Skill 4: Contextualization.”
- “The highest performance in the free-response section was on Short Answer Question 1 in which students evaluated a quite difficult primary source passage: de Stael’s commentary on revolution. A massive 30% of AP European History students achieved perfect scores on this question as they described de Stael’s argument, summoned evidence to support it, while also identifying its limitations. Students’ work on this primary source was often very impressive.”
- “The lowest performance within this year’s AP European History Exam was on Short Answer Question 3 about religion in daily life, 1450–1700. 12% of students who chose this question earned perfect scores on it and 28% received 0 points.”
For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time on the period 1450-1700, themes of Europe’s international interactions, practicing short answer questions, and Skill 4 “Contextualization”.
For more details, see: College Board’s AP European History 2021 exam results page.
How To (Self) Study AP Euro: Advice From Class Alumnae
There’s a lot of memorization involved – but don’t forget the key concepts!
“You just need to study. It’s a lot of memorization. Also learn how to write an essay” – AP European History Score: 3
“If you aren’t going to read the book, read the chapter summaries-they help a lot. Euro is more memorization heavy than most history courses (i.e WHAP which is a lot more focused on trends and big picture ideas, as well as important details).” – AP European History Score: 5
“There are many names and events to learn. Make sure to note the significance of each name and event. Be aware of how it affects the general scheme of politics, economics, social constructs etc.” – AP European History Score: 4
“Pace yourself with DBQ. If you like history, this is easy. Make sure to grasps the advanced concepts and not just memorize dates” – AP Euro Score: 5
“BASE YOUR STUDYING OFF THE KEY CONCEPTS, PLEASE! … Spend equal amounts of time studying each time period, and please don’t gloss over period four, even if your class teacher rushes through it right before AP exams.” – AP European History Score: 5
It’s important to practice for the exam regularly
“Vocab is very important for FRQs. Make a quizlet every unit and it will pay off in the end. Be sure to take some MC practices because the format is a bit wonky. It is 100% necessary for you to have the DBQ and LEQ rubrics memorized when heading into this exam.” – AP European History Score: 5
“READ! THE! BOOK! and also do a LOT of DBQs for practice!” – AP European History Score: 5
“KNOW HOW TO WRITE YOUR LEQs, SAQs, and DBQs” – AP European History Score: 3
“Do lots of writing practice under timed conditions! Get that DBQ perfect” – AP European History Score: 5
“DBQS! Write them, analyze them, MEMORIZE THE RUBRIC, go over them with your teacher or your friends, just make sure that you do not skimp out on them! Also, focus less on the tiny details and more on the bigger picture.” – AP European History Score: 5
Find some study methods that work well for you
“Flash cards will become your best friend!!” – AP European History Score: 4
“Make flash cards online … If you have friends in the class(unlike me), play study games with them like Kahoot.” – AP Euro Score: 3
“Make flashcards for everything! Dates, ideologies, people, you name it- it’ll come in handy to have those ready on the FRQs. Make a timeline of major events and make sure you know it, at the bare minimum, before your test. Also, now’s the time to learn how to write an essay if you haven’t already.” – AP European History Score: 5
“Making timelines, venn diagrams, flow chats etc will help you immensely.” – AP European History Score: 4
“Try using timelines and graphic organizers to organize your info! Also, start studying early, it’s SO HARD cramming all this history knowledge last minute. Study groups and discussion help a bunch too.” – AP Euro Score: 4
“I would also recommend to review each chapter throughout the year instead of waiting until the end like me.’ – AP European History Score: 4
Best books and test prep resources for AP European History
Other popular AP Euro test prep / review books and resources for include:
Find out how AP European 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!