In 2021, over 20,000 students took ap art history which is an AP course offered by the collegeboard but it appeals to only a few students when compared to the other AP courses. This is due to the fact that the learners need to memorize more than 250 works of art and architecture to score well.

Even students who attend the 2021 ap art history exam also feel that the exam was challenging as the paper has many research and analytical skills so many students didn’t find it useful across many subjects.

So, if you are new to the concept of ap art history, then learn what the course has and whether you can prefer the course to someone or to yourself.

Overview of AP Art History Exam

The AP Art History Exam consists two sections. They can be completed in just three hours.

Section I: Multiple Choice (50 % of the exam score).

  • 80 questions, 1 hour

Section II: No cost response (50% of the exam score).

  • 6 questions (2 essays long and 4 essays short), 2 hours


These questions will test your knowledge about art history concepts, as well as the contexts and surroundings of works of art. It is also important to be able analyze and compare more than 200 artworks. The exam does not include any additional materials.

In 2021, more than 20,000 students took AP Art History. AP Art History is more appealing to students than other AP courses. To score well, learners will need to remember information about 250 works and architecture.


May 2021 test scores revealed that many students found the AP Art History exam difficult, even though it did not make the list 10 most difficult AP classes. AP Art History develops analytical and research skills that can be used across many subjects.

What does AP Art History cover?

AP Art History teaches you about the history and evolution of architecture and art from prehistoric times until today. Learn how to interpret and evaluate works of art and architecture. This course also helps learners to understand artistic traditions.


Learning does not mean memorizing facts about works. Instead, they examine works of architecture and art to discover the connections between artistic styles and works of art. The “big picture” is also what the learner can see in works of architecture and art.


These periods and geographic locations are covered in the 2022 AP Art History Exam:


  • Period 1 : Global History, 30,000 to 500 B.C.E.
  • Period 2 Ancient Mediterranean 3500 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.
  • Period 3 Colonial America and Early Europe, 200-1750 C.E.
  • Period 4 Later Europe, Americas, 1750-1980 C.E.
  • Period 5: Indigenous Americas, 1000 B.C.E. to 1980 C.E.
  • Period 6 Africa, 1100 – 1980 C.E.
  • Period 7 Central Asia, 500 B.C.E. to 1980 C.E.
  • Period 8 South East, Southeast Asia, 300 B.C.E. to 1980 C.E.
  • Period 9 The Pacific 700 to 1980 C.E.
  • Period 10 Global Contemporary 1980 C.E. Present

What is the difficulty of AP Art History? Three Key Factors

AP classes, which include AP Art History, can be more difficult than other high school courses. AP classes can be decided by researching the course material, exam pass rates, and evaluating your skills.


The Pass Rate

Only 12% of AP Art History exam-takers achieved a perfect score in May 2021 and approximately 55% received a passing score greater than 3. Only 13 AP exams had a lower passrate in 2021.


Comparatively, only 17% of students who took other AP tests achieved a perfect score and 64% passed their exams with a score 3 or higher. This indicates that the AP Art History course may be more challenging than other AP courses.


AP Art History55.3%12.0%
All AP Classes64.2%16.8%

Source College Board


Exam pass rates do not tell the entire story about course difficulty. Each school is unique and every teacher presents the AP Art History course material differently.


The Course Material

AP Art History is a comprehensive examination that covers all aspects of human artistic expression. The College Board has compiled a list with 250 works of architecture and art for students to study in preparation for the exam.


It can be difficult for some to understand and remember 250 works of art’s artistic style, material use, and cultural relevance. To prepare to take the exam, learners should expect to complete many writing assignments.


Your subject skills

Like other AP courses in history, AP Art History emphasizes analysis, comparisons, research, writing, and writing. Learners must be able analyze and present historical arguments, and defend them.


AP Art History, unlike other history courses, requires that students remember multiple images and the supporting information for each. It is helpful to have previous experience in evaluating similarities and dissimilarities between art and architecture.


When should you take AP Art History?

