Until recently, this fact alone would have been considered remarkable. A.P. classes were, for years, primarily taught in wealthier school districts. But over the last decade, the program has grown rapidly. In 2006, 1.3 million students took at least one A.P. exam; by 2016, the number had increased to 2.6 million. The total number of tests taken grew during the same time period to 4.7 million from 2.3 million. Much of this growth is due to increased federal funding for A.P. tests and concerted efforts by the College Board to reach low-income and minority students. The organization has a program called “All In,” which identifies lower-income students who might succeed in an A.P. class based on their PSAT scores — the Preliminary SAT, which the College Board also administers — and then reaches out to those students (and their teachers and advisers) to persuade them to take the courses.
From one viewpoint, the expansion has been successful. In 2005, only 6.4 percent of the nation’s high school seniors who took A.P.s were black; that figure increased to 9.5 percent in 2015. Hispanics’ participation grew to 20 percent from 13.4 percent. For low-income students, that figure doubled, to about 30 percent from about 15 percent.
But taking an A.P. class and succeeding at it are two different things. After class let out, Fuchs told me, with a note of frustration in her voice, how few of her students passed the A.P. exam at the end of the year. “I’ve got five to six kids reading on grade level, and three of those don’t show up,” she said. “The rest are significantly below grade level.” Fuchs, whose class meets for 85 minutes daily, works with her students through lunch periods and whenever she has a free moment. She took some of them canvassing out of state on weekends during the 2016 campaign to teach them about real-world politics. She buys them breakfast the morning of the A.P. exam. Many of her students are engaged and passionate. Still, she said, “for six years, the passage rate has always been completely flat.” Usually, only one or two students in her class score a 3 or higher.
Fuchs’s students are part of a broader trend. Nationally, over 70 percent of African-Americans and 57 percent of Hispanics who took an A.P. test in 2016 did not pass. (Over all, the failure rate was 42 percent.) And over the past two decades, although the percentage of students scoring between 2 and 5 remained fairly stable, the percentage of students scoring 1 has grown to 19 percent from 12 percent.
In 2016, at the nine open-enrollment neighborhood high schools in Washington, the passage rates were fairly dismal; at three schools, only one student score a 3 or above, and one had no students pass at all. This failure rate, which is rarely highlighted by the College Board — or the policy makers and legislators who also drive the A.P. expansion — raises questions that are as tangled as any about race, class and education in this country. Critics of the program see the A.P.’s expansion as a boondoggle, with scarce resources being thrown at a program that simply wasn’t designed to address the systemic problems facing public education — at a real cost to these students.
The Advanced Placement program began in 1955, inspired by a fear that American high school students were falling behind the rest of the world, the Soviet Union in particular. By offering elite high school students an opportunity to take college-level classes, the United States could theoretically regain ground it had lost. The program was initially developed with funding from the Ford Foundation and was eventually taken over by the College Board, which had been administering standardized tests since the beginning of the 20th century. As the courses grew in popularity, they soon became a useful assessment tool in college admissions offices, according to Kristin Klopfenstein, director of the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab and one of the foremost experts on the A.P. program. American schooling standards differed regionally, but, she says, “A.P. scores mean the same thing whether you’re in New York or Louisiana.”
The A.P. program remained a mainstay of affluent, mostly white schools until the 1990s, when parents in lower-income school districts became increasingly concerned about the disparity between the number of A.P. classes offered at their schools and the number in wealthier districts. Rigorous standardized tests, it was thought at the time, could be a means of bridging the achievement gap between richer and poorer schools. In 1999, the A.C.L.U. sued the state of California on behalf of black and Hispanic high school students in Inglewood, who were denied equal access to A.P. courses, saying the state violated the students’ right to an equal education. Inglewood High School in South Los Angeles offered only three A.P. classes, while Beverly Hills High School offered 45 A.P. classes in 14 subjects. The state settled the lawsuit by agreeing to increase access to A.P. classes. In the following years, the U.S. Department of Education’s office of civil rights found that numerous school districts as far-flung as South Orange and Maplewood, N.J., and Lee County, Ala., were not providing equal A.P. access to African-American students.
With expanded access, the A.P. curriculum’s reason for being grew more complex. “A.P. is now being asked to serve multiple purposes in society,” says Chester E. Finn Jr., a former assistant secretary of education under President Reagan who is now a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. What started as a program for accelerating the education of gifted students is now being used as a means of broadening access to challenging material, Finn says.
Questions about the A.P. program’s purpose are complicated further by the fact that it provides a not-insignificant amount of revenue for the College Board. Of the College Board’s total $916 million in revenue in 2015, $408 million came from fees for the test and instructional materials. (Next year, the test fee will be $94.) The A.P. could become even more important as an income generator in the face of financial and brand challenges for the organization. The College Board also administers the SAT, which has been losing ground in recent years to the ACT. And over the past decade, some elite private high schools have begun dropping the A.P. curriculum in favor of their own homegrown honors programs.
Nevertheless, the College Board has effectively persuaded politicians and policy makers that A.P. classes and tests are one of the best ways to raise standards in poorer schools. Federal and state governments cumulatively have spent hundreds of millions of dollars on A.P. tests and teacher training. As of last year, 29 states subsidized A.P. exams, 20 states offered financial incentives like teacher bonuses for strong A.P. scores and 30 states required that A.P. participation or scores be used in measuring school and district performance. In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio’s “A.P. for All” initiative, which started last year, promises that by 2021 all city schools will provide students with access to at least five A.P.s, at a cost of $41.5 million annually for teacher training, student tutoring and materials.
“There has been a tremendous push to market for good and bad reasons,” says Theodore O’Neill, who served for 20 years as the University of Chicago’s dean of admissions. “I think the whole accumulation of power in the hands of the College Board that determines what a curriculum should be is suspect in itself.” Diane Ravitch, a former assistant secretary of education appointed by President George H.W. Bush — and a fervent critic of the growth of standardized testing in American education — puts it succinctly: “The A.P. has become a cash cow for the College Board. If it really wants to promote equity, offer the tests for free.”
