How Long Are AP Exams: Timing and Structure Explained

Nov 13, 2021 | Turito Team USA

how-long-are-ap-exams

When it comes to the AP exams, students have several questions on their minds. In case you are taking any of the AP classes this year, we are here to solve one of your queries – how long are AP exams? For it, we are going to give you an idea about the typical length and structure of the critical AP exams out there. 

Along with finding out the length and structure of the exams, we also have some bonus tips for you at the end of the post. These will help you prepare well for the AP exams and ace them. Also, we will be telling you how you can manage time for the APs and attempt them in the given time only. Without any delay, let the scrolling begin! 

A Brief Introduction About the AP Exams 

Before we move on to the most important question of today’s post – how long do AP tests take? Let us give you an insight into what these exams are.  

For those who are not aware, AP tests are those college-level exams that you can take in high school after finishing your AP course. These are scored on a scale from 1 to 5 and test your expertise in the particular subject. 

Typically, colleges and universities look at AP scores for admission. The score can also help you earn college credit or graduate early. The exam is further split into multiple choice and essay questions that you have to solve at a particular time. 

The next part of the blog focuses on telling you about the same – AP exam time and structure. 

Typical Length and Structure of AP Exams 

If you wonder “how long is the AP Calc AB exam” or “how long does the AP Psychology exam take,” you are in the right place. Typically, AP exams are between two and three hours long. Also, each of them has two sections that are separated by a break. The majority of the APs are closer to three hours long. 

After the general idea of how long AP exams are, let us get an idea about the exam structure. As mentioned above, the majority of AP tests have two sections. Almost all exams start with the multiple-choice section, and after a short break, there is the free-response section. The number of questions for each section and the time to solve them varies as per the subject for which you are taking the AP exam. 

For instance, do you know “how long is the AP lang exam?” Let us tell you about it. This is a humanities subject. If you are taking up an AP exam for any of these subjects, the free-response section tends to be longer. For the AP Language exam, the multiple-choice section is only one hour long. In comparison, the free-response or essay section is two hours. 

The same goes for the AP English Literature test. The AP US and World History exams, on the other hand, have an even shorter multiple-choice section – 55 minutes. The free-response section is two hours here, as well. Alternatively, when it comes to science subjects, things are reversed. Here, the multiple-choice section can or cannot be longer. 

For instance, for AP Biology, there are 90 minutes of multiple-choice questions. The free-response section is of the same period, as well. However, the reading time is included in it. For Chemistry, on the other hand, the section is of 105 minutes. Further, when it comes to Math, both the sections are generally weighted equally. 

So, How Long Are AP Exams? 

From all the details about the typical AP exam time and structure, it is clear that the length of each exam varies. In general, the time range of each test is between 1 hour and 30 minutes to 3 hours and 15 minutes. Now, to give you a clear idea about how long each AP exam is, here is all the data for the same. Have a look: 

  • Biology: 3 hours 
  • Chemistry: 3 hours 15 minutes 
  • Environmental Science: 3 hours 
  • Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism: 1 hour 30 minutes 
  • Physics C: Mechanics: 1 hour 30 minutes 
  • Physics 1: Algebra-Based: 3 hours 
  • Physics 2: Algebra-Based: 3 hours 
  • Psychology: 2 hours 
  • Calculus AB: 3 hours 15 minutes 
  • Calculus BC: 3 hours 15 minutes 
  • Computer Science A: 3 hours 
  • Computer Science Principles: 2 hours 
  • Chinese Language and Culture: 2 hours 15 minutes 
  • Art History: 3 hours 
  • Comparative Government and Politics: 2 hours 25 minutes 
  • English Language and Composition: 3 hours 15 minutes 
  • English Literature and Composition: 3 hours 
  • European History: 3 hours 15 minutes 
  • French Language and Culture: 3 hours 
  • German Language and Culture: 3 hours 
  • Human Geography: 2 hours 15 minutes 
  • Italian Language and Culture: 3 hours 
  • Japanese Language and Culture: 2 hours 15 minutes 
  • Latin: 3 hours 
  • Macroeconomics: 2 hours 10 minutes 
  • Microeconomics: 2 hours 10 minutes 
  • Music Theory: 2 hours 40 minutes 
  • Spanish Language and Culture: 3 hours 
  • Spanish Literature and Culture: 3 hours 
  • Statistics: 3 hours 
  • US Government and Politics: 2 hours 25 minutes 
  • US History: 3 hours 15 minutes 
  • World History: 3 hours 15 minutes  

What Is the Exact Format of Each AP Exam? 

