๐Ÿ“š

All Subjects

ย >ย 

๐Ÿ–ผย 

AP Art History

ย >ย 

๐Ÿ™

Exam Reviews

2021 AP Art History Exam Guide

11 min readโ€ขmarch 2, 2021


Your guide to the 2021 AP Art History exam

We know that studying for your AP exams can be stressful, but Fiveable has your back! We have created a study plan that will help you crush your AP Art History exam. We will continue to update this guide with more information about the 2021 exams, as well as helpful resources to help you score that 5. Create a Fiveable account and join our Discord to stay involved in all things AP exams! ๐Ÿ˜

Format of the 2021 AP Art History exam

This year, all AP exams will cover all units and essay types. The 2021 AP Art History exam format will be:
  • 80 Multiple choice questions with 60 minutes to complete them
    • There will be around 40 questions put together in sets of 3-6 that will be based around color images of works of art.
    • There will also be around 40 individual questions centered around color images of works of art.ย 
  • 6 Free-response questions with 120 minutes to complete them all
    • Question 1 is a long essay focusing on comparison. It is suggested you spend 35 minutes on it.
    • Question 2 is another long essay focusing on visual and contextual analysis. It is recommended you devote 25 minutes to this response.
    • Questions 3-6 are short essay questions and it is recommended that you spend 15 minutes on each one.
      • Question 3 focuses on describing using visual analysis.
      • Question 4 is based on describing using contextual analysis.
      • Question 5 focuses on attribution.
      • Question 6 is based on analyzing continuity and change.
    • Please note that on the digital exam, works of art will not be identified and students wonโ€™t be asked to provide identifying information for the art in the FRQ section.

Scoring Rubric for the 2021 AP Art History exam

View an example set of questions and the corresponding scoring guidelines from the College Board to get an idea of what they look for in your responses!
Check out our study plan below to find resources and tools to prepare for your AP Art History exam.

When is the 2021 AP Art History exam and how do I take it?

There are three different exam administrations this year and the tests will be taken in person at your school, unless your AP Coordinator has indicated otherwise. Here is what we know from College Board so far:
  • The first exam date will be in-person and on paper at your school on May 6, 2021 at 12 pm, your local time.ย 
  • The second exam date is May 19, 2021 at 4pm ET. This exam will be taken digitally at your school or home.
  • The final exam will be taken digitally at your school or your home on June 2, 2021 at 4pm ET.ย 
You will have 3 hours to take the exam. T We will have more updates from the College Board soon, but as of now this is what we know! Create a Fiveable account to get updates on the latest 2021 exam news.ย 

How should I prepare for the exam?

  • First, download the AP Art History Cram Chart PDF - a single sheet that covers everything you need to know at a high level. Take note of your strengths and weaknesses!
  • Review every unit and question type, and focus on the areas that need the most improvement. We've put together this plan to help you study between now and May. This will cover all of the units and essay types to prepare you for your exam.
  • Additionally, create your schedule ahead of time so that you can connect with other students instead of just studying alone! Join our Discord channel to talk to real students just like you studying for this exam. We have TAs in each subject channel to support you this Spring and tons of free events and pep talks.
  • Pre-work: set up your study environment

    Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means youโ€™ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual.ย 
    ๐Ÿ–ฅ Create a study space.
    Make sure you have a designated place at home to study. Somewhere you can keep all of your materials, where you can focus on learning, and where you are comfortable. Spend some time prepping the space with everything you need and you can even let others in the family know that this is your study space.ย 
    ๐Ÿ“š Organize your study materials.
    Get your notebook, textbook, prep books, or whatever other physical materials you have. Also create a space for you to keep track of review. Start a new section in your notebook to take notes or start a Google Doc to keep track of your notes. Get yourself set up!
    ๐Ÿ“… Plan designated times for studying.
    The hardest part about studying from home is sticking to a routine. Decide on one hour every day that you can dedicate to studying. This can be any time of the day, whatever works best for you. Set a timer on your phone for that time and really try to stick to it. The routine will help you stay on track.
    ๐Ÿ† Decide on an accountability plan.
    How will you hold yourself accountable to this study plan? You may or may not have a teacher or rules set up to help you stay on track, so you need to set some for yourself. First set your goal. This could be studying for x number of hours or getting through a unit. Then, create a reward for yourself. If you reach your goal, then x. This will help stay focused!
    ๐Ÿค Get support from your peers.ย 
    There are thousands of students all over the world who are preparing for their AP exams just like you! Join our Discord channel to chat, ask questions, and meet other students who are also studying for the spring exams. You can even build study groups and review material together!ย 