Trevor Packer, the senior vice president of Advanced Placement and instruction at the College Board, denies that the organization views the A.P. expansion as a road to growth. “No one has ever said: ‘Trevor, we need you to increase the revenue,’ ” he told me. For him, not expanding access to A.P.s would mean a tremendous amount of lost potential. “If I were to look at kids taking too many A.P.s or not taking enough — I’m concerned about both, but one thousand times more concerned about kids not getting access to any A.P.s,” Packer says. “I would rather have a culture where we take risks on giving opportunities to kids.”
Packer pointed to the College Board’s own research, which shows that students aren’t discouraged by failing the exams. In fact, students who received a 1 or a 2 on an A.P. exam in 10th grade were significantly more likely to take an A.P. exam later in high school than those who had not taken an A.P. test in 10th grade. “I don’t see how that’s harming anyone,” he says. Packer believes that the numbers actually signify success. “The overall A.P. score hasn’t changed much,” he told me. In 2008, the mean score was 2.85; in 2016, it was 2.87. “We don’t see much cause for concern.”
But to critics, the College Board is guilty of promising too much, offering its rigor as a cure for struggling school districts — something it was never meant to be. In 2015, The Journal of Negro Education, a Howard University publication, released a study of A.P. exam scores, incentives and costs in Texas, Florida and New York. The authors of the article noted that while “the A.P. program has been popularized as one of the most effective strategies used in closing the achievement gap, preparing students for college and careers and gaining admissions to postsecondary institutions,” those claims “by the College Board do not mirror the lived experiences of black and Hispanic student groups.” Or as George W. Moore, an author of the report and an associate professor at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tex., says, “A lot of money is being spent for students to take the test, and a lot of students are not being successful.”
It’s easy to see why expanded access to A.P. courses is such a tempting idea. Take, for example, Anthony Yom, 37, a math teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School, a low-income public school in Los Angeles. Yom teaches calculus AB (the lower of the two levels of A.P. calculus) and makes himself available to his students virtually around the clock — before and after school, at lunchtime, at special sessions that he sometimes holds for his A.P. students during the summer, and on every weekend in the months leading up to the exam. He has been teaching the class for six years, and all but one of those years, all of his 25 or so students have passed the exam, many with top scores. Two years ago, one of his students made headlines when he received a perfect score on the test, one of only 12 in the world to do so that year.
These success-against-all-odds stories are captivating. It’s hard to overstate how much “Stand and Deliver” — the 1988 movie about an A.P. calculus teacher who overcame the odds when all his low-income Latino students passed the exam — has influenced many advocates’ perceptions about what an A.P. class can do. And things like this do happen; “Stand and Deliver” is based on real events. But they’re anomalous. Yom credits his success to a number of things: a math department that lays out clear expectations from ninth grade on about what students need to know to get to A.P. calculus, a mentor who has taught A.P. calculus at Lincoln High for 16 years and his own ability to devote countless hours to his students. But once Yom is married and has children, he told me, it simply won’t be sustainable to continue spending so much time with his classes.
And stories like Yom’s are rare, in any case. At struggling schools, it’s common that students are strongly encouraged to enroll in A.P. courses, or simply placed in them by their counselors. This difference was apparent to Paige Veliz-Gilbert, a history teacher at Woodson High, when she attended a one-week A.P. training program last year. She is a strong supporter of A.P.s but found that many of the College Board’s trainers didn’t understand the lives of the students she was teaching. Veliz-Gilbert says she remembers asking one workshop leader what percentage of his students complete their homework. “And without batting an eye, he said: ‘All of them.’ He saw the look on my face. I’m lucky to have a 30 percent return on homework.”
Even if students don’t pass the test, there is reason to believe that simply taking A.P. courses is valuable. After all, many students receive passing grades in their courses while still failing the A.P. exam. But because so much focus is on the test — the College Board tracks only participation and outcomes from the tests, not the classes — and because numbers are so much easier to measure than the far more intangible benefits of teaching and learning, the real value of A.P.s can be hard to assess. It seems logical to assume that taking a more rigorous course can have benefits in and of itself: by opening horizons, by sending a message to students that they are capable. And many teachers and students feel that way. Calid Shorter, 17, who was in Fuchs’s A.P. government class this past year, says she was one of his best teachers. “They really care,” he says. “Pushing me into classes has been a benefit — it’s given me more of a go-getter mind-set.”
Frazier O’Leary, who retired this year after teaching A.P. classes at Cardozo high school in Washington for more than 20 years, doesn’t worry about the fact that of his 64 students who took the A.P. literature exam this year, none passed. “I was so excited 11 of them got 2s,” says O’Leary, who also grades A.P. exams for the College Board and teaches A.P. teachers at summer institutes. “A 2 means they understood the text. For some of these kids, it was the first time they were exposed to studying novels or plays. Some have never seen a play. Some don’t own any books at all.” He has no doubt that simply being in his A.P. literature class helps his students succeed in college. “When kids come back after freshman year, they say they got an A or a B in English,” he says — and that they find their college courses easier than his.
But anecdotal accounts like O’Leary’s are not borne out in more systematic studies of the A.P.’s impact. Too often, says Klopfenstein, of the Colorado Evaluation and Action Lab, research confuses correlation with causation; highly motivated students tend to take more A.P. classes, and they also tend to do better in college and graduate on time. But once all the variables, like parental education and income, are stripped away, there is no indication that those who take A.P.s do better in college. “If you don’t control for all the factors, A.P. looks good,” she says. “If you do, A.P. is not so positive.”
The effects of exam scores are clearer. Existing research offers strong evidence that scoring a 3 or more on the A.P. exam predicts greater academic success in college, Klopfenstein says. And while the College Board has published one study indicating that students who get a 2 on the exam may also do slightly better, even Packer at the College Board says that benefit is unproven. “We at the College Board want to be very careful about the language,” he says. “Frequently schools make larger claims for A.P. than we do.”