After the time periods for each exam, let us see about their format. Typically, most exams have two sections only – free-response and multiple-choice. However, for some subjects, there are some additional sections like the short answer segments and other tasks in the language courses. Below, you can find subject-wise details about the same. 

AP Art History 

  • The multiple-choice section has 80 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has six questions to be solved in 2 hours and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Music Theory 

  • The multiple-choice section has 75 questions to be solved in 1 hour and 20 minutes and carries 45% of the score. 
  • The free-response written section has seven questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 45% of the score. 
  • The free-response sight-singing section has two questions to be solved in 10 minutes and carries 10% of the score.   

AP English Language and Composition 

  • The multiple-choice section has 45 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 45% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 2 hours and 15 minutes and carries 55% of the score.  

AP English Literature and Composition 

  • The multiple-choice section has 55 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 45% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 2 hours and carries 55% of the score.    

AP Comparative Government and Politics 

  • The multiple-choice section has 55 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has four questions to be solved in 2 hours 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP European History 

  • The multiple-choice section has 55 questions to be solved in 55 minutes and carries 40% of the score. 
  • The short answer section has three questions to be solved in 40 minutes and carries 20% of the score.  
  • The free-response section has two questions to be solved in 1 hour and 40 minutes and carries 40% of the score. 

AP Human Geography 

  • The multiple-choice section has 60 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 1 hour 15 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Macroeconomics 

  • The multiple-choice section has 60 questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 67% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 33% of the score.   

AP Microeconomics 

  • The multiple-choice section has 60 questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 67% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 33% of the score.    

AP Psychology 

  • The multiple-choice section has 100 questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 67% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has two questions to be solved in 50 minutes and carries 33% of the score.    

AP United States Government and Politics 

  • The multiple-choice section has 55 questions to be solved in 1 hour 20 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has four questions to be solved in 1 hour and 40 minutes and carries 50% of the score.  

AP United States History 

  • The multiple-choice section has 55 questions to be solved in 55 minutes and carries 40% of the score. 
  • The short answer section has three questions to be solved in 40 minutes and carries 20% of the score.  
  • The free-response section has two questions to be solved in 1 hour and 40 minutes and carries 40% of the score.  

AP World History (Modern) 

  • The multiple-choice section has 55 questions to be solved in 55 minutes and carries 40% of the score. 
  • The short answer section has three questions to be solved in 40 minutes and carries 20% of the score.  
  • The free-response section has two questions to be solved in 1 hour and 40 minutes and carries 40% of the score.  

AP Calculus AB 

  • The multiple-choice section has 45 questions to be solved in 1 hour 45 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has six questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Calculus BC 

  • The multiple-choice section has 45 questions to be solved in 1 hour 45 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has six questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Computer Science A 

  • The multiple-choice section has 40 questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has four questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Computer Science Principles 

  • Performance task 1 is to be done in 12 hours and carries 24% of the score. 
  • Performance task 2 is to be done in 8 hours and carries 16% of the score. 
  • The end-of-course exam has 74 questions to be solved in 2 hours and carries 60% of the score. 

AP Statistics 

  • The multiple-choice section has 40 questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has six questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Biology 

  • The multiple-choice section has 60 questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has six questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Chemistry 

  • The multiple-choice section has 60 questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has seven questions to be solved in 1 hour 45 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Environmental Science 

  • The multiple-choice section has 80 questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 60% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 40% of the score. 

AP Physics 1 

  • The multiple-choice section has 50 questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has five questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score.  