    AP Art History 2021 Study Plan

    ๐Ÿ—ฟ Unit 1: Global Prehistory, 3000โ€“500 BCE

    Unit Summary:

    The artists of the Paleolithic and Neolithic periods didn't have access to the same materials that we do nowadays, and instead used media, or materials, that were readily available, like natural pigments, stone, and bone. Also, people had very little time to create art before the specialization of labor, which is when people were assigned specific jobs and responsibilities. This makes the artistic works of this unit all the more impressive (cue the round of applause ๐Ÿ‘).

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read this study guide:

    If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

    ๐Ÿ’ป Learn about the best prep books so you can start studying early:

    ๐Ÿ› Unit 2: Ancient Mediterranean, 3500 BCEโ€“300 CE

    Unit Summary:

    When people ask AP Art History students about their favorite work in the course, many of them say ones from this unit, and with good reason. The ancient Mediterranean is home to some of the most renowned artworks and historical sites of all time, like the Pyramids of Giza and the Colosseum. The people of this area also developed new artistic techniques that are used to this day, showing the influence of groups like the Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Romans on art throughout history.

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:
    ๐ŸŽฅWatch these videos from the College Board:

    If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

    ๐Ÿ’ป It is never to early to want to prepare for the exam:

    โ›ช๏ธ Unit 3: Early Europe and Colonial Americas, 200โ€“1750 CE

    Unit Summary:

    Now that the Roman Empire and ancient civilizations of unit 2 have fallen (or at least settled down a little bit), we get to discover their respective countries and some new ones, too! This unit will go over the artistic movements of Europe from 200 to 1750 CE and explain how peoples' conversions to religions like Christianity and Islam and historical events influenced the art made there. Later in the unit, we'll also get to travel to European-conquered areas of the Americas and see how those traditions have syncretized with the continent's native artistic traditions.ย 

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:
    ๐ŸŽฅWatch these videos from the College Board:

    โš”๏ธ Unit 4: Later Europe and Americas, 1750โ€“1980 CE

    Unit Summary:

    In this unit, we'll get to see how different historical events and social problems from 1750 to 1980 have influenced the art made in each period and how that has influenced the works that we see today. We'll also get to see artists in each movement break traditional rules by choosing to depict subjects that have never been painted before, create new techniques, use newly invented media, and expose issues that have historically not been acknowledged.

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:
    ๐ŸŽฅWatch these videos from the College Board:

    ๐ŸŒฝ Unit 5: Indigenous Americas, 1000 BCE โ€“1980 CE

    Unit Summary:

    We're going to move on to some of the cultures that weren't covered in that section. In unit 5, we'll be exploring works made by indigenous (native) American artists, both before and after European colonization (pre-Columbian and post-Columbian), and see how the region's distinctive cultures have influenced the art made there. As we go through this unit, be sure to make note of the similarities and differences that you see between these works and those made by mestizo (part indigenous, part European) artists in Unit 4.

