Is AP Human Geography easy or hard? We reveal the AP Human Geography 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 Human Geography Easy Or Hard?

AP Geography is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.1/10 for overall difficulty (the 25th-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 Human Geography is quite widely-taken (193,660 entries last year), and 91% would recommend the class.

Is AP Human Geography Easy or Hard – Difficulty Ratin

AP Human Geography is considered a great introductory AP class by class alumnae. It is a broad class, with some focus on vocab, memorisation and applying models, and requires substantial preparation.

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

AP Human Geography difficulty

We’ve highlighted AP Geography 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 Human Geograpgy – As Rated By Class Alumnae

AP Geography is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.1/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 25th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

What Is the AP Geography Pass Rate 2021?

The AP Human Geography 2021 pass rate was 54%, slightly lower than the all-AP-classes average.

The highest percentage of candidates (31%) received a 1, almost double the all-AP average. The remaining candidates were fairly evenly distributed between grades 2 and 5.

Ap Human Geography pass rate

AP Human Geography Pass Rate / Score Distribution Over Time: 2021, 2020, 2019…

The AP Geography score distribution has fluctuated slightly over the past 5 years of exams. 2018 and 2020 saw an increased pass rate compared to the surrounding years, with 2020 having the highest pass rate of 58%.

Is AP Human Geography Time Consuming To Study: As Rated By AP Geography Alumnae

AP Geography is rated as quite low study time required 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 Human Geography was 4.8/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.3/10).

Is AP Geography Easy or Hard To Self-Study

AP Human Geography is rated as quite easy 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 Human Geography was 4.3/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.7/10).

How Hard Is AP Human Geography: 188 Real AP Geography Alumnae Share Their Experiences

If you’re looking forward to taking AP Psychology, 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 as a particularly weak teacher and your personal preferences as a learner.

An impressive 91% of AP Psych alumnae would recommend the class.

The majority of the reviews focus on course enjoyment as a great introductory AP course, the importance of vocabulary and memorisation, and reminders to prepare thoroughly.

1.      Many students really enjoy AP Geography

“I thought the course content was interesting but it really depends who your teacher is and what your class environment’s like.” – AP Geography Score: 5

“Fun class, and Interesting Material.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Even though many say this is one of the easiest AP classes, from my experience, it was probably my favorite of the 6 I’ve taken so far! The material is very interesting and easy to grasp, even for a freshman or sophomore. Studying isn’t even necessary unless you’re pushing for a 5.” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

“I love politics and social science in general, so I really enjoyed this class. … I also do not struggle with memorization… so take this advice w/ a grain of salt. This class is very easy if you are dedicated and pay attention. If you have a great teacher like me, studying a lot isn’t required.“ – AP Geography Score: 5

“Loved taking this class in school! I didn’t read the textbook much at all, but I paid attention, did my school work, and earned a 5!” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“This course is fun. Don’t stress about it! I loved learning about things that are applicable to everyday life, and I left the class with so much information. The exam was easy, and that is coming from someone who never studied or paid attention in class half of the time. If you can take this, take it.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

2.      AP Human Geography is considered a great introductory/first AP

“This course is a good introduction to the world of AP testing. Some questions are general and only require basic knowledge, others are more specific. Know your models and vocab and you will know enough to get a 5. The FRQs are just BSing answers.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“I took this course as a freshman, and I think it was a great first AP course. More challenging than standard SS classes, but nothing too overwhelming.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“I personally think that HuG is a great AP introductory course. I took it freshman year and it gave me valuable insight into how I should study and more importantly, when I should start studying for the AP exam. It’s not too hard, but you do need to know the importance of people, all the various models (Bid-Rent Curve, CBD, etc.), and the huge amount of terms.” – APGeography Score: 4

“I took the class as a freshman but I still found it pretty easy. There are lots of different models and such you have to memorize in the class, so be ready to differencaite between them and who made them, particularly the Human Development Index. Hardest part of the class for me were the tests for naming the countries across the globe, and thats just because I’m trash at geography.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Kind of like a trial AP course, so treat it like one. Take time to experiment (especially if this is your first AP course) with note taking, but also BE SURE TO TAKE NOTES, especially for all your courses. The reason this is so easy to self-study is because everything is in the textbook. … Also pay attention to connections and global ideas. Focus on the people, this is HUMAN geography, after all.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Make sure to study the different models and know vocab terms and how they relate to the real world. This is a great first AP course to get you used to the format of an AP exam and the rigor required.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