Depending on the school you attend, you may be able to enroll in AP Art History as early at ninth grade. Unless you have a strong background in world history, it’s probably best to take AP Art History after having completed a year or so of high school history.


You might want to take an AP course first before you attempt AP Art History. This will allow you to adjust to AP-level work. Talk to your teachers if you plan to take multiple AP courses at once so you can prepare for your AP exams.


Exam AP Art History: What You Need To Know

Over 20,000 students took AP Art History in May 2021. 55.3% earned a passing grade. Let’s look at the structure and scoring of the exam.



Source College Board


How is the AP Art History Exam Structured

The AP Art History exam takes three hours. Section I is composed of 80 multiple-choice question focused on images that students have been studying throughout the year. This section is only for students who have an hour to complete. (In comparison, AP US History and AP World History students only have 55 minutes to complete this section. They can answer 55 multiple-choice question.


Section II includes six free-response questions. The first two sections are essay questions, while the rest are shorter essay questions. Each essay covers a different skill in art historical thinking. Five of the questions are illustrated. Section II can be completed in two hours by students.


  • Section I: 80 multiple-choice questions (60 minutes)
  • Section II: 6 free-response questions (2 hours)

What Scores is the AP Art History Exam?

The final score is based on a scale from 1 to 5, with 5 being best. The section I multiple-choice questions account for half of the total score. The total score also includes 50% for Section II. Below is the table that shows the weighting per question.


Multiple-choice questions can be difficult for students who answer them slowly. Students with little experience in writing different types of essays might have trouble writing all six essays within two hours.


Section 150%
Multiple-choice questions50%
Section 250%
Comparison Long Essay11.8%
Visual/Contextual Analysis Long Essay8.8%
Visual Analysis Short Essay7.4%
Contextual Analysis Short Essay7.4%
Attribution Short Essay7.4%
Short Essay on Continuity & Change7.4%

Source: College Board


AP Art History: What score do I need to earn college credit?

The school that awards college credit for AP exams varies. The College Board states that passing scores of 3 and 4 are acceptable, but not all colleges will grant course credits for 3 or 4. Some colleges might not give credit for the AP Art History exam.


Checking out the websites of prospective schools is a great way to determine how many credits you will get. Higher AP exam scores may result in higher credits.


Should I take AP Art History?

self-assessment is a good way to decide whether you want to take AP Art History. High school students will find this course and the exam challenging.


Students who have strong writing skills and a background in history are more likely to succeed. Students who don’t have an interest in architecture and art from different periods might struggle to succeed in this course.


Talking to teachers and former students is a great way to find out more about the school’s AP Art History course. Ask past students and teachers about the class’s workload and what they expect from it.

is ap art history hard

Is AP Art History really worth it?

Although it is difficult, AP Art History might be well worth your effort. Colleges are looking for students who can challenge themselves through taking AP courses.AP Art History can help you improve your writing skills. Taking the AP Art History exam will allow you to earn college credit. This will help you save time and money while completing your degree.

Additionally, you will learn about the connections between art, culture, history. This knowledge is useful for future courses, as well as when you visit museums or historical sites or travel to other countries.

Is AP Art History considered an art credit?

Colleges consider a range of factors when deciding what credit they will grant to students who score high on the AP exam. For a particular score on the AP Art History exam, some colleges grant art credit.Some grant credit in art history, while others prefer studio art. Others grant elective credit in fine arts electives and general electives. Talk to your potential schools for more information.

Is it necessary to make or draw art for AP Art History?

AP Art History students do not have to draw or create art. They examine and analyze art and architecture from many cultures and historical periods. AP Art History does not require you to be a skilled artist.

What exactly AP Art History course is?

In the AP art history course, you will explore everything from prehistory to the present across the six continents. It includes researching, reading, discussing, write about the artist, art, and your response to and interpretation of the art. You will start developing the pattern and connections across history.

Also, students will focus on how to learn, evaluate, contextualize, interpret, and compare the works of art and architecture. They also focus on developing the learner understanding of artistic traditions.

