Published February 16, 2024

Everything You Need to get a 5 on AP African American Studies


Natasha Potter

MSU Alumni, Creative Advertising Major, Marketing Associate at Knowt 😃

Hey there! This article is all about our tips for how to study for the AP African American Studies exam to get a solid 5. I'll break down the tricks, so with the right strategies and resources, nailing the exam is totally doable!

Free AP African American Studies Resources

Hey, no worries if you're in a last-minute cramming session for AP African American Studies! We totally get it, and trust me, we've all been there too! So, if you're wondering how to ace the AP African American exam when you're running out of time, here are some awesome resources and AP African American exam tips created by fellow students that will help you cram like a boss.

What Do I Need to Memorize for the AP African American Studies Exam?

The AP African American Studies course is structured around four comprehensive units that delve into the diverse experiences of African Americans from the diaspora to contemporary times. 

  1. Unit 1, titled "Origins of the African Diaspora," explores the strength and complexity of early African societies, early West African empires, kingdoms, and city-states, as well as early African and global politics, constituting 20-25% of the exam score. 

  2. Unit 2, "Freedom, Enslavement, and Resistance," covers topics such as Atlantic Africans and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, the Middle Passage, slavery's impact on labor and American law, slave culture, resistance strategies, and abolition, contributing to 30-35% of the exam score. 

  3. In Unit 3, "The Practice of Freedom," students examine Reconstruction and Black politics, Black life during the Nadir, racial uplift, the New Negro Renaissance, and migrations with Black internationalism, comprising 20-25% of the exam score. 

  4. Finally, Unit 4, "Movements and Debates," explores anticolonial movements, the early Black Freedom Movement, the Long Civil Rights Movement, Black Power and Pride, Black women's voices in society and leadership, diversity within Black communities, and the intersections of identity, culture, and connection, making up the remaining 20-25% of the exam score. For additional details on the content and sources within each unit, students are encouraged to refer to the AP African American Studies course overview.

AP African American Studies Exam Format

The AP African American Studies examination is comparatively concise, with a duration of two hours and 30 minutes. Students' grades are determined by their proficiency in three distinct sections, which include 60 multiple-choice questions, 4 free-response questions, and the submission of 1 project or written argument. The latter is prepared in advance of the exam but submitted along with it. Check out the breakdown of the exam and learn which AP African American studies exam tips will work best for you. 

Multiple Choice Section

In the Multiple Choice Section of the AP African American Studies exam, you'll encounter 60 questions grouped into sets of three or four, each related to a stimulus. These stimuli can be anything from historical primary sources and literary materials to maps, charts, or images of art and architecture. Interestingly, about half of the stimulus materials may be familiar to you if you've covered the required course content. Moreover, be on the lookout for four or five sets of questions that prompt you to respond to paired stimuli, such as two images or a combination of text and an image.

Free Response Section

Now, onto the Free Response Section – it's got four questions lined up for you. Plan to dedicate 20 minutes to each question. The first one will dive into a text-based source, the second will throw a non-text-based source your way, and the third and fourth questions will get you pondering broader thematic topics. Easy peasy, right?

Project or Written Argument 

Now, let's chat about the Project or Written Argument – it's a cool twist in this new exam. So, during the course and leading up to the big day, you're supposed to pick a research topic. Then, dive into the world of primary and secondary sources, gather your findings, and whip up a solid written argument backed by evidence. Aim for 1200-1500 words and toss in at least four scholarly sources. The College Board throws out some ideas, like digging into the role of religion in African American resistance, the G.I. Bill's impact, redlining's legacy, movements led by Black women, the Harlem Renaissance, 20th-century Black families, and hot topics like the Tuskegee Study, Henrietta Lacks, and the scoop on gay life in Black communities. 

How should I study for the AP African American Studies Exam?

In AP African American Studies, we're diving into a bit of everything! Expect a mix of history, literature, visuals, and data analysis. We'll be checking out cool stuff daily, and teaching you how to prepare for the AP African Studies exam with amazing AP African American Studies exam tips:

  • Digging into artifacts from the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture.

  • Getting to know African artworks from the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

  • Flipping through sketches of the Amistad trial from Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

  • Chatting about the writings of Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, and Maya Angelou.

  • Reading original newspaper and magazine articles from way back in the day, including debates in Freedom’s Journal.

  • Breaking down the Thirteenth, Fourteenth, and Fifteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

  • Checking out excerpts from Carter G. Woodson’s The Mis-Education of the Negro.

  • Getting into Martin Luther King Jr.’s “Nonviolence and Racial Justice” from 1957 to understand the Civil Rights Movement better.

  • Analyzing cool artworks like "Negro es Bello II" by Elizabeth Catlett and "I Go To Prepare A Place For You" by Bisa Butler.

When do AP African American scores come out?

Scores will typically come out in July every year, but you can also refer to the official CollegeBoard Annual calendar to monitor any chances.

How to pass the AP African American Studies exam? 

Let's break down the steps for tackling the AP African American Studies exam in a chill way.

Step 1: Figure Out Your Skills

Start with a formative or diagnostic assessment to kick off your prep journey. Knowing where you're at helps you figure out where you gotta go. These assessments spill the beans on your strengths and where you can level up, giving you the lowdown for your study game.

By the way, no practice exams for our AP African American Studies gang just yet. But, come Winter/Spring 2024, the College Board should be dropping some examples for us to vibe with.

Step 2: Dive into the Material

Once your assessment spills the tea, you'll spot areas needing TLC. It could be content stuff, like the Civil Rights Movement mysteries, or maybe it's more about the vibe – like if decoding images and propaganda is throwing you off.

When you know your struggle spots, hit the books, and tap into all the resources in your arsenal. Snag some commercial study guides or check out freebies from other AP African American Studies pros online.

Step 3: Crush Multiple Choice Questions

Here's the scoop on multiple choice questions – you've got the lowdown on most of the stimuli. The College Board promises that half the multiple-choice sets will be about stuff you've already seen in your required course materials.

So, dive into those course materials and get cozy with every graph, image, and text. To gear up for curveballs, throw in some external stimuli and cook up your own questions. Trust me, when you're dealing with an exam that's all about how you think, creating your own Qs is as key as nailing the ones they throw at you.

Step 4: Ace Free Response Questions

In the free response zone, the magic is in how you spill your argument. Make it clear, make it pop – something an AP reader can gobble up without a headache. As you tackle free response questions, let your peeps read your answers. Friends, family, classmates, teachers – they're the ones with the real talk on where you're nailing it or where you gotta spill more ink. Too many peeps lose points 'cause they're not shouting their thoughts loud enough. So, when you're flexing those free response muscles, it's not just about nailing an image's purpose or a text's argument – it's also about spilling the tea on how you figured it out.

Step 5: Hit Another Practice Test

Round two of practice tests – this is where you see how far you've rolled since you started grinding. Spot the patterns, see where you're shining, and where you need a bit more glow-up. It's like your progress report, guiding where to drop your energy for the next round of prep. Easy peasy, right?

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