AP European History Exam Information

Learn What Score You'll Need and What Course Credit You'll Receive

Elevated view of students writing their GCSE exam
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The AP European History course and exam covers cultural, intellectual, political, diplomatic, social and economic themes in Europe from 1450 to the present. The course is less popular than AP World History and AP United States History, but it still had over 100,000 students take the exam. A score of 3 or higher on the exam will often earn students either elective credits, humanities credits, or history credits in college.

About the AP European History Course and Exam

Students who take AP European History should learn the types of disciplinary practices and critical reasoning skills that are central to the study of history. The course content covers six equally important themes:

  • Interaction of Europe and the World. European exploration, trade, colonialism, and empire building all fall under this category. Students study how Europe interacted with the world since 1450, and what the impact of those interactions were on both European and non-European societies.
  • Poverty and Prosperity. These theme covers issues related to economic development and the rise of capitalism in Europe's history. Students study both the social and political impacts of economic change.
  • Objective Knowledge and Subjective Visions. This part of the course looks at changes in how knowledge was both created and transmitted in Europe. Students explore topics such as religious world views, ancient texts, scientific inquiry and experimentation, and  subjective interpretations of reality.
  • States and Other Institutions of Power. This theme covers governance and politics in Europe's history. Students explore Europe's varying forms of governance and their social, cultural, and economic impacts.
  • Individual and Society. This theme looks beyond national politics to introduce students to the changing nature of family, class status, and social groups throughout Europe's history.
  • National and European Identity. Students study the wide-ranging ways in which European's have viewed themselves. From local communities to nations to international alliances, European identities have changed radically since 1450.

The breadth of AP European History is a bit daunting. The course covers over 550 years of history for an entire continent. Both the teaching of the course and the assessment of the exam break the history down into four periods that get equal weight: 1450 to 1648, 1648 to 1815, 1815 to 1914, and 1914 to the present.

AP European History Score Information

In 2017, 105,347 students took the exam and earned a mean score of 2.81. To earn college credit or course placement, students typically need to earn a score of 3 or higher. 56 percent of students did so.

The distribution of scores for the AP European History exam is as follows (2017 data):

  • 5 - 9.3 percent
  • 4 - 18.6 percent
  • 3 - 28.0 percent
  • 2 - 31.9 percent
  • 1 - 12.1 percent

If you earn a score that isn't going to impress the college admissions folks, you can usually choose to omit it. Whereas most schools require students to submit SAT or ACT scores, AP exam scores are usually self-reported and optional.

College Credit and Course Placement for AP European History

Most colleges and universities have a history or global perspectives requirement, so a high score on the AP European History exam will sometimes fulfill one of these requirements.

The course can be particularly valuable for students who have interests in history, different cultures, global studies, government, comparative literature, political science, and many other fields.

The table below presents some representative data from a variety of colleges and universities. This information is meant to provide a general overview of the scoring and placement practices related to the AP European History exam. For schools not listed here, you'll need to search the college website or contact the appropriate Registrar's office to get AP placement information, and always check with a college to get the most up-to-date AP placement information.

AP European History Scores and Placement
CollegeScore NeededPlacement Credit
Georgia Tech4 or 5HTS 1031 (3 semester hours)
Grinnell College4 or 54 semester credits; HIS 101
LSU3, 4 or 5HIST 1003 (3 credits) for a 3; HIST 2021, 2022 (6 credits) for a 4 or 5
MIT59 general elective units; no placement
Mississippi State University3, 4 or 5HI 1213 (3 credits) for a 3; HI 1213 and HI 1223 (6 credits) for a 4 or 5
Notre Dame5History 10020 (3 credits)
Reed College4 or 51 credit; no placement
Stanford University-no credit or placement for AP European History
Truman State University3, 4 or 5HIST 133 World Civilizations, 1700 to Present (3 credits)
UCLA (School of Letters and Science)3, 4 or 58 credits and European History placement
Yale University-no credit or placement for AP European History

A Final Word About AP European History

To learn more specific information about the AP European History exam, be sure to visit the official College Board website.

Keep in mind that the most important part of a college application is your academic record. Colleges want to see that you have challenged yourself and taken the most challenging courses available to you. AP, IB, Honors, and dual enrollment courses all play an important role on this front. Even if your favorite college doesn't offer credit for AP European History, the fact that you took a college-level course will strengthen your application.