Ap Human Geography Past Essay Questions

Past AP Human Geography Essay Question Subjects: 2001 • Principles of the Green Revolution Ch. 10 Agriculture • Factors that accelerated suburbanization since the 1950s Ch. 13 Urbanization • Criticism of Rostow’s model of the five states of economic development Ch. 9 Economic Dev. 2002 • Comparison of political geography principles between Europe and the Middle East Ch. 8 Poli. Geo. • Elements of religion in the cultural landscape Ch. 4 culture, Ch. 6 religion • The characteristics of urban communities with female heads-of-household Ch. 13 Urbanization, Ch. 4 Culture 2003 • Principle of core-periphery in the urban networks of Germany and Argentina Ch. 13 Urban • Criticism of how tourism affects regional distinctiveness Ch. 4 culture, Ch. 13 urban, Ch. 5 language, Ch. 6 religion • Factors of Europe’s shift from net emigration to net immigration since the 1800s Ch. 2 Pop, Ch. 3 Migration 2004 • Factors behind the development of Maquiladora cities in Mexico Ch. 13 urban, Ch. 11 industry

Average AP Human Geography Score

Maybe you are looking for the right AP class to take and are wondering how hard the AP Human Geography Exam is. Perhaps you are in the AP Human Geography class now and are wondering how viable it would be to get a five on the exam. Or possibly you have recently taken the exam and are trying to understand how you might stack up against your peers. Whatever the reason you are reading this article, scoring well enough on the exam to get college credit is your ultimate goal.

This article will give you a look into the exam process and let you know the average score on the AP Human Geography Exam and what a good score means to you on your quest to get college credit for your efforts.

Let’s start the process by first researching the results of past exams. This data will give you an idea of how hard past exams were, how many students passed the exam with a three or better, and perhaps an insight into your chances of getting one of those fours or fives. That kind of score will help you achieve your goal of receiving college credit.

The chart below contains the CollegeBoard’s 2011 to 2016 historical performance data and score trends on the AP Human Geography Exam.




Pass % (3 or higher)

184,663159,609136,448114,36198,67983,841# of Students


What can you glean from this chart on past exams? The number of fives has been fairly consistent over the past six years with an average of about 12 % of the students taking the exam getting that elusive five. The mean score for the exam has remained steady as well, only deviating less than .10% from the six-year high and low.

As you can see, the AP Human Geography exam is definitely one of the most challenging exams in the AP curriculum where nearly 50% of all students who take the exam get a one or a two. That means that only half the students who take the exam get a passing mark of three or better and there are only three other AP exams that have a lower passing percentage. But don’t despair! That has not stopped students from taking the exam in droves. As you can see, since 2011 the number of students taking the AP Human Geography exam have more than doubled from 83,841 in 2011 to more than 184,000 in 2016.

Since AP courses and exams are designed to be on par with college-level courses, they do demand you to put in the time and effort to succeed. The average AP Human Geography score is not the whole story. Your strengths and weakness will play a big part in how well you do on the exam.

What’s a Good Score on the AP Human Geography Exam?

All AP exams are graded the same by using a scale from 1-5. Even though there is a standard score for all AP exams, courses do have different passing rates. For example, earning a five on the AP Human Geography Exam (11.9% of students received a five in 2016) can be viewed in a different light than a five on the AP Chinese Language exam (93.7% of students earned a five in 2016). That does not necessarily mean that one exam is hard and one is easy. You have to look at the number of students who took the exam and their proficiency and background going into the exam.

There are other factors that play a big part in what is considered a good score on your exam. One of those factors is what score will get you college credit at the school you want to attend. Those standards are set by the CollegeBoard and the educational institution. To help you evaluate your needs and standing, you must understand AP test scores through four criteria:

1. CollegeBoard Definition

Let’s Start by looking at the CollegeBoard standards in order to understand the difference between scores. They provide a definition for each of the five scores based on how qualified you are to receive college credit.

One – this the lowest score on the AP exam and it reflects little knowledge of the material, little to no preparation, or perhaps complications developed during the exam. The Board offers “no recommendation” on this score and no colleges in the will accept an AP score of one.

Two – This score is one below passing and shows potential to pass a similar college Human Geography course, but doesn’t get you college credit. Once more, a possible bad test day may explain this score for some. The Board places a value of “possibly qualified” to pass a college course of the same level on this score.

Three – This is the most common score on AP exams as a whole. A score of three moves the bar to “qualified”, which reflects both to your adequate understanding of the course materials and your average chances for passing a similar college course and getting credits accepted at state colleges.

Four – A four indicates hard study, a good understanding of the course and high performance on the exam. This score also may show strong essay writing and good multiple-choice answering skills. The CollegeBoard deems you “well qualified”, translating to a B grade.

Five – You aced the exam and earned the highest score. This score means you’re “extremely qualified”, and all colleges will give you credit for your AP Human Geography course.

2. Relative to other Test Takers

To give you a perspective of where you fit with other test takers, you can compare your score with their scores in a particular year. For example, if you were among the 19.5% of the 184,663 who earned a three on the 2106 exam, you fared as well as those who earned a two or a four. As we said earlier, you would be in the group of only half of those you took the exam to pass and should feel good about that. The largest group of all (29% of the test takers) were students who scored a one on the exam.

Hopefully, that gives you some perspective on how students did o the exam. It is not possible to determine exactly why only 50% of students who take the AP Human Geography Exam pass, but the best-proven method of getting a good score is through your efforts and time spent in preparing for the exam and not the difficulty of the exam.