AP Physics 2 

  • The multiple-choice section has 50 questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has four questions to be solved in 1 hour 30 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Physics C (Electricity and Magnetism) 

  • The multiple-choice section has 35 questions to be solved in 45 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 45 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Physics C: Mechanics 

  • The multiple-choice section has 35 questions to be solved in 45 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has three questions to be solved in 45 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Chinese Language and Culture 

  • The multiple-choice listening section has 20-35 questions to be solved in 20 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The multiple-choice reading section has 35-40 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response written section has two questions to be solved in 30 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response spoken section has two tasks with seven questions to be solved in 11 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 

AP French Language and Culture 

  • The multiple-choice listening section has 30 questions to be solved in 40 minutes and carries 23% of the score. 
  • The multiple-choice reading section has 35 questions to be solved in 55 minutes and carries 27% of the score. 
  • The free-response written section has two questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response spoken section has two questions to be solved in 18 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 

AP German Language and Culture 

  • The multiple-choice listening section has 30 questions to be solved in 40 minutes and carries 23% of the score. 
  • The multiple-choice reading section has 35 questions to be solved in 55 minutes and carries 27% of the score. 
  • The free-response written section has two questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response spoken section has two questions to be solved in 18 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 

AP Italian Language and Culture 

  • The multiple-choice listening section has 30 questions to be solved in 40 minutes and carries 23% of the score. 
  • The multiple-choice reading section has 35 questions to be solved in 55 minutes and carries 27% of the score. 
  • The free-response written section has two questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response spoken section has two questions to be solved in 18 minutes and carries 25% of the score.  

AP Japanese Language and Culture 

  • The multiple-choice listening section has 30-35 questions to be solved in 20 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The multiple-choice reading section has 35-40 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response written section has two tasks with seven questions to be solved in 30 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response spoken section has two tasks with five questions to be solved in 11 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 

AP Latin 

  • The multiple-choice section has 50 questions to be solved in 1 hour and carries 50% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has five questions to be solved in 2 hours and carries 50% of the score. 

AP Spanish Language and Culture 

  • The multiple-choice listening section has 30 questions to be solved in 40 minutes and carries 23% of the score. 
  • The multiple-choice reading section has 35 questions to be solved in 55 minutes and carries 27% of the score. 
  • The free-response written section has two questions to be solved in 1 hour and 10 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 
  • The free-response spoken section has two questions to be solved in 18 minutes and carries 25% of the score. 

AP Spanish Literature and Culture 

  • The multiple-choice interpretive listening section has 15 questions to be solved in 20 minutes and carries 10% of the score. 
  • The multiple-choice reading analysis section has two tasks with five questions to be solved in 11 minutes and carries 40% of the score. 
  • The free-response section has four questions to be solved in 1 hour and 40 minutes and carries 50% of the score. 

Tips to Prepare for The AP Exams 

Now that you know how long AP exams are and their structure, let us move on to how you can prepare for them to get a perfect AP score. Here are our top tips for the same: 

  • Always start your preparation for the APs early. 
  • Set aside 15 minutes or so every day to study all that you complete in the class. 
  • Refer to resources and make sure not to cram things. 
  • During your preparation, take notes and highlight important points. 
  • Use these notes later for last-minute revisions. 
  • Invest in a test prep book to review important content. 
  • Also, get practice papers and solve them. 
  • Analyze your performance and work on your weak areas. 
  • If required, take up coaching to ace the AP exams. 

Managing Time on The Test Day 

After the answer to “how long is AP exams,” one thing students must know for their respective AP exams is how to manage this time. Doing so is simple. During your preparation, solve the practice test keeping these time limits in mind. 

Also, there are simple test-day tips you need to follow. Never spend a lot of time on one question. If you find yourself stuck, move to the next question and return to it at the end. Also, divide your time as per the number of questions in the exam. Try to give each question equal time, and keep the last few minutes for a quick recheck of your paper. 

To Sum Up 

We hope you are satisfied and now have an answer to – “how long are AP exams?” Typically, the AP exams take 2-3 hours, and each of them has its unique requirements. Here is a quick recap of what the 38 exams have in common: 

  • The first part of most AP exams is the multiple-choice section. 
  • For these questions, you have to choose from 4–5 answer choices. 
  • This section is usually in paper and pencil mode. 
  • There is no negative marking for incorrect answers and unanswered questions. 
  • Your score in it depends on the number of questions answered correctly. 
  • Typically, the second section of most AP exams is the free-response section. 
  • This does not have any choices and requires you to generate your response. 
  • Your response here could be a solution to a problem, an essay, or even a spoken response. 
  • The AP Chinese and AP Japanese Language and Culture Exams occur in digital mode. 
  • For these, you have to type your responses. 
  • The section for all other AP exams is in paper and pencil mode. 

While most AP exams have all these in common, you need to check their formats individually to know how they differ from the rest for the best preparation. Good luck!


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