These findings raise a question: Is it effective to be investing the time and resources in a program whose benefits seem so difficult to pin down? And allocating funds in this way can have perverse consequences. If only a small number of students are truly ready for Advanced Placement, then students who are either unprepared or unmotivated to be admitted have to fill out the class. “Before it was very selective, and now it has gone too far the other way,” says Carlos Veciana, an A.P. teacher in a Miami-Dade charter school. “Now you put 30 kids in a classroom, and 15 have no business being there. And the kids who don’t want to be there, they become disruptive.”
The academic achievement gap, according to most research, usually begins before children even enter school — and research has found that after third grade, on average, these disparities don’t change much. So the only real way to even begin to conquer the inequality apparent in how the A.P.s play out is by addressing the issue much, much earlier. But beyond such a fuzzy and politically distant goal, critics of the A.P. expansion believe there are changes that could be made sooner. Klopfenstein argues that the A.P. program should remain accessible, but that it must be accompanied by regular classes in which students learn skills like note-taking, outlining and intellectual discipline. Others think the mandates on the number of A.P. classes must go, that districts should instead look at which subjects might benefit the most students, rather than arbitrarily drawing a line. Some even advocate for keeping the classes but getting rid of the high-stakes tests at the end.
College Board representatives say they know more help is needed to make the A.P. expansion improve students’ outcomes. At its annual meeting this year, the organization announced that support will soon be available, including a partnership with Khan Academy, an online nonprofit, to offer free test-preparation and course materials for teachers and students in many A.P. subjects. The question is whether directing those resources at passing one specific test makes any sense.
In July, when the A.P. exam results were released, four students out of 162 who took the exams at Woodson passed. “I am resigned to the scores breakdown,” Fuchs wrote to me in an email. “What I will say is I have colleagues at other schools who still get straight 1s, unfortunately. So I know I’m doing something different to get my few kids past the finish line, but I don’t seem to be able to make significant headway with the rest.”
Brian Pick, chief of teaching and learning for D.C. Public Schools, says that A.P.s are only one tool in the district’s overall push to drive up standards. “We all have a deeply held belief that if you set high expectations for kids, they will rise to them, from what course they’re in to what assignment they get,” he says. That turned out to be true in Fuchs’s class. There were 20 1s, four 2s, one 3 and a lone 5: Calid Shorter. Over the course of his junior and senior years, he took five A.P. exams, and A.P. government was the only one he passed. “That’s the only one I truly studied for,” he told me, because it actually interested him. He just started his first semester at Sewanee, the University of the South, near Knoxville, Tenn.
Fuchs started teaching a new crop of seniors last month. She’ll have a chance, once again, to try out the A.P. curriculum on her students. Like any good teacher, Fuchs is an optimist, and she believes that her next group of students will do better. Still, the tone of her email turned philosophical at times. “I think schools embrace A.P. in large part due to the drive for ‘rigor’ and the lack of interest in truly exploring what that means,” she wrote. “It is easier for a district to purchase an outside program and its definition of rigor.”Continue reading the main story
AP European History can seem incredibly hard to learn and review – especially if you don’t have much time to get ready for the AP exam. In this subject you need to know centuries of complicated history, memorize tons of obscure names and dates, and thoughtfully analyze historical events in Europe. This massive load of material can be overwhelming to memorize and learn. If you don’t know where to find resources to help you, this course can even seem impossible. But with the right study guide and the best materials available, it can be simple and even easy to review AP European History and ace the exam – even if you only have a month!
We’ve created this one-month AP European History study guide to help you as you review all the key ideas in the course and practice for the AP exam. If you decide to use our guide, you don’t need to worry about studying material that won’t be tested at the end of the year. We focus only on what you need to know for the AP test. Plus, we’ve searched everywhere to find the best resources for AP European History so you don’t have to stumble around looking for them. With enough motivation and a great study plan, you can confidently take the AP European History exam and walk out with the score you want.
To get more information about AP European History and for strategies to help you do well on the exam, check out some of these helpful articles:
What You will Need for this One-Month AP European History Study Guide
If you don’t have the right materials, it will be hard to score well on the exam. We will reference these resources as we work through this guide, so it’s vital that you can use them. If you can’t find or access one of these resources, try to find a substitute.
Albert.io AP European History questions. The Albert.io system has hundreds of questions on European history, from the Gutenberg press to the Warsaw Pact. The problems are designed to increase your understanding, and the system reports your accuracy to help guide your study. The European questions test both your knowledge of the content and your understanding of the historical trends in Europe over the ages. It’s a perfect way to help you excel on the AP European History test.
Plenty of practice tests.If you don’t practice, you cannot possibly get ready for the test. You have to know what the exam will require you to know. The best resource to find practice tests is CollegeBoard’s AP Central for AP European History. This central website includes a variety of practice tests and other materials for the course. We’ll be using these resources regularly, so save this website.
Flashcard site like Quizlet or flashcard app like Anki. You could also use paper index cards, but those are quite a bit harder to use than computer-based flashcards.
A review book for AP European History. The two most popular books for learning and reviewing AP European History are the Princeton Review and the Barron’s review book. The Princeton Review was written to cover only the essentials – what you absolutely need to know for the test. It’s best as a review for those who are taking an AP European History class in school, not as a way to learn the material for the very first time. The Barron’s book is updated for the 2016 exam and is great for either reviewing or for learning the material for the first time. It loses out on some of the unique and helpful aspects of the Princeton Review and it isn’t as concise, but it is great for what most students need. For this guide, we’ll be using the Barron’s review book: Barron’s AP European History, 8th Edition. Even if you don’t have this particular book, you can relate our advice to any review book your using. All of them cover the same basic material, just in slightly different arrangements.
Extra Resources for AP European History
You will not need these resources to pass the test, and they aren’t required to use this study guide. But we might reference these resources at some point, and they will be very useful on the AP European History test. Since most of them are free, you can use them as an extra way to improve your review plan.
An AP European History textbook. If you’re taking the class in school, you probably have already been given a textbook. You should take advantage of this book to gain a better understanding of AP European History. The AP exam tests your ability to view historical events within the broad story of Europe, and a textbook is one method to develop this deep, integrated understanding. They are much more comprehensive than just a review book. If you don’t have a textbook, there isn’t much need to buy one. They can be very expensive, and much of what they focus on is never tested. If you do want to get a textbook, great! If you’d like to look at some options, the CollegeBoard has created an example textbook list for AP European History.
