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Is AP European History Hard?

Mar 14, 2023

Is AP European History Hard

Before registering for an AP class, you must try to gather some information on it to assure yourself that you can handle its workload. Many schools offer AP European History, giving you a chance to sign up for it at some point in your high school career.

But is it too hard to handle? What if you aren’t good at remembering historical facts? If you have all these questions in your mind, including “is AP European history hard?”, don’t worry! In this blog, we will go about discussing the AP European History course in detail to give you some information about how hard is AP European history. 


Five Factors that Determine the Difficulty Level of an AP Class

While the topic of discussion here is “is AP euro hard?”, let us first look at the general factors that determine the difficulty level of any AP class. This information will help you understand the discussion on how hard AP European history better. 

Factor 1: Passing Rate

The scores of the AP exams range from 1-5, which is the lowest possible score, and 5 is the highest possible score. You need to score three or higher on the AP exam to pass. The classes with a lower passing rate indicate that they might be relatively more difficult than those with a higher passing rate. The problem with this is that sometimes the passing rate of harder subjects is also good. This is because the most dedicated students usually sign up for such classes.  


Factor 2: Percentage of Students Earning the Perfect Score

5 is the highest possible or perfect score on the AP test. The number of students attaining this perfect score also determines how difficult the class is. If a higher percentage of students can achieve a five in a class, it indicates that it might be relatively easier than the one in which fewer students achieve the highest score. 

Factor 3: Difficulty of the Content

This mainly depends on the syllabus the particular AP course covers and how complex the topics in that syllabus are. You might assume that less challenging classes might have higher passing and perfect score rates. However, this is not true all the time. Some AP courses with extremely challenging material also have high passing and perfect score rates because the most driven students sign up for those, not because their content is easier.


Factor 4: What do Students Think of the Class?

While this can be subjective, if you ask enough students about whether or not a certain AP class is challenging, you might be able to point out some patterns. After all, everyone’s experience comes from studying the same course and taking the same AP test. Students can have different opinions about a course depending on how good their teacher is, but at most schools, the same one or two teachers teach a particular class. 

Factor 5: Which Year do Students Take the Class in?

The last factor to consider when trying to figure out whether or not an AP class is hard is analyzing the time students take it. The classes students take in their later years tend to be considered more challenging overall, but some students might find those easier as, by then, they are habitual with dealing with AP classes and exams.


Similarly, even though AP classes taken by underclassmen might be easier, they are perceived as hard as they need to get past the learning curve of taking their first AP class. 

So How Hard is the AP European History Class?

The pass rate of the AP European History class for 2020 was around 59.2%, while the five rates were 13.7%. By analyzing this data, we can see that almost half of the students who took the AP European History test failed it, and only 13.7% of the students earned a 5. The average score comes out to be 2.95, which is below the passing score (three). So how hard is the AP European History exam?


If we compare the passing and five score rates of the AP European History class with that of other AP classes, we will find that those are significantly lower than the average. We will find that of all the 38 AP classes; only six tend to have a passing rate lower than that of AP European History. This data reveals that AP European History is quite a difficult exam.

Additionally, AP European History is significantly less popular than other AP History classes. If you want to know the answer to the question “is AP European histoty harder than ‘APUSH’?”, please read on. Ninety-four thousand three hundred thirteen students took the class in 2020. While you may think that it’s a lot, it is only a fraction of the number of students who took the other history classes.


Around 302,941 students took the AP World History exam, and 472,696 students took the AP US History class. This indicates that students who take the AP European History course, on average, have a keen interest in history as it is often taken as an elective course, unlike AP World History and AP US History, which are required classes. If students who otherwise enjoy history score low on it, it points out that the class and the test are quite hard.  

Is the AP European History Content Hard?

The content of the AP European History course is generally considered to be of medium difficulty level. However, the concepts are more in-depth and demand a deeper knowledge of the trends and events than AP World History but do not demand quite the depth of knowledge required for AP US History. It can be considered as between AP World History and AP US History.


The free-response part is particularly hard. Writing a well-supported and evidence-based coherent essay when you are under such high pressure is not easy. And the document-based question asks you to incorporate at least six of the seven sources into your essay while trying to bolster the point you are making with the help of outside knowledge. 

Generally speaking, the content is challenging in terms of the way you are asked to produce what you have learned and associate it with themes that span several historical periods. Because of the high level of thinking skills required for these types of assessments, those are usually reserved for college classes. 

What do Students Think About the AP European History Class?

The general experience of students who took the class in the past says that AP European History is not easy. However, if you have already taken another AP History class and performed well on its exam as well, you have enough time in your schedule to dedicate to the class and its exam study, and you won’t have too much to worry about.

Even though the overall material is different, the types of MCQs you are asked for and essays you are supposed to write are similar to those asked on other AP History exams. So, if you are already aware of the basics of how to write a document-based essay, you will already be equipped with the skills needed to do well on the AP European History exam. 

Additionally, a lot of students take AP European History as an elective class in their senior year. This indicates that they are already experienced with other AP classes, and they chose the class as they find it interesting. Similarly, students who are deeply interested in European history might feel that they don’t need to study for the AP exam since they already know most of the content.

This is, however, not true because the questions are asked in the exam in a more confusing way than they may think. This might be another reason for the AP European exam’s low passing rate.


So, “is AP European History hard?” To conclude, AP European History is a relatively challenging class to take. Even if you consider yourself an expert in the area, you still need to put a significant amount of effort into passing the exam. However, if you are confident about doing that and have already performed well on the other AP History exams, you wouldn’t find AP European History to be much harder than the other average AP classes. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What does the content of the AP European History contain?

The College Board says that the AP European History course contains topics on the economic, cultural, social, and political developments that have shaped Europe from 1450 to the current state. Throughout the test, students are asked to evaluate demographic charts, historical documents, and political illustrations from different historical periods. You must apply your background knowledge and conclude factual recall and deeper evaluation. 

2. Why do students who are interested in history fail AP History classes?

One reason for this is that these students think that they know a lot about history and don’t need to study hard for the AP exam. The questions on the US European History exam are a lot harder than they think. Analytical and other kinds of skills are also required that the students may not be prepared for. 

3. Which students perform better on the AP European History exam?

Apart from the students who have studied hard for the exam, the ones who have registered for other AP History classes before tend to perform better on the AP European History exam. They will have a more positive reply to the question, “is the AP euro exam hard?”

Is AP European History Hard


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