3.      Many reviewers rate it as an easy course

“Not difficult for smart people. If you are average intelligence 30 mins a day will get you a 5.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“’This class is fairly easy compared to other AP classes. If you’re a straight-A student, then this class isn’t all that difficult as long as you’re willing to put in the work.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Even though it’s an easy class, you still need to keep up with the work and actually study the content or else the FRQ section will kick your ass.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“It’s not a hard class, took it freshmen year. My teacher made us do notecards for all of our vocabulary words which did help quite a bit.” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

“As a freshman, this was a pretty nice class. The content is hard to understand at first, but the more you pay attention in class the better you’ll do. Also, you’re going to need to self-study some content you don’t understand. I studied a lot because of COVID-19. It’s a nice introductory course to AP classes. It’s not easy, but gets you prepared for more difficult classes.” – AP Geography Score: 5

4.      A few students found it challenging (especially to self-study)

“This is not as easy to self-study as you think! There are a lot of terms and models to know. Be familiar with geography and global current events if you want to pass the exam.” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

“Understanding the concepts is easy, but remembering, applying and memorizing the very specific real world examples they apply to is difficult and requires lots of studying. The frqs were simple and general stuff last year that were easy compared to online practice tests and book reviews.” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

“Only take this class if you’re willing to put in a lot of your time and effort” – AP Geography Score: 2

“Know what score you want and put in time accordingly… You can get a 4 in this class with almost no effort, but getting a consistent 5 is a lot harder. I’d say average AP class, definitely harder than other AP Social Studies I’ve taken.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“It will be hard if you don’t catch up with your work” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

5.      Having some broad, common knowledge is important

“You don’t need in depth knowledge of anything tbh general unsure knowledge copped me a 5” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Most of it is common knowledge if you are interested in social sciences, just brush up on the models specific vocabulary for FRQ” – AP Geography Score: 4

“If you have a decent knowledge of geography and current events this course shouldn’t be hard for you. Just pay attention in class, I barely reviewed seriously for the exam and still got a 5 because most of it is just “common sense” type stuff.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Know how all of the concepts in the different units interconnect with each other. If you know this, you are headed for a 4 or 5 with the wind at your back.” – AP Geography Score: 5

“Try and study some physical geography while taking this course; it will be extremely helpful in some of the units (ex. agriculture).” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

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

What is AP Human Geography? Course Outline & Requirements

According to College Board:

“AP Human Geography introduces students to the systematic study of patterns and processes that have shaped human understanding, use, and alteration of Earth’s surface.”

The course is equivalent to an introductory college-level course. There are no prerequisites for AP Geography, although students are expected to read college-level texts. The course is often taken in freshman year.

You will develop skills in:

  • Analyzing concepts, processes and geographical relationships
  • Interpreting data, maps, charts and images
  • Analyzing qualitative source information, theories and models

The exam consists of one 2 hour 15 minute exam, with 50% (60 minutes) of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and 50% (75 minutes) of free-response questions.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Human Geography course page.

Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From AP Human Geography Test Assessors

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

“As usual in this subject, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on their free-response questions, where low performance continues to limit the percentage of exams achieving scores of 3 or higher.”

Multiple-choice section:

  • “Students demonstrated strongest mastery of Unit 4, Political Patterns and Processes, with 18% of students answering virtually every question about this unit correctly. The next strongest unit was the final one, Unit 7, Industrial and Economic Development.”
  • “Students scored lowest on questions about Unit 6, Cities and Urban Land-Use, and many also struggled with questions about Unit 3, Agricultural and Rural Land-Use.”
  • “For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time in the “Using Probability and Simulation” skill area, and Units 4 and 5, which are, respectively, on “Probability, Random Variables, and Probability Distributions”, and “Sampling Distributions”.”
  • “Students’ strongest skill, overall, was scale analysis (Skill Category 5); 15% of students got virtually all of these questions right. Many students also demonstrated strong skills of source analysis (Skill Category 4).”
  • “Students’ weakest skill, overall, was data analysis (Skill Category 3); 8% of students could not answer any of these questions correctly.”

