⏱️ 7 min read
November 19, 2020
Thinking about self-studying AP European History? If the course isn't available at your school or if you're homeschooled, self-studying is the perfect alternative!
It's important to understand what comes with self-studying to adequately prepare yourself for the process. Consider what you would like to get out of self-studying the course.
Fiveable is here to help you get the most out of your experience and overcome any challenges you may face!
Can learn new skills, such as discipline and time management
The College Board's CED is the core document used by teachers to structure their own classes, but it can be overwhelming on page 1 of 285. As a student, you might have trouble understanding the technical language of the CED at first, but don't let that discourage you!
If you have the time toward the beginning of the self-studying process, browse through the CED, and find the sections that will help you the most. Alternatively, you could use the CED to ensure that you covered all the required content prior to reviewing for the exam.
Use the CED to learn about the typical structure of the course and the expected structure of the exam, which are outlined below to get you started.
AP European History Course
|Unit Title||Time Period||Exam Weighting|
|Unit 1: Renaissance and Exploration||c. 1450 – c. 1648||10–15%|
|Unit 2: Age of Reformation||c. 1450 – c. 1648||10–15%|
|Unit 3: Absolutism and Constitutionalism||c. 1648 – c. 1815||10–15%|
|Unit 4: Scientific, Philosophical, and Political Developments||c. 1648 – c. 1815||10–15%|
|Unit 5: Conflict, Crisis, and Reaction in the Late 18th Century||c. 1648 – c. 1815||10–15%|
|Unit 6: Industrialization and Its Effects||c. 1815 – c. 1914||10–15%|
|Unit 7: 19th-Century Perspectives and Political Developments||c. 1815 – c. 1914||10–15%|
|Unit 8: 20th-Century Global Conflicts||c. 1914 – present||10–15%|
|Unit 9: Cold War and Contemporary Europe||c. 1914 – present||10–15%|
AP European History Exam
|Section #||Question Type||Number of Questions||Exam Weighting||Timing|
|1||Multiple-Choice (MCQ)||55||40%||55 minutes|
|1||Short-Answer (SAQ)||3||20%||40 minutes|
|2||Document-Based (DBQ)||1||25%||60 minutes (recommended)|
|2||Long-Essay (LEQ)||1||15%||40 minutes (recommended)|
Course at a Glance: pg. 24–27
This layout provides an overview of each unit and its topics. Reference this chart to plan your next steps.
Exam Overview: pg. 235–240
This section breaks down every part of the exam and what knowledge is being tested. Take the time to work through all of the information and understand the format.
If you're self-studying, one of the best resources that you can create for yourself is a study schedule. This study schedule will look different for every student, but make sure that you define a clear and realistic structure that includes all of the information you'll need for convenience.
The CED will be very helpful during this step of self-studying! You can determine how long you should focus on certain concepts and build a sense of familiarity with the course. Remember to account for your classes and activities, breaks, and review time before the exam. Find what works for you and make the study schedule your own!
👉 Best AP European History Textbooks and Prep Books by Thomasina Lester [link]
To have a comprehensive and structured source of content, look into textbooks and prep books. Textbooks can be incredibly expensive, but they serve as a good option if you can find one for a fair price or if your school can provide one. A good alternative is a prep book, as they are more affordable and cover the most important information of the course.
For a list of common textbooks, look under the "Example Textbook List" tab from the College Board.
Here are a few of the most popular prep books:
Videos are a great alternative to lectures or explanations provided by a teacher! Youtube is the best website to visit for these resources, but you'll need to find the ones that work for you.
Here are a few student favorites to get you started:
Watch movies and TV shows or read historical books to have fun and study the content! While you shouldn't self-study using only these resources, they can mix things up and help you remember certain events.
Here are a few recommendations that you might enjoy:
Movies and TV Shows
Take advantage of the free-response questions that the College Board releases every year! They are accompanied by samples and scoring, which makes it easy to see what the exam readers want to identify in your work.
One of the most important parts of any AP course, but especially history courses, is the ability to gain feedback from other students and teachers. While the term "self-studying" implies working alone, don’t devalue the potential of collective knowledge.
Try to find an AP World History or AP US History teacher at your school who is willing to review your free-response questions (same rubrics across courses). If you can find a teacher who has knowledge of European history, their feedback will be even better! If you're homeschooled, look into homeschooling groups or reach out to teachers at your local school who may be able to help out.
If you don't have access to teachers in your area who are able to help you in self-studying, look to the internet! Fiveable has an amazing community of students and teachers who are ready to help you. Reddit is also a great place to find fellow students, try checking out subreddits like r/APStudents or r/APEuro.
Make sure that you know the process in place to register and take the exam at the end of the school year. Contact the AP coordinator at your school to discuss the exam details, including ordering the exam and determining the exam location. If you're homeschooled, you should contact schools in your area for more information about their exam policies. Start this search early in the school year to ensure that you meet any deadlines.
Taking the leap to self-study for an AP exam, especially a content-heavy subject like a history course, is already an accomplishment! You have already shown that you have a special amount of drive and dedication. Work hard and take breaks. Remember that you are capable of success!
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