This YouTube playlist on AP European History from Tom Richey. An experienced AP Euro teacher named Tom Richey created these videos to help students prepare for the AP exam. Videos are the best way to learn for some people, and this playlist is especially helpful. Mr. Richey takes care to make entertaining, interesting, and informative videos. This playlist wonderful method for reviewing and learning AP European History.
European History videos from Khan Academy. These videos were created by one of the best online learning websites in the world, and they are extremely valuable for learning about some specific period of European history. However, these videos are not comprehensive – they only cover a tiny snapshot of European history, and they focus mostly on the Napoleonic Wars.
AP European History Study Materials List.An expert AP European History teacher put together this extensive set of worksheets, study guides, websites, and review notes to help students prepare for the test. Using all these resources to your advantage can improve your studying and dramatically increase your score.
Hank’s History Hour Podcast on AP European History. An incredible AP European History teacher and a student who got a 5 on the AP exam created this podcast. They collaborated to make each episode as engaging as possible while still sticking to the main curriculum. If you listen to these podcasts in your free time, it will definitely help you ace the AP test.
AP Euro History Comprehensive Study Guide.A teacher made a huge document with notes on every major topic in AP European History, and this was the result. This includes about 140 pages of review. It covers all the important ideas, names, and topics in European history. This study guide also includes helpful diagrams and comparisons to help you compare time periods with each other and to improve your understanding of the broad strokes of the history of the European continent.
How to Use the AP European History Study Guide
Your study should be determined by how prepared you are at the time you start this guide. If you are very prepared, you won’t spend very much time going back over concepts and learning content again. Instead, you will focus your time and energy on answering sample questions, making sure you have the material memorized, and practicing for the AP test. On the other hand, if you’re not as prepared, you should be learning new ideas and reviewing old content to help you study for the upcoming exam.
We recommend you take a diagnostic test before you start using this study guide to see how much you already know. This will be valuable for directing how you study in the future and helping you decide what you need to review. If you want to take practice exam, there’s a diagnostic test at the beginning of the Barron’s review book. If you’ve already taken a test in school, you can use that to evaluate your knowledge so far.
Once you’ve taken the test, grade it. If you got a 4 or 5, you’re very prepared for the AP European history test. However, you should keep reviewing until the test so you can keep the material fresh in your mind. If you got a 3, you’re somewhat prepared. Use this study guide to improve from just an average student to an exceptional student. If you got a 1 or 2, you’re not very prepared, and you should use this resource to improve your score.
Regardless of what score you got, you should flip through your test to see what types of questions you missed and what questions you got right. Try to find the concepts and sections that you didn’t understand. For example, if you missed a lot of questions about the Renaissance, you should use a significant amount of time this month on making sure you know everything you need to know about the Renaissance.
If you don’t feel prepared at all: Learning the content well enough for the exam will require extra work and a great plan. Depending on your situation in particular, you need to study about10 to 15 hours a week. Do not skip any of the readings or practice tests, and do more if you have time. Complete everything in this study guide for AP European History. Evaluate your performance on practice tests to decide what you should study the most. We designed this study guide to help you make your study time as efficient as possible, so you don’t waste critical time on material you won’t be tested on.
If you’re somewhat prepared: This guide is a comprehensive way to improve your memory and fill in all the gaps in your understanding of AP European History. Since you already know most of the concepts and you’re reasonably confident in European history, you don’t need to learn much new material. When this study guide tells you to learn a new concept, just skim over the reading or lecture instead of watching it deeply. Your study should all be about practicing, memorizing, and reviewing. Instead of reading passages from a book, just answer tons of sample questions to test yourself. You should study about 10 hours a week in the five weeks before the exam. Every day, practice going through your flashcards, complete some questions on Albert.io, or answer a few AP questions.
If you’re very prepared: You probably know who you are. You might have already taken a course that covered European history. Maybe learning about the Renaissance, the Crusades, and the Reformation is your personal hobby or passion, and perhaps you already know a ton about the subject. No matter which situation you’re in, you mostly need to focus on practicing. Even if you’re an expert historian, there are probably a few small flaws in your understanding that you need to repair. The AP test is filled with tricky questions about specific or obscure events, trends, and people. This study guide will make sure you know everything you need to finish the AP exam and stroll out with a 5. You should spend at least five hours a week studying for the test in the month before the exam.
There are a few main themes the CollegeBoard wants you to understand for the AP test. They are the concepts that help you combine all the individual historical events into a few big ideas.
1. Interaction of Europe and the World. This theme is all about how Europe has affected other countries throughout the world, and how the world has affected Europe. For example, how did the Silk Road with China affect the culture, economics, and warfare of Europe? On the other hand, how did European imperialism affect Africa and the Americas?
2. Poverty and Prosperity.The movements of communism and capitalism both began in Europe – Adam Smith in England and Karl Marx in Eastern Russia. Class, the distribution of wealth across a population, has affected Europe throughout history. You can use your knowledge of class to understand why certain events occurred – for example, the French revolution can partially be explained by a disparity between the poorer working classes and the aristocratic upper class.
3. Objective Knowledge and Subjective Visions.You probably know about the Enlightenment. This was a movement that swept across Europe and the world, encouraging reason, thought, science, and free speech. However, you may not know as much about romanticism and existentialism, the philosophical backlash to the Enlightenment. These movements argued that reason and science alone could not understand everything, and they emphasized the subjective experiences of individuals. To comprehend Europe’s culture and intellectual history, you must understand this historical conflict between reason and emotion.
4. States and Other Institutions of Power.Kings, institutionalized religions, empires, and nation-states all play a massive role in the history of Europe. To understand European history, you must be able to explain the structures of all these different types of power.How do they control individuals? How did individuals respond to these institutions? How did they affect European history? Being able to answer these types of questions is essential to understanding the fourth theme of AP European History.
