Published February 16, 2024

Everything You Need to get a 5 on AP Human Geography


Natasha Potter

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

Getting a 5 on the AP Human Geography exam can feel like an uphill mountain to climb, but with the right strategies, resources, and AP Human Geography exam tips it’s definitely possible! I took AP Human Geography not too long ago and got a 5! In this article, I’ll break down all my tips on how to pass the AP Human Geography exam, including tips for writing FRQs, understanding what human geography is all about, last-minute review resources, and some general tips!

How hard is the AP human geography exam?

Although many underclassmen take this to be their first AP class, the AP Human Geography exam is known among students to be a medium hard class.The amount of work required for the class is on the average side and straightforward, but there are a lot of topics to memorize and the best way to study for the AP Human Geography exam is to work on the large amount of content over time. In terms of pass rates, the AP Human Geography exam has a lower pass rate compared to some of the easier exams. In 2023, approximately 53.2% of students who took the exam achieved a passing score of 3 or better, with a mean score of 2.70. The exam typically has around 220,000 test-takers each year, which is average for AP exams. Understanding the content, practicing critical thinking skills, and familiarizing yourself with the exam format are key to overcoming its difficulty.

Free AP Human Geography Resources

If you’re cramming last minute for AP Human Geography, don’t stress we’ve all been there! If you’re wondering how to pass AP human geography on a time crunch, here are some of our trusted AP HUG resources and AP Human Geography exam tips for a last minute cram.

What is on the AP Human Geography Exam?

There’s 7 units on the AP Human geography exam and they don’t all show up at the same volume. If you need help on knowing how to prepare for the AP Human Geography exam, here’s a brief summary of each unit tested and what % of the multiple choice questions test that unit (in the parentheses)

Unit 1: Thinking Geographically (8-10%)

This unit explores the tools and methods used by geographers to study places, including maps, data analysis, and the identification of spatial patterns.

Unit 2: Population and Migration Patterns and Processes (12-17%)

Focusing on human populations, this unit examines global cultural, political, and economic patterns. You'll learn about population changes, their causes, and the resulting effects on economy, politics, and culture.

Unit 3: Cultural Patterns and Processes (12-17%)

Exploring the spread of religion, language, and cultural practices, this unit analyzes the factors that influence cultures, such as physical geography, available resources, and human interactions.

Unit 4: Political Patterns and Processes (12-17%)

The fourth unit delves into the political organization of the world, studying the impact of historical processes, events, and ideas on politics. You'll also explore how political boundaries and governance divisions reflect power balances.

Unit 5: Agriculture and Rural Land-Use Patterns and Processes (12-17%)

This unit covers the origins of agriculture, its global spread, and the changes it has undergone. Topics include cultural diffusion, technological advancements, and the variations in agricultural production and consumption patterns across regions.

Unit 6: Cities and Urban Land-Use Patterns and Processes (12-17%)

Focusing on urbanization, this unit explores the origins and influences of cities, their role in globalization, and the unique challenges they face in politics, culture, economy, and the environment.

Unit 7: Industrial and Economic Development Patterns and Processes (12-17%)

The final unit examines industrialization and its impact on economic development. You'll learn about varying rates and timing of social and economic development across different regions. The unit also addresses economic problems stemming from industrialization and potential solutions.

What does the AP Human Geo FRQ look like?

The FRQ section of the AP Human Geography exam consists of 3 essay questions which you’ll have a total of 75 minutes to complete, giving you approximately 25 minutes per question. Each FRQ question is worth 7 points and will typically be broken down into multiple parts that are related to one main theme covered in the curriculum. 

Free Response Question One : this one will have No Stimulus 

Free Response Question Two : this one will have One Stimulus

Free Response Question Three : this one will have Three Stimulus

How to Tackle the FRQ Section

As soon as you get to the FRQ section of the exam, it is important to assess what you’re dealing with. Before answering each question, start by doing these two steps :

Step 1: Read the Introductory Statement for all three questions

Before tackling the question, read the brief introduction. It provides essential context and helps you approach the topic with confidence. By reviewing the introductory statements of all three FRQs beforehand, you can prioritize the familiar topics and begin with the question you feel most comfortable answering, saving time.

Step 2 : Underline the Action you need to perform

The FRQ will typically use words like compare, define and describe to tell you exactly what you need to do to get full points. Underline this so you don’t lose sight of the task at hand as you answer the essay question.

Tips to Score all 7 Points on the FRQ 

  1. Analyzing the Stimulus : Some of the free response questions involve analyzing and incorporating information for a visual the exam provides to you. Make sure to look at the title of the chart as well as any labels and map keys. Also identify any general trends in the data.

  2. Pay attention to the action words : the free response question will ask you to perform a very specific task like “identify”, “discuss”, “compare”, etc., Make sure you take some time before the exam to understand what each of those is asking you to do.

  3. For each free response question, dedicate 5 minutes to read + come up with your examples, 15 minutes to write it out and 5 minutes to proofread so you don’t fall behind on time.

General AP Human Geography Exam Tips

  • If you are wondering how to study for the AP Human Geography exam, the best thing to do is start with an AP Human Geography Cheat Sheet : In April, gather all your AP human geography notes from the school year, and read through them noting down the most important things along the way. This’ll turn into your ap human geo cheat sheet that you can review daily leading up to the exam.

  • Master the models: Understand, define, and apply the key models. Also, learn the names of their inventors to avoid losing points.

  • Excel in vocabulary: There’s a lot of vocab so continuously study your AP Human Geo flashcards, group words by unit, and practice writing definitions and examples. This strengthens your vocabulary and prepares you for the free-response section. 

  • Map knowledge: Learn the locations of countries, especially world powers, as questions often focus on regions. Being able to identify countries accurately is crucial for certain questions.

  • Stay informed: Create a current events journal to keep track of important news, expanding your knowledge and potentially aiding in answering related questions. You can use there for your examples in the FRQs!

Knowing how to ace the AP Human Geography exam requires a combination of memorization, critical thinking, and effective exam strategies. By following some of these tips outlined in this guide, learning your vocab really well, and practicing with sample FRQs, you'll be well-equipped to tackle the exam and get a 5! Remember to approach your study routine with consistency, dedication, and a positive mindset. Good luck!

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