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Is AP World History Hard? Expert Discussion

Apr 5, 2023

Is AP World History hard? It sounds like AP World History can be a challenging course for many students. Well, there is so much to cover in the AP exam. You have to study the history of humanity – a span of around one thousand years. But how much information do you require? How do people typically perform on the AP exam? To judge how hard AP World History is, let’s look at five major aspects. 

Is the AP World History Exam Hard: 5 Major Aspects

Before we respond to the question, “Is AP World History hard?,” let’s discuss the five major aspects that affect how hard a specific AP class is. These key aspects have been split into three categories.


Category 1: Statistical Testing

This section focuses on concrete information about students’ AP examination performance.

Aspect 1: Passing Rate

The passing rate is the ratio of total students scoring three or higher on a specific AP exam. If taken in context, a low passing rate means a challenging test; nevertheless, more common classes can have artificially low passing rates since there are more under-prepared students in the test-takers pool. As a result, taking an AP exam’s passing rate into account is crucial.


Aspect 2: Getting a Perfect Score

The five rates are the proportion of students who score perfectly on an AP exam. Because it demonstrates how challenging it is to grasp the content, this may be a little more reliable indicator of complexity than the passing rate. However, it is crucial to remember that a class’s significance might also impact the five rates.

Category 2: Subjective and Objective Evaluation of the Content

As per students and teachers, these next two aspects have to do with how hard AP World History material is.


Aspect 3: Difficulty of Objective Content

It is defined by the subject’s depth and the abilities needed to succeed in the class. Courses with a lot of complex material will be harder to complete. These principally advanced courses occasionally have surprisingly high passing rates, and even five rates, since only the most determined students are interested in participating.

Aspect 4: Testimonials from Students

Student perceptions of the class should also be considered in addition to an unbiased evaluation of the material. Is there a high school workload? Do you always have to work on projects? Even if the material isn’t particularly complex, these elements can significantly alter the amount of time needed for the lesson.


Category 3: Time Management 

Aspect 5: Timing

The student’s attendance at the training also affects the difficulty level of the exam. If a student is in his sophomore or freshman year, he may find the material more challenging because he is not yet accustomed to taking AP classes.

Suppose students are persuaded to hold out until their junior or senior year to enrol in the course. In that case, they might correlate their experience with other AP classes and make a more accurate assessment of the difficulty level of AP World History. 


Is the AP World History Exam Hard?

While preparing for this subject and examination, you are dealing with roughly 800 years of human history. It is a new, more focused scope with the 2020 examination, now known as AP World History: Modern (earlier, it was known as AP World History: Ancient Development). Earlier, the examination covered the history of thousands of years; now, the subject matter is probably much easier for students to understand.

But covering 800 years in a single lesson would be a massive undertaking. Fortunately, the AP World History course focuses on understanding long-term historical trends and determining how the six-course themes link to the events covered in the nine sections and their associated periods. It differs slightly from courses like AP US History and AP Euro, which emphasise details more. 


Generally, AP World History requires deep thinking about the significance of various themes at specific historical moments. The material isn’t as difficult as it first appears because you don’t have to memorise everything that has happened to be effective. You must understand the historical moments to score well in the examination.

Whether AP World History is hard or not will rely partly on your writing and analytical abilities. If you’re good at these areas, AP World History should be manageable. The class will probably be harder if you have problems answering unclear theme topics and are more towards memorising facts.


How is AP World History Hard – Student’s Opinion

Students often perceive AP World History as a medium-difficulty course with straightforward topics but a substantial workload. In contrast to courses like AP US History and AP European History, it provides a more comprehensive picture of history, as was described in the preceding section.

The essay questions in AP World History are more open-ended and less frequently require particular information. Once you have a good command of major themes and know how to connect significantly with historical happenings, you might be able to answer most of the questions presented in the examination.

Though, there is undoubtedly a lot of information to cover. Therefore, you need to read frequently for the exams. You’ll need to invest a lot of time and energy, even if you’re not having trouble mastering the material.

Most students enrol in AP World History in tenth grade, making them first-year students with little previous AP education. Students are advised to enrol in this course before AP US History, commonly taken in the junior year, indicating that it is more of a foundational course.

Particularly, these youngsters don’t consider AP World History hard, which supports the assertion that the difficulty level is somewhere in the middle.

Informative details:

Why do students believe the class isn’t that challenging?

Because AP World History is one of the first classes most students take, History teachers may give them in-class tasks that are less difficult than the content on the exam. Since the knowledge is delivered in smaller sections during class, it tends to be less conceptually driven and more assumption than during the exam.

Is AP World History Hard for You?

After considering the aforementioned factors, you should analyse your circumstances. Every student has unique skills and weaknesses, and every school approaches the AP World History course uniquely.

The following steps will help you determine whether AP World History is hard for you.

1: Consult Experienced People about the Class

Consulting other experienced students who have already taken the course for their thoughts is the most effective way to determine whether the course will be challenging or not. By asking them, you can also find out what your present history teacher thinks about the world history course your school is offering and whether they believe it will be doable for you.

You might even discuss your possibilities with your guidance counsellor, who should know how you could perform in the course based on their interactions with other students.

2: Consider your Academic Pluses and Minuses

If you have excellent critical reading and writing skills, you’ll probably find this class easier in comparison to someone who battles with writing and prefers questions with simple solutions. Students with strong English skills shouldn’t have much trouble passing this course. As already said, the ability to relate the course’s concepts to historical events is more crucial than memorising facts.

3: Balance of your Schedule

If you are enrolled in other classes that require a lot of writing and memory, it might be more difficult for you to manage this one. Due to the enormous amount of work, taking AP World History and another AP history class (European or US) or any AP English classes would be very difficult. However, this also varies on how your school’s teacher organizes the class and the amount of work you can anticipate each week.


According to the factors reviewed in this article, AP World History is a medium to difficult course. The statistical reports show that the test is difficult, but many students take it. Many are still in the lower classes and aren’t used to APs.

The course material itself is also not as challenging as you may anticipate. The course is more about making sense of core concepts instead of truly remembering everything that has happened. Additionally, thanks to the revisions made in the 2020 examinations,  students don’t need to worry about studying thousands of years of human history.

Overall, if you work on improving your analytical skills, you’ll probably do great in AP World History.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How challenging is the AP World History exam to score a five?

Ans. The AP World History exam is difficult; in 2021, just 9.7% of examinees received a five on the scale. But if you do your homework all year, you might be one of the select few students to ace this exam.

2. Is AP US History more difficult than AP World History?

Ans. Most people would claim that AP US History is tougher than AP World History because it emphasises more specifics, but it depends on your skills and experience.

3. Is AP World History open to first-year students?

Ans. For their history course, first-year students often have the option of taking AP World History or regular/honours World History. Similar to seniors, juniors typically have the option of taking normal US History, AP US History or IB History of the Americas.

Is AP World History Hard


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