5. Individual and Society.Often, we forget that the huge shifts in European society had effects on the lives of individuals. The fifth theme is about this interaction between the broad landscape of European history and the everyday routines of real people. For example, how did the Catholic Church influence the way women were perceived in European cultures, and how did this change over time? How did the shift from an agrarian to industrial economic system affect the lives of families in England?
That’s it! There are only five very big, abstract ideas you need to comprehend for the AP test. However, there is a very detailed list names, dates, and events that you must know in order to apply these ideas to the AP exam. The people who designed the AP European History course decided to divide the curriculum into four units of time. Each unit has equal weight and importance on the AP test – each area will take up approximately 25% of the exam.
1. Period 1: 1450 to 1648. This period covers some of the most important events and processes in world history: the Enlightenment, the shift from religious states to secular states, the Reformation, the rise of capitalism, a change from a an almost universally Catholic society to a pluralistic society, the age of exploration, the Columbian exchange, and more.
2. Period 2: 1648 to 1815.This period was marked by the Industrial Revolution, a massive transformation that changed the lives of everyone in the world and caused seismic shifts in European society. The world became economically and culturally interconnected. Science was emphasized more than ever before. No one could ignore these huge changes.
3. Period 3: 1815 to 1914.In this era, the Industrial Revolution expanded dramatically, moving from England to the continent, and from Europe to the rest of the world. Now that industry and capitalism have taken hold in the world, we can begin to see how people responded to these changes. Socialism and communism, movements based on collective action to protect worker’s rights, began to shape Europe. The economic changes led to a series of revolutions and shifts in the way European society was structured.
4. Period 4: 1914 to Present.The first half of this period was probably the most violent and unstable era in the history of human civilization. Total war, genocide, and political instability wreaked havoc on Europe. The rest of the 20th century was largely dealing with the aftermath of these wars. International organizations like the United Nations, the League of Nations, the Warsaw Pact, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization were formed to prevent future world wars. The conflicts between democracy, fascism, and communism played a massive role in this period.
You should be excited to get started! European history is a messy, complicated, long, and exciting narrative, and it is one of the most important stories you’ll ever hear.
This guide is based on a study schedule of six days a week and two hours a day. However, if you don’t need to review certain ideas, feel free to skip over them. You get a break at the end of each week. However, even on your rest day, you may want to skim over your notes and test yourself on a few flashcards.
There are a few things you should be doing nearly every day this month, regardless of how prepared you are. First, you need to make a deck of flashcards for reviewing and memorizing key ideas in AP European History. Since AP European History is a very memorization-focused course with dozens of events, names, and dates, you should make sure to add what you learn to your flashcards.
Second, you should be taking notes throughout the course. Use your notes to keep track of what you know and what you need to study. Nearly every day, you should review your notes and practice your flashcards to keep the material fresh in your mind.
If you miss a day, try to catch up the next day. Don’t cram, as it will not be effective in the end. Every week, we’ll give you a rest day to chill out and take a break from your review.
We’ll start off this month of studying by making sure you understand what you will be required to know on the AP European History test. By the end of the day, you should know what concepts will be tested and what you need to review for the AP exam.
Read pages six all the way through 29 of the AP European History Course Description from the CollegeBoard. This description includes a full outline of everything you need to know on the AP test. Every time you see a word or concept that you are unfamiliar with, write it down in your notes. You’ll want to come back to these concepts later in the month to review them. As you read, try to understand the broad, main ideas of European history.
Now, skim through the rest of the course description. Read a little bit about each period. Don’t read every paragraph – just look at the headings.
Next, skip down to page 165 of the AP European History Course Description. This part of the description is all about the test itself. It’s vital that you read through this section carefully, as it tells you exactly what the test will be like and how your responses will be graded. Plus, this section includes some practice AP European History multiple-choice questions and free-response questions. Set aside some time to answer all of these questions. Go to a place where you won’t be interrupted. Treat this like a real practice exam.
After you finish the test, grade your answers. What do you already know? What do you need to learn? Make sure to write down any key ideas that you don’t understand.
For the remainder of this guide, we’ll be reviewing all of European history.
Today we’ll be starting our review by understanding the main ideas of European history. Before we delve into all the particular events, we need to understand the concepts that bind all these works together. It is very important that you can write about these broad, philosophical questions for the AP exam. For these questions, you’ll be graded for having a thoughtful, insightful, and well-informed response, not just for using the correct terms and knowing the right events.
Watch videos three through sixteen in this YouTube playlist from Crash Course World History. Watch the videos on 1.5 or 1.25 times speed, as they are relatively simple and easy to understand. These videos cover some of the most important ideas in AP European History in a concise, thematic way. They’re perfect for reviewing the big ideas of the history of Europe.
Now that you have been introduced to European history, it’s time to really delve into the content. The first major unit is the time period from 1450 to 1648.
Start by opening up your Barron’s review book. Read the overview for Time Period 1, and then read Chapter 1: The Italian Renaissance and the Northern Renaissance. Remember to take notes as you read.
When you’re done reading the chapter, complete the practice long-essay questions and the practice multiple-choice questions. Time yourself to see how close you are to finishing the sections on time. By the end of this guide, you should be able to finish each section within the time limits of the AP test.
Today we will review the material that you raced through yesterday.
Often it’s not enough to just read – you need to see the time period through images, audio, and more. To review the same periods you just covered, open up Tom Richey’s AP European History Review Videos and watch the following videos: The Italian Renaissance, Renaissance Art, Headbanger Humanism, Machiavelli, and the Northern Renaissance.
Watching all these videos should take you about 45 minutes.
Now, go through all your notes from yesterday. Quiz yourself on your flashcards. Review all the questions you got wrong in the multiple-choice and free response sections at the end of Chapter 1.
Finally, go to Albert.io and use all the time you have left to answer questions in the section on Time Period 1: 1450 to 1648. Try to finish the Introduction to Humanism section.
Now, open up your Barron’s review book again. Flip to Chapter 2: Protestant Reformation, Catholic and Counter-Reformation, and Wars of Religion. Read through the entire chapter.
When you’re finished reading, complete all the multiple-choice and free response questions for the section.
Go over all your notes. Highlight anything you don’t understand, and go back to the chapter to re-learn the material you’ve forgotten. Then, quiz yourself using your flashcards.