This ap art history course is not simply about learning but analyzing art and architecture, which helps to understand the relationship between art and artistic styles. So, here are the following periods and geographical locations covered by the course;

Period 1: Global prehistory, 30,000 to 500 B.C.E.

Period 2: Ancient Mediterranean, 3, 5000 B.C.E. to 300 C.E.

Period 3: Early Europe and Colonial America, 200 to 1750 C.E.

Period 4: Later Europe and Americas, 1750 to 1980 C.E.

Period 5: Indigenous Americas, 1000 B.C.E. to 1980 C.E.

Period 6: Africa, 1100 to 1980 C.E.

Period 7: West and Central Asia, 500 B.C.E. to 1980 C.E.

Period 8: South, East, and Southeast Asia, 300 B.C.E. to 1980 C.E.

Period 9: The Pacific, 700 to 1980 C.E.

Period 10: Global Contemporary, 1980 C.E. to present

Factors that determine the difficulty of the subject:

The AP history art is more challenging when compared to the other typical high school courses, and here are the factors that tell what makes the subject more difficult.

  • Pass grade

The examination conducted in May 2021 results reveals that only 12% of the students earned a perfect score and the other 55% of students earned a passing score of 3 or higher. When analyzing the other AP exams, 17% of students earned a perfect score and 64% of students got a score of 3 or higher.

This clearly tells the difficulty of the subject when compared to the other AP courses.

  • Course material

The AP Art history covers the entire expanse of human artistic expression and in college, you can easily understand and remember the artistic style, materials used, and cultural relevance of 250 artworks which will be difficult for some other students.

  • Subject skills

Like other AP history courses, this ap art history also includes emphasizes analysis, comparison, research, and writing skills. The students need to remember many images and also the information related to each one. They need to compare and contrast the works of art and architecture so that they can easily pick the similarities and differences.


Format structure of the exam:

Before appearing for the exam, it would be the best idea to know about the exam format and make a plan on how to earn a perfect score and what kind of questions need to be attended.

  • First, it includes 80 multiple choice questions and the students will get 60 minutes to complete them
  1. There will be 40 questions which will be put around together in 3-4 sets based on the color images of art
  2. Also, there will be 40 individual questions centered around color images of the art
  • Next, there will be 6 free response questions and students will get 120 minutes to complete them all
  1. Question 1 is a long essay and it is a comparison type, and the students are suggested to spend 35 minutes on it
  2. Question 2 is also a long essay but it is a visual and contextual analysis, and this question requires 25 minutes
  3. Questions 3 to 6 are short essays and for each question, you will be spending 15 minutes
  4. Question 3 will focus on describing using visual analysis
  5. Question 4 focuses on describing based on contextual analysis
  • Question 5 focuses on attribution
  1. Question 6 is based on analyzing continuity and change

Tips to pass the exam:

  • You need to get your study notes from various sources like a notebook, textbook, prep book, and other kinds of physical materials. Also, create a space where you can track the notes
  • You need to study daily even at home which you should make a regular routine. If you follow the routine, it will make you keep a track
  • Set a goal, you need to set x number of times in a timer, and within that you need to finish one unit. Give a reward for yourself and this tip helps you to stay focused
  • There are more than thousands of students all around the world preparing for the AP exams like you. You can get help from them and also form a study group and review materials together

Can you take an ap art history course?

If you are planning to take the ap art history course, then you need to do a proper self-assessment and gather information as much as possible. When compared to the other AP courses, this course will be more challenging for high school students.

The students should have strong writing skills, excellent background in the world interest, and should have more interest in art and architecture is likely to be succeeding easily. If the students don’t have any interest in art and architecture then they will suffer more.

Before taking the course, you can have a detailed conversation with the teachers and past students regarding the workload and what to expect in the class.


You can check out my post on is the AP World History exam hard.

About me
sarah lim
I'm Sarah Lim
My Skills

Web Developer

Social Media + SEO