👋🏼 Hi, I’m Steven Kucklick! I’m an AP European History teacher from Columbia, South Carolina and streamer at Fiveable. This year’s exam is different than we expected, but I’m here to help. I’ve put together this study guide to help keep you on track while you are studying from home. You can follow this guide on your own with a free Fiveable account! I’ll also be joining a group of students live on Tuesdays @ 9pm ET during cram sessions. Pick up your cram pass to join us.

Format of the New Exam

This year, the AP European History exam will look different than you were expecting. As we’re all on quarantine 😷 due to COVID-19, the College Board has decided to update the format and content of the test to fit an online testing format.

You’ll have 45-minutes to take the exam online and it will only cover units 1-7. If you have already studied content from unit 8 or 9, don’t stress! It’s all worth knowing. With the crisis we have now, cities and industries will be immensely impacted. Your knowledge will help you make sense of it all. You just won’t be tested on it.

These units are on the exam. Click the unit to see the study guide! (new unit guides coming soon!)

1 – 🎨  Renaissance and Age of Exploration
2 – 💒  Reformation and Wars of Religion
3 – 👑  Absolutism and Constitutionalism
4 – 🤔  Scientific Rev and Enlightenment
5 – 🥖  Old Regime, French Revolution, Napoleon
6 – 🚂  Industrial Revolution and Age of Isms
7 – ✊🏽  Unifications and Political Developments

These units will not be on the exam:

8 – 💣  The World Wars and the Russian Revolution
9 – 🇪🇺  The Cold War and the Modern Era

As of March 20th, we know the test will ONLY include free-response questions and no multiple-choice questions. However, we don’t know yet exactly what this will look like. 

Some questions we still have:

  • How many FRQs will be on the exam?
  • Will each question be timed or can you jump between them within 45 minutes?
  • Will the questions be structured like normal FRQs?

College Board will post answers to these questions by April 3 here. We’ll update you as soon as we know. For now, focus on reviewing the content on the exam. You’ll have time in April/May to practice questions and prepare for the format.   

When is the exam and how do I take it?

These questions will also be answered on April 3. The test will be online so you can take it at home. Most likely it will be accessible from a computer or phone. No other details have been shared yet, but we’ll post updates as soon as we have them!

I have more questions!

We do too. There are lots of unanswered questions right now about how this will work, how they will prevent cheating, if scoring will be the same, how it will be graded, when scores will be ready, if colleges will be okay with these changes, etc. Rest assured that College Board is working on answers to everything. The best thing you can do right now is to focus on what you can control. Review the content and practice self-care.

How do I prepare for the exam?

With so many school closures and the stress of a global pandemic, this review season will be different than usual. If this is your first AP exam, welcome! Don’t worry, it’s not usually this chaotic. 

We’ve put together this plan for you to follow between now and May. This will cover all of the units and leave you time to practice questions before test day. Some classes may have done units out of chronological order throughout the year, which is ok. The units don’t have to be taught in order. If you are learning new material on your own and need some help, use the chat bubble on http://fiveable.me. We’ll answer any questions you may have. 

What resources does this study plan use?

All of the required resources are free. You’ll need to create a free Fiveable account to jump in.  We’ve also linked a few other websites, articles, and YouTube videos that you can access for free. Some of the suggested resources include paid products. There are some documentaries that you can find on streaming sites with a paid membership and we’ll also list streams and practice questions that require a paid cram pass on Fiveable.



Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means you’ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual. 

🖥 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. 


📚 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 your self set up!


📅 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.


🏆 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!


🎨 UNIT 1: Renaissance and Exploration


Big takeaways:

Unit 1 covers three main areas of content. First, it introduces us to Europe and briefly covers the end of the Middle Ages. This first area of content predominantly focuses on the crises of the Late Middle Ages (Bubonic Plague, 100 Years War, and Peasant Revolts) and sets the stage for the birth of the Modern Era. Secondly, this unit covers the Italian and Northern Renaissance. Not only is this focused on artistic developments, but also social and political changes. Finally, this unit covers the Age of Exploration and the broad impacts that it has on the continent. 


Content to focus on: 

  • 🏰 End of the Middle Ages: 
    • Don’t worry too much about specific knowledge, but instead have a broad understanding of the impacts of the crises of the late Middle Ages.
  • 🖼 Renaissance
    • Have a good understanding of the differences between the Italian Renaissance and Northern Renaissance. Pay close attention to Italian Humanists vs Christian Humanists. 
    • Have a good understanding of the major themes of the Renaissance including: 
      • Humanism
      • Greek and Roman influence
      • Machiavelli
      • Print Culture
    • Artistic change is important, but be sure to focus on artistic themes and developments 
  • ⛵️ Age of Exploration
    • The big focus for the Age of Exploration is the causes and effects. What led to the Age of Exploration and how was Europe and the world changed because of it? 
    • Causes: 
      • Technological advancements
      • New Monarchies
    • Effects
      • New Rivalries 
      • The Columbian Exchange and Triangle Trade
      • The Slave Trade
      • The Commercial Revolution
      • Shifting the political balance in Europe

Resources to Use