After you complete the chapter and the chapter review, open up your Albert.io page. Answer as many questions as you can in the time you have left.
Before we begin, here’s a quick preview of what’s coming next in this guide. In exactly 19 days or about three weeks, we’re going to be taking your first real AP European History practice test. You need to know and review all of the basic concepts in AP European History before that test.
Today, we will finish learning the first time period in AP European History, 1450 to 1648. We’ll review this period next week; don’t worry about forgetting everything.
Open your copy of the Barron’s review book and turn to Chapter 3: The Growth of European Nation-States and the Birth of Science. Read through the entire chapter, take notes, and add to your pile of flashcards. When you finish, take a five-minute break to refresh your mind. Then, go back to the end of the chapter and take the multiple-choice quiz and the free response quiz.
When you’re done taking the quizzes and grading your responses, open up the playlist of AP European History Review Videos. Watch the following videos:
- Causes of the Reformation
- Martin Luther’s Reformation
- The Catholic Counter-Reformation
- The English Reformation (Henry VII and the Church of England)
- French Wars of Religion
- The Thirty Years War
- Congratulations on making it through the first week!
We have absolutely rushed through this first unit! In the last six days, you’ve learned or reviewed about 25% of the material that will be tested on the AP exam. Don’t worry; you’ll have time to review this. Today is your rest day, so catch up on your sleep and exercise. Try to find some time to lightly review all your notes and flashcards.
Before we jump into the second time period in AP European History, we need to solidify your understanding of the first period. Take the practice assessment for time period one, one page 147 of your Barron’s review book. Once you finish the practice test, grade it and evaluate your performance. Go back to the chapters in this unit to read the sections you forgot.
With the remaining time today, we will introduce to the second time period in AP European History – 1649 to 1815. First, read the time period overview and the special chapter on periodization in your Barron’s book. These begin on page 167.
Then, watch this video on mercantilism to learn about one of the key concepts of this time period.
Start today’s study session by opening up to Chapter 4: The Expansion of Europe and the Enlightenment in your Barron’s review book. This chapter covers the rise of capitalism and the first rustlings of the Industrial Revolution, so be sure to pay attention as you read.
When you finish reading, take the multiple-choice and free response quizzes for Chapter 4. Grade your responses and use them to decide what you need to study more.
Finally, go to Albert.io and complete as many questions as you can in 1648 to 1815 section. You should answer about 30 to 40 questions.
Before anything else, review your flashcards and notes from yesterday. Try to keep the material fresh in your mind. Review what you got wrong on the chapter quizzes.
After that, open your Barron’s book and flip to Chapter 5: The French Revolution, Napoleon, and the Congress of Vienna. The Napoleonic Wars were incredibly important, and they shaped Europe for centuries. This chapter describes the beginnings of these wars.
After you’re done with the chapter, take the multiple-choice and free response quizzes for Chapter 5.
Then, watch the following two videos: The French Revolution Part 1, and the French Revolution Part 2.
When you finish watching these videos, open up Albert.io and complete about 20 questions in the 1648 to 1815 section.
The final chapter in the unit on Time Period 2 is Chapter 6: Industrialization Reshapes Europe. The events you learn about in this chapter will affect everything else you learn in this entire course. The Industrial Revolution leads to the arms races in the early 19th century and the subsequent world wars, it causes massive societal shifts, and it determines the structure of most of the countries in Europe.
When you finish reading Chapter 6, take both the long essay and multiple-choice quizzes for this chapter.
After you’re done taking these quizzes and grading your responses, take a five-minute break to go outside, walk around, or get a snack. We will be taking another exam right after these, so it’s important that you refresh your mind.
When you’re break is over, take the Time Period 2 Practice Assessment on page 235 of your Barron’s review book. Grade your test and see which material you missed.
This is our last day on reviewing Time Period 2: 1649 to 1815. Start by going over all the notes you’ve taken for this entire period. Then, work through all your flashcards until you can answer them all correctly.
After you finish going through your notes and your deck of flashcards, open up Albert.io. Try to complete the entire set of Time Period 2 questions. Don’t worry if you can’t finish them all, as there are a lot of questions.
Use Albert.io’s system to see what you understand and what you still need to study. It will show your accuracy on each type of question so you can guide your review and determine what you need to study.
Now, we will start our review of Time Period 3: 1815 to 1914. If you remember, this unit focuses on the Industrial Revolution and the consequences it had for Europe.
Start by reading the time period overview and the special note on periodization in your Barron’s review book. These are found on page 257.
Then, read Chapter 7: The Growth and Suppression of Democracy, From the Age of Metternich to the First World War.
When you finish reading the chapter, take the multiple-choice and long essay quizzes.
With any time you have remaining, go to Albert.io and try to catch up on the previous time period. If you already finished the last time period, start answering questions from Time Period 3.
Have a refreshing rest day! In the last 13 days, we’ve already completed our review of about half of the material that will be test on the AP European History exam. If you’ve already made it this far, you are well on your way to dominating the test and getting the score you want. Great work!
On Wednesday next week – Day 25 – we’ll be taking our first full AP European History practice test. That is in exactly 10 days from today. Don’t worry; we’re more than halfway done with learning everything you need to know. Keep up your focus and hard work, but don’t panic.
You’ve probably forgotten some of the material you learned on Saturday last week. Review it by skimming over your notes and flashcards.
To make sure you understand Metternich, the Congress of Vienna, and their influence on 19th century politics, watch this video on The Congress of Vienna: Mettternich’s Conservative Order.
Then, read Chapter 8: The Ideologies of the Nineteenth Century: Liberalism, Conservatism, Nationalism, and Culture.
After you finish reading, take the quizzes for this chapter.
Start today by opening your Albert.io account and working on questions for Time Period 3. Complete at least all the questions in section about The Industrial Revolution, and try to answer any more questions you can. Limit the time you spend on answering questions to just one hour.
Then, read Chapter 9: Imperialism and the Causes of the First World War in your Barron’s review book. After you’re done reading, take the chapter quizzes for both the multiple-choice section and the long essay section.