Free-response section:

“Perhaps because AP Human Geography students are primarily 9th graders (unlike every other AP subject), many really struggle with the college-level demands of the free-response questions, which are written and scored by college faculty and AP teachers through the lens of college-level standards, so that the scores can accurately determine whether a student deserves to receive college credit for this course. Accordingly, AP Human Geography typically has a much lower percentage of students earning scores of 3+ than another social science subjects like AP Psychology, taken primarily by 12th grade students.”

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

How To (Self) Study AP Human Geography: Advice From Class Alumnae

There’s a lot of vocab to memorize: so get yourself some flashcards

“Know your vocabulary very well and also know how the words apply to real situations” – AP Geography Score: 5

“Great class. Be sure to pay attention to the vocabulary and find ways to apply the information learned outside of class to real life scenarios. It would also be helpful to keep tabs on the news and see how that correlates with the class.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“’USE FLASHCARDS!! To memorize vocabulary and the models. Make use of the units as they go very well together and give you a mind map that can help you on the AP test.” – AP Geography Score: 5

“Definitely know vocab. You need general understanding of concepts, not necessarily specifics.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“LEARN YOUR TERMS!!! Terms are super important on the AP exam. Make flashcards and READ the book!!!” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Know plenty of examples for every concept and vocab word. Quizlet is a great resource” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

Make sure to pay attention in class

“Pay attention in class and you’ll be fine; for self-studiers, there are amazing resources out there (Barron’s, AP’s videos, cram packets, etc.) that will help immensely. The class wasn’t particularly hard, but make sure you cross-apply concepts and events from different units to understand more and have a better chance for a high AP score” – AP Geography Score: 5

“If you pay attention in class you will get a 4/5” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Pay attention to the class, but the FRQ are easy to BS. Also, don’t stress! I only studied a week before the exam and still got a 5.” – AP Geography Score: 5

“Know all the vocab and especially the models. Pay attention in class and it shouldn’t a problem.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

Preparation is key for success

“Prepare intensively for topics relating to demographics and urbanization. Know general trends for other units. Be creative in your FRQ’s; share and include some lesser-known knowledge or detail that was taught to you specifically by your AP Human Geography teacher.” – AP Geography Score: 4

“Use your review book as a guide! Make flashcards and memorize them. On the test there were things that we didn’t cover in class but that were covered in the prep book. I had a terrible teacher, but by memorizing all of the key terms in the prep book I was able to get a 5.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“Study for tests and take good notes. Overall the content isn’t that hard but in my class there was a lot of work so try to stay on top of that and plan ahead. I would also really recommend the Ethel Wood book. It does a great job of condensing the important information and it’s super good for studying.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

“This class can be very easy if you have a good teacher. Make sure to memorize the models and know how to apply them to different situations, along with memorizing the vocabulary. Even though many say that this is an easy AP exam, please study throughout the class and before the exam, or else you might be surprised.” – AP Geography Score: 5

“Google is your friend. You can search up so many resources, which is how I came across the APHG Crash Course and 5 Steps to a 5 pdf file. The Princeton book is extremely helpful! Just be make sure you know your vocabulary, theories, AND MODELS.” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

“Make sure you thoroughly understand each topic and how they form connections to other ideas. There are multiple online resources, and I do recommend the Princeton book.” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

“Make sure to go over the previous FRQs given on the College Board. They essentially tell you exactly what they want on the actual test.” – AP Human Geography Score: 5

Students recommend balancing your studies: don’t cram and don’t over-study

“Overstudying is a thing. It puts more pressure on you to do well, ultimately causing you to choke. My friend hardly studied (a few hours at the most) and got the same score that I did, having studied the content for probably at least 40 – 50 hours” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

“Don’t cram. Steadily learn throughout a year and do a full review a couple nights before the test.” – AP Geography Score: 4

“Just make sure you’re on top of the work, the moment you don’t understand something immediately go to the teacher. Also don’t solely rely on your teacher and the book, branch off and learn through other places because sometimes what the teacher taught is not on the AP test, or the teacher didn’t teach something on the test.” – AP Human Geography Score: 4

Best books and test prep resources for AP Geography

The most popular textbook for test prep and review for AP Human Geography is Princeton Review, used by 42% of students. It has an average rating of 4.6/5.0 from reviewers on Amazon.com.

Best AP Human Geography Textbooks for Prep & Review

Other popular AP Geography test prep / review books and resources for include:

Where next?

Find out how AP Human Geography 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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