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:
    ๐ŸŽฅWatch these videos from the College Board:

    โšฑ๏ธ Unit 6: Africa, 1100โ€“1980 CE

    Unit Summary:

    With more than 3,000 different ethnic groups and 2,100 languages spoken on the continent ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ, Africa is extremely ethnically diverse, and we can see this through its art. Unlike in Europe, where art styles vary by nation or region (Central Europe, Western Europe, etc.), African art can look completely different in neighboring villages because of religious, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic dissimilarities.ย 

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read this study guide:
    ๐ŸŽฅWatch these videos from the College Board:

    ๐Ÿ•Œ Unit 7: West and Central Asia, 500 BCEโ€“1980 CE

    Unit Summary:

    Unit 7 may be one of the shortest units in AP Art History at 11 required works, but it still packs a mighty punch. The works from West and Central Asia are incredibly diverse in media (materials used to create a work), function, and pretty much every other identifier, which is why so many AP Art History students enjoy this part of the course.ย 

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:

    ๐Ÿ›• Unit 8: South, East, and Southeast Asia, 300 BCEโ€“1980 CE

    Unit Summary:

    In unit 7, we learned about West and Central Asia, but now, we're going to move east to the areas that we haven't explored yet; welcome to South, East, and Southeast Asia! In this unit, you'll learn about the influence of different religions and philosophies on people's beliefs and how this translates to their artworks. We'll also learn more about cross-cultural interactions on the continent between Europeans and native groups, and how this led to artistic syncretism (fusion of different cultures).

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:

    ๐Ÿš Unit 9: The Pacific, 700โ€“1980 CE

    Unit Summary:

    Spread across approximately 25,000 islands, the Pacific region is one of the most expansive and remote places studied in AP Art History. Because of this unique characteristic, many of its people have not had contact with those living in nearby areas, keeping artistic styles to their islands of origin and not allowing for syncretism (the blending of elements from another region into native art).ย 

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:
    ๐ŸŽฅWatch these videos from the College Board:

    ๐Ÿข Unit 10: Global Contemporary, 1980 CE to Present

    Unit Summary:

    This is the final unit of AP Art History (cue the round of celebratory applause ๐Ÿ‘ )! Unit 10 is a great way to finish off this course because its works are unlike any that we've seen previously with respect to theme, media (things used to make a work), and technique. Unfortunately, though, contemporary art (art made in the second half of the 20th or the 21st century) gets a bad rap from many viewers.

    Definitely do this:

    ๐Ÿ“š Read these study guides:
    ๐ŸŽฅWatch these videos from the College Board:

    If you have more time or want to dig deeper:

    ๐Ÿ’ป Use these Quizlet decks to help you study for the exam:

    Was this guide helpful?

    ๐Ÿ” Are you ready for college apps?
    Take this quiz and find out!
    Start Quiz
    FREE AP art history Survival Pack + Cram Chart PDF
    Sign up now for instant access to 2 amazing downloads to help you get a 5
    Browse Study Guides By Unit
    ๐Ÿข
    Unit 10: Global Contemporary, 1980 ce to Present
    ๐Ÿ—ฟ
    Unit 1: Global Prehistory, 30,000โ€“500 bce
    ๐Ÿ›
    Unit 2: Ancient Mediterranean, 3500 bceโ€“300 ce
    โ›ช๏ธ
    Unit 3: Early Europe and Colonial Americas, 200โ€“1750 ce
    โš”๏ธ
    Unit 4: Later Europe and Americas, 1750โ€“1980 ce
    ๐ŸŒฝ
    Unit 5: Indigenous Americas, 1000 bceโ€“1980 ce
    โšฑ๏ธ
    Unit 6: Africa, 1100โ€“1980 ce
    ๐Ÿ•Œ
    Unit 7: West and Central Asia, 500 bceโ€“1980 ce
    ๐Ÿ›•
    Unit 8: South, East, and Southeast Asia, 300 bceโ€“1980 ce
    ๐Ÿš
    Unit 9: The Pacific, 700โ€“1980 ce
    Join us on Discord
    Thousands of students are studying with us for the AP Art History exam.
    join now
    Hours Logo
    Studying with Hours = the ultimate focus mode
    Start a free study session
    ๐Ÿ“ฑ Stressed or struggling and need to talk to someone?
    Talk to a trained counselor for free. It's 100% anonymous.
    Text FIVEABLE to 741741 to get started.
    ยฉ 2021 Fiveable, Inc.