Today and tomorrow we will be reviewing everything you’ve learned about Time Period 3. Start today by opening your Barron’s review book to page 319. Take the practice assessment for Time Period 3.
After you’re done with the practice assessment, grade your test. Then, read all the answer explanations for every single question – including the ones you answered correctly. This will help make sure you didn’t just get answers right because you were guessing, and it will also improve your understanding of each question.
Use all of the time you have left to work on answering questions on Time Period 3 on Albert.io.
Spend the majority of your study session today on Albert.io. Try to finish all of the questions for Time Period 3. Use the feedback you receive from the Albert.io system to decide how well you know this unit. You can also use the practice assessment you took yesterday to gauge your understanding.
In the last 15 to 30 minutes of your study session, go to your notes and your flashcards. Skim through them and circle all the concepts you missed frequently on your practice assessment or on Albert.io. Then, re-read your notes for these concepts, and flip through your flashcards. Target your study on the ideas you didn’t understand in this unit.
Today we will start our review of European history in Time Period 4: 1914 to Present. This unit involves some very vivid wars and global events. You can’t understand these events merely using a textbook. You need to see them, hear them, and relate to the individuals who experienced these events. This will help you write better essays on the AP exam, and it will also help you gain perspective on what you learn in the upcoming days.
First, watch the following videos from Tom Richey’s AP European History Review Playlist:
Dulce et Decorum Est – Wilfred Owen (WWI Poetry). This video is from Time Period 2, but it will help you understand the aftermath of World War I. It expresses a feeling of disillusionment about the ‘glories of war,’ and it will help you comprehend the culture of Europe as the Nazi regime began to gain power.
- Treaty of Versailles Shopping Spree
- What is Democratic Socialism?
- Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power (Part 1 – 1889-1921)
- Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power (Part 2 – 1921-1929)
- Adolf Hitler’s Rise to Power (Part 3 – 1929-1933)
You will go into these concepts in more depth in the future, but for now, this broad overview will help you integrate everything you learn into the story of the 20th century.
Now, start answering questions on Albert.io for Time Period 4. Use what you’ve learned in these videos and in your study before you started this guide.
Start today’s study session by opening your Barron’s review book to Chapter 10: The First World War, and the Russian Revolution and USSR Until 1939. Read this chapter and take notes.
When you finish reading, take the chapter’s multiple-choice and long essay quizzes.
Use the rest of the time to review your flashcards, study your notes, and work on finishing the Albert.io section on Time Period 4.
Have a wonderful and reinvigorating rest day! There are only nine days left until the end of the month and only four days left until your practice test, but you have made an astonishing amount of progress. You have reviewed most of the material you need to know for the AP test, and you only have two chapters remaining in the Barron’s review book. Today, try to take a break from the intensity.
There are only three more days until your practice test! To get ready, open up to Chapter 11: Democracy, Depression, Dictatorship, World War and its Aftermath. Read the entire chapter, taking notes and adding to your deck of flashcards as you go. When you finish the chapter, take the quizzes for Chapter 11.
Go to Albert.io and answer questions from the section on Time Period 4.
Today we will finish reading all the material for Time Period 4, and then we will do a short review of the material.
Read Chapter 12: Recovery, Cold War, and Contemporary Europe. When you finish reading, take the multiple-choice and long essay quizzes for the chapter.
Now, open this AP European History Comprehensive Study Guide. Skip to page 95, and read through all the way to page 126. This covers all the material in Time Period 4. Copy down all the notes using your own words. Make sure all these concepts are in your notebook.
Finally, take the practice assessment for Time Period 4. This assessment is found on page 435. Use it to analyze your understanding, and then study what you missed.
This is the last day before your practice exam! Try to use your time as productively and efficiently as possible.
First, try to finish all the questions on Albert.io about Time Period 4.
When you complete this section, go back through all the previous sections and start analyzing your performance. Are there any particular areas you haven’t really understood? Are there any sections you have low accuracy on? Use this information to direct your study. If you repeatedly missed questions on a specific topic, go and review this topic.
You have almost certainly fallen behind a little bit in the last couple weeks. Maybe you didn’t review a certain concept enough. Use today to go back and finish what you started. If you didn’t complete one of the review videos, if you didn’t really understand a chapter in the Barron’s book, or if you forgot to make flashcards for a certain topic, go back and complete these tasks.
Here are a few things that you should have done by now. If you haven’t finished them, try to complete them today.
- Complete all of the AP European History questions on Albert.io.
- Read chapters 1 through 12 of the Barron’s review book.
- Have a full deck of flashcards for all the terms, ideas, dates, names, and concepts in AP European History.
- Make notes on all the major topics and notes about your progress in understanding the key concepts of AP European History.
If you have extra time, the best way to use it is to quiz yourself using Albert.io or previous practice quizzes and assessments in your Barron’s book. Try to solidify your knowledge of each era, so you can remember the material for the AP practice test tomorrow.
Today we’ll be focused entirely on finishing a full AP European History practice exam. Open up your Barron’s review book and go to the section called Model Test 1. This test includes both multiple-choice and free response, and you should complete both sections. The full test should take about three hours to complete.
Find a quiet place where no one will bother you and you can just focus on the test. Time yourself as you work through the exam. Set aside about three hours and fifteen minutes to finish the entire test, including the break. You’ll also need about 20 minutes to grade the test.
After you are finished, take a break for about 15 minutes. Then go back to the exam and check your answers. Review all the answers you got wrong and try to understand why.
Grade your practice test and review all the answers you got wrong. Use the answer explanations, the rest of your Barron’s review book, and the other resources in this study guide to understand why you made these mistakes.
What did you get? How much have you improved in the last two weeks? Use your score to analyze your progress so far. Next week, we’ll take another practice exam.
The AP exam is getting closer and closer, but you have already equipped yourself with nearly everything you need to get the score you want. However, you’re probably starting to lose your grasp of some of the concepts you have reviewed in the last two weeks. We’re going to use all the time we have left in this week to get back up to speed and ensure that your skills are polished enough for the AP exam.
