Mastering Multiple Choice Questions on the AP European History Exam

Mastering Multiple Choice Questions on the AP European History Exam
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  • 0:00 Mastering Multiple…
  • 0:32 Managing Time
  • 1:14 Structure
  • 2:52 Tips
  • 6:02 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Christopher Sailus

Chris has an M.A. in history and taught university and high school history.

In this lesson, we explore the multiple choice section of the AP European History exam and discover a few useful techniques that can help when a student just doesn't know the answer.

Mastering Multiple Choice Questions

So, it's almost test day! First of all, congratulations! You've gone through an entire course, learned loads of information most people don't learn until university, and now you're on the verge of gaining college credit for all that hard work. The first section you will have to complete to gain that credit is a multiple-choice test. This lesson will detail exactly how the sections and questions of the test are structured (an important part of understanding any test) along with some tips for tackling the tougher questions on the AP exam.

Managing Time

The first thing you should always be mindful of when completing the multiple-choice section on any exam is the time. Though it sometimes changes, as of 2015, the AP European History course is comprised of 55 multiple-choice questions, and you have 55 minutes to answer all of them. That gives you one minute to answer each question! Make sure you keep track of the time throughout the test. if you are falling behind that 40-second benchmark, you may want to speed up your decision-making process.

Whatever you do, be sure to fill in an answer for every question. The AP test does not count off points for wrong answers, so it only makes sense to have every question answered, regardless of how sure you are that they are all right.


The 55 multiple-choice questions on the test are designed to test over the entire period. Exactly half the questions test the time period from 1450 up until the French Revolution, and the other half tests from the French Revolution to present day. The topics of the test are also divided equally. One third tests your knowledge of cultural and intellectual topics, one third tests your knowledge of political and diplomatic topics, and the final third tests your knowledge of social and economic topics.

Considering this, it makes sense to have equal command of all of your test material before the test. As a result, you should pay particular attention to topics or time periods on which your understanding is weaker. For example, if you know far more about the French Revolution than the English Civil War, you should study the English Civil War more. As each portion of history has an equal chance of being on the test, it makes sense for you to make sure your knowledge is as well-rounded as possible.

The multiple-choice questions themselves will be rather straight forward. You will be asked a question, and there will be five possible answers given. Only one answer for each question will be correct. You will never face a 'choose all that apply' type of question. However, there are often questions which state that 'all of the following answers are correct except' the correct answer. Because of this, be sure to carefully read each question before answering. Sometimes, there may be a picture or map in the test, and one or a group of questions will ask you to analyze the image and answer the questions that follow accordingly. The amount of these types of questions varies from year to year, but there is almost always at least one.


You may think these multiple-choice questions are hard to prepare for, and to some extent you're right. However, there are a few things you can do to give yourself a better chance of answering questions correctly. When reading each question, try to cover up the answers with a sheet of paper or your hand. As you are reading the question, try to anticipate what the answer will be before you look at the answers. If the answer you thought of is one of the choices, great! Circle it, check quickly to see if any other answer might be better, and move on. This should lead to some rapid responses, which will save you time that can be used on more difficult questions.

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