How Long Are AP Exams?

Most AP exams are between two and three hours long, but the exact length of the test depends on the subject. Many of the tests are closer to three hours than two, and every AP exam has a break in the middle. Here’s what you need to know about the length of AP exams, their format, and some examples of what you can expect.

How Long are AP Exams?

AP tests can take anywhere from 1 and a half hours to 3 hours and 15 minutes. The exact time allotted for the exam depends on the subject. The only exceptions to this are AP courses that have portfolios rather than final exams.

AP Test AP Test Length
Art History 3 hours
Biology 3 hours
Calculus AB or Calculus BC 3 hours 15 minutes
Chemistry 3 hours 15 minutes
Chinese Language and Culture 2 hours 15 minutes
Comparative Government and Politics 2 hours 25 minutes
Computer Science A 3 hours
Computer Science Principles 2 hours
English Language and Composition 3 hours 15 minutes
English Literature and Composition 3 hours
Environmental Science 3 hours
European History 3 hours 15 minutes
French Language and Culture 3 hours
German Language and Culture 3 hours
Human Geography 2 hours 15 minutes
Italian Language and Culture 3 hours
Japanese Language and Culture 2 hours 15 minutes
Latin 3 hours
Macroeconomics 2 hours 10 minutes
Microeconomics 2 hours 10 minutes
Music Theory 2 hours 40 minutes
Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism 1 hour 30 minutes
Physics C Mechanics 1 hour 30 minutes
Physics 1 or 2: Algebra-Based 3 hours
Precalculus 3 hours
Psychology 2 hours
Seminar 3 hours
Spanish Language and Culture 3 hours
Spanish Literature and Culture 3 hours
Statistics 3 hours
US Government and Politics 2 hours 25 minutes
US History 3 hours 15 minutes
World History 3 hours 15 minutes

What is the Format of an AP Exam?

An AP exam is usually broken up into two parts:

  • multiple choice
  • free-response.

A person holding a blue pencil writing in a notebook.The length and difficulty of each of these parts depends. In most cases, however, the free-response section does tend to be longer than the multiple choice section for humanities subjects. Every exam has a break between the multiple choice portion and the free response portion.

Multiple choice questions usually have between 4 and 5 possible answers. Students are only graded on the number of questions they answered correctly and will not be penalized for not answering questions or getting the answer incorrect.

Free-response questions can be in the form of finding the solution to a problem, a spoken response, or an essay.

Here are some examples of AP test breakdowns and their lengths:

  • U.S. History
    • 55 multiple choice questions (55 minutes)
    • 4 short answer questions (50 minutes)
    • Document based questions (55 minutes)
    • Essay (35 minutes)
  • Calculus AB
    • 28 questions with no calculator (55 minutes)
    • 17 questions with a calculator (50 minutes)
    • 6 free response questions (90 minutes)
  • English Literature and Composition
    • 55 multiple choice questions (60 minutes)
    • 3 essay questions (120 minutes)
  • Spanish Language and Culture
    • 30 multiple choice questions (40 minutes)
    • 35 multiple choice questions with audio (55 minutes)
    • 2 free response written questions (70 minutes)
    • 2 free response spoken questions (18 minutes)

Studying for the AP Exam – Beyond the Material

Studying the material for an AP exam is just half the battle. You can know the subject inside and out, but if you’re not able to take the exam with efficiency, you could be leaving questions blank and missing out on some points.

When studying for the AP exams, it is recommended that you set the same perimeters for yourself. If your test is 3 hours, practice taking the test in 3 hours with breaks included. This is also helpful advice for the SAT or ACT. It will help you get more familiar with the material and with the time frames for each section so you can better pace yourself on test day.

AP exams can be long, but they’re designed to test your knowledge of the subject at length. Taking practice exams ahead of time can help you become more familiar with the format of the AP tests and increase your results! Always check in with your teacher if you’re confused about the length of your exam, your test date, or the format.

READ NEXT: When to AP Exams Scores Come Out

If you score about a 3 or above on your AP test, you may be able to put your course towards college credit. Use our free College Match tool to see your best fit colleges and see if they accept your AP credits!

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