First of all, we need to make sure that you’ve finished everything on Albert.io. Go back and finish any sections that you haven’t completed yet.
The Albert.io system tracks your progress and determines your accuracy over time. You should see information about your accuracy on each section. Spend your extra time answering questions from sections that you have low accuracy on.
If you have extra time after finishing every question on Albert.io, work on reviewing your flashcards. If you’re using Quizlet or Anki, you can automatically mark flashcards that you aren’t doing well on. If you’re using paper, you should mark flashcards that you consistently get wrong. Make multiple decks of flashcards based on how well you know them. Studying is all about learning from your mistakes.
Finally, review your practice test and try to analyze your mistakes. Find out why you missed each question, and then try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.
Today, we’re going to focus on learning everything you need to know about the Free Response section of the AP European History test.
Before you answer any AP European History free response questions, we need to decide on a strategy for completing the free response section.
Here are some basic tips from Albert.io about how to ace the free response section. Use them to create your own individual strategy based on what works best for you.
First, do the easiest question first. It makes you more efficient and ensures that you get at least a few points on the section. If you read a question and you have completely forgotten the material, just skip it. If you don’t know much about the historical event or person in a question, skip that question and move onto one you know better. At the end, you can go back and finish the questions you skipped.
Second, be organized. If you’re disorganized in your answers, it’s hard for graders to give you a good score. Have specific responses to each question. If a question has multiple parts, label all of your answers.
Third, don’t be afraid to name-drop! In your essays, talk about specific people who had huge impacts on the history of Europe. Reference the names of treaties, events, and individuals.
Finally, answer the question directly. This is not a five-paragraph essay, and it has absolutely no specified format. The only restriction on your essay in the AP European History test is that you have to answer the question in a way that’s clear enough for an AP grader to understand. Don’t write conclusions, thesis statements, introductions, or transition statements. If you want to ace the free response section, just answer the question and then move on.
Now that you have a strategy, it’s time to test it out against some real free response sections. Start by downloading the AP European History Free Response questions from 2016. Then, take this entire practice test. Time yourself, and treat it like a real test.
When you finish the exam, download the scoring guidelines for 2016. Try to grade your exam like an AP grader would. Only give yourself points if you match the grading key.
When you’re done, evaluate your performance. What did you miss? What did you understand? You can go back to AP Central to look at real sample responses and see statistics about each question.
Today is your last rest day before the end of this one-month study guide! Do something enjoyable. Don’t stress about the exam. You’ve already gone through 28 days of intense studying. Your determination over the last few weeks shows that you’re more than ready for the exam. Remember to eat healthily, sleep fully, and exercise frequently.
Today is the last day of content review in this 30-day guide. After this, you should just be preparing for the AP exam and reviewing what you’ve learned.
Start by skimming through this Comprehensive Study Guide for AP European History. It has 152 pages, but you don’t need to read every single word. Just glance at each page, writing down anything that you need to review. You can Google any ideas you missed or forgot. Then, add these ideas to your flashcards. If you don’t understand or don’t remember any of the concepts, write it down so you can study it later!
After you finish watching the videos, go back to your flashcards, your notes, and your Albert.io account. Review anything you haven’t studied yet. Re-read parts of the Barron’s review book, and skim over all the chapter summaries. Make sure you have memorized all the vocabulary, artworks, and names you’ll need to know for the AP European History test. The AP exam is approaching!
You’re finished! In the last 30 days, you have reviewed all of the material you need to succeed in the AP European History exam. Congratulations!
What Should I do to Prepare for the AP European History Test Day?
Regardless of how close you are to the AP European History exam, you should keep reviewing AP European History lightly to keep it fresh in your mind. However, if you’re within two weeks of the exam, you shouldn’t excessively stress yourself out. It’s important to tone down your intensity at this point. Studying too much can be just as dangerous and harmful as studying too little.
If you are still a week or two away from the AP exam, spend the remaining time reviewing your notes and flashcards, taking more practice exams, working on Albert.io, and watching review videos on AP European History.
If you’re less than a week away, just chill out a little bit. Your score isn’t going to change dramatically at this point. Just be confident about your abilities and trust that you have learned the material you need to know.
The day before the exam, don’t try to attempt any serious studying. If you feel like you need to review at least a little, that is absolutely fine. Don’t try to stop yourself. But do not spend more than one hour studying. Don’t try to learn any new material or take any practice tests. This won’t help your score; it will just hurt your confidence. You’ll see all the questions you got wrong and you’ll look at all the material you forgot, and that will make you stressed about the AP test.
If you’re going to study, do something you like and something that’s fun for you. For example, you could watch videos about European history from the Crash Course or Tom Richey channels on YouTube. These are usually very entertaining and they’re often hilarious. Alternatively, you could go to an art museum and look at historical pieces about Europe. Art analysis actually shows up on the exam occasionally, so this is a great way to prepare.
If you have completed this study guide, you have learned and refined all the essential skills you need to ace the exam. Congratulations on your incredible progress, and good luck on the AP test.
Final Wrap up:The One Month AP European History Study Guide
By completing this AP European History study guide, you have shown tremendous determination, dedication, and aptitude. You have reviewed countless AP European History multiple-choice questions, and you’ve completed a full AP European History practice test. You have completed all of Albert.io’s review for AP European History. You have read Barron’s entire review book for AP European History, taking notes along the way. You have built up a huge deck of flashcards. You have learned powerful information about the history of Western civilization. Don’t underestimate the usefulness of your understanding of history. Because you understand European history, you are a more informed person who can learn from the mistakes of the past to create the successes of the future.
You have learned everything you need to get a 5 on the AP test. It’s time to do it!
With whatever time you have after you finish this guide, you should be reviewing your notes and flashcards, solving problems, and answering practice questions. Get plenty of sleep every night, eat a healthy diet, and exercise regularly. Again, don’t worry about the test. After completing this 30-day guide, you should feel super confident.
Let us know what you thought of this AP European History study guide. What worked for you? What was your favorite event or time period in this course? How did you prepare for the AP European History exam?
Looking for AP European History practice?
Kickstart your AP European History prep with Albert. Start your AP exam prep today.