3. Based on College Credit Acceptance

Your score as a pathway to college credits depends on the college you plan on attending and your desired major. Some colleges accept only AP scores of four and five while others give credit for scores of three and higher. Each institution, and sometimes each department of a school, deal with AP scores differently. That means that an AP score of four may be good enough in the geography department for credit but not so in the chemistry department.

For example, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill accepts an AP Human Geography exam score of three and awards you three college credits applied to the freshman level geography course. Depending on what your major is, AP Human Geography may count towards your major or towards the general education requirements for your degree.

Not all institutions accept a three on the AP Global Geography exam for credit, but more elite colleges take fours at a minimum, and fives earn credit at almost any college or university. So you can see that your school choice counts critically in your assessment. Check the AP credit database to find out the criteria for AP scores for your dream school.

4. Based on Helpfulness in College Applications

Having AP exam fours and fives look great on your college application and are likely to attract the attention to college admissions officers. Having said that, passing scores on AP courses looks good on your high school transcripts regardless of your score. Passing AP courses show your ability to successfully complete rigorous coursework, which you learned well enough to pass the class. Don’t forget the AP Scholar award that is given to high scorers on multiple AP exams–a definite stand-out on your college application.

How is the AP Human Geography Exam Graded?

The AP Human Geography exam has two sections – multiple-choice and free-response questions (FRQs). The total exam is two hours and 15 minutes long. You should expect to interpret maps, charts, photos, and tables on both sections of the exam.

The details of each section and part are outlined in the table below:

% of Total Exam ScoreTiming# of QuestionsQuestions TypeSection
50%1 hour75Multiple ChoiceSection I:
50%1 hour 15 minutes3Free ResponseSection II:

The test questions will be taken from the different topics contained in the AP Human Geography Course in the following percentages:

5-10%Geography: Its Nature and Perspectives
13-17%Population and Migration
13-17Cultural Patterns and Processes
13-17%Political Organization of Space
13-17%Agriculture and Rural Land Use
13-17%Industrialization and Economic Development
13-17%Cities and Urban Land

Multiple-Choice Questions

You are given 60 minutes to answer 75 multiple choice questions, so use your time wisely. Your score on the multiple-choice questions is based on the total number of questions you answered correctly. If you do not know the answer, you should definitely take a guess because there is no penalty for guessing. Your goal should be to get at least 50 of the 75 multiple-choice answer correct because that will help you get that score or four or five on the exam.

Free-Response Questions

In the free-response section, you will have 75 minutes to answer three free-response questions. The questions are worth from 6 – 10 points each, but you will not know how many points each question is worth. In a single exam, the three questions may be worth three different point values. For example, there may be a 6-point item, an 8-point item, and a 10-point item, contributing equally to your score. Your goal is to read each word in the prompt carefully and answer the question completely, using as much detail as you can. If you give the right information in great detail, you will be awarded the maximum number of points for that question. You would receive smaller numbers of points if your answer was somewhat correct but not quite complete.

To get a feel for what the scoring guidelines look like, you can look through the 2016 FRQ Scoring Guidelines.

The AP grader will add up all of your points from the free-response questions to come up with your total points earned for that section. You will need to earn at least 60 percent of the total points available to get you to that four or five on the exam.

The results of both sections are combined, and the total raw score gets converted into a composite score of one to five on the AP 5-point scale.

What’s the Best Way to Prepare for the AP Human Geography Exam?

Have a Study Plan

Studying for the AP Human Geography Exam can seem overwhelming because of the sheer volume of the material covered in the course. You may want to study what you learned last and work your way back to the beginning. Some of you might want to take the approach of studying from the beginning to the most recent material covered. Some students choose to study only the material that they had difficulty on in the course. All of these methods have merit, but you will have to determine what approach works for your learning style and helps you feel prepared for the exam.

The method that we do not recommend is cramming the material into your brain in the days or weeks leading up to the exam. So, take you time and have enough time to develop the depth and breadth of understanding and think historically. If you find yourself in the position of needing an intense 30-day study plan, read our One Month AP Human Geography Study Guide.

Know what will be Covered on the Exam

The next step to preparing for AP World History free-response questions is to make sure you have a list of all of the key concepts from topics covered in the class. These concepts are found in the AP Human Geography Course Description. You should review the course and honestly assess your comfort level with each of the key concepts. This will give you a realistic picture of your strengths and weakness, so you know where to put your efforts in your AP Human Geography study plan.

See what has been Tested on in the Past

The third tip for getting ready for World History free-response questions is to research what the CollegeBoard has emphasized on old exams. The AP Human Geography Exam Page lets you go back and see all of the past free-response questions as well as scoring guidelines, sample responses and commentary, and score distributions. You can this resources to assess your ability to answer AP Human Geography free-response questions by practicing with actual test questions, comparing your responses with student responses, and then finding out what your score would be.

Explore all of Your Options

There are many resources that you may use to supplement this guide on approaching the AP Human Geography Exam. You can find helpful tips on all aspects of AP Human Geography test prep. You will know going into your study plan what you will need the most help with. You can target your search to help you find ways to strengthen those areas and make sure that you are ready for the exam when May rolls around.

Do you have to have a book in your hand to learn and want to know what’s the best AP Human Geography exam prep guide? Albert has that resource too. Read The Best AP Human Geography Review Books of 2017

Wrap up

The more ways you can approach your preparation, the better. But the key is to have a study plan and stick to it. For the free-response questions, we can’t stress this enough – practice as much as you can. You will find that you will look forward to the time when you can sit down and write your essays with the confidence to get the score on the AP Human Geography Exam that you dreamed of.

Looking for AP Human Geography practice?

Kickstart your AP Human Geography prep with Albert. Start your AP exam prep today.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *