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free response questions ap human geography

AP HUMAN GEOGRAPHYThe Exam

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Important Updates

Secure Exam for Classroom Use
A secure 2016 AP Human Geography Exam is available on the AP Course Audit website . To access, sign in to your AP Course Audit account, and click on the Secure Documents link in the Resources section of your Course Status page.

  • Event
    • Fri, May 18, 2018

    AP Human Geography Exam Day 2018

    • 8 a.m. | 2 hrs 15 mins

Exam Overview

The AP Human Geography Exam requires students to explain and apply key and supporting geographical concepts. The exam employs multiple-choice questions and free-response questions based on components of the seven major curriculum topics. Students must be able to define, explain, and apply geographical concepts and interpret geographical data.

Encourage your students to visit the AP Human Geography student page for exam information and exam practice.

Exam Format

Section I

Multiple Choice — 75 Questions | 1 Hour | 50% of Exam Score

  • Define, explain, and apply geographic concepts
  • Interpret geographic data

Section II

Free Response — 3 Questions | 1 Hour, 15 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

Questions may require that students:

  • Synthesize different topical areas
  • Analyze and evaluate geographical concepts
  • Supply appropriately selected and well-explained real-world examples to illustrate geographic concepts
  • Interpret verbal descriptions, maps, graphs, photographs, and/or diagrams
  • Formulate responses in narrative form

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

For free-response questions from prior exams, along with scoring information, check out the tables below.

Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. In this invaluable resource, the Chief Reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the reading leadership to describe how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year.

 

2018: Free-Response Questions

2018: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

  

2017: Free-Response Questions

2017: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Chief Reader Report

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Scoring Distributions

2016: Free-Response Questions

2016: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Score Distributions

2015: Free-Response Questions

2015: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Score Distributions

2014: Free-Response Questions

2014: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Score Distributions

2013: Free-Response Questions

2013: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Score Distributions

2012: Free-Response Questions

2012: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Score Distributions

2011: Free-Response Questions

2011: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Score Distributions

2010: Free-Response Questions

2010: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryScore Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Score Distributions

2009: Free-Response Questions

2009: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryGrade Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Grade Distributions

2008: Free-Response Questions

2008: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryGrade Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Grade Distributions

2007: Free-Response Questions

2007: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryGrade Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Grade Distributions

2006: Free-Response Questions

2006: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamples and CommentaryGrade Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses Q1

Sample Responses Q2

Sample Responses Q3

Grade Distributions

2005: Free-Response Questions

2005: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamplesGrade Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Scoring Commentary

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Responses

Grade Distributions

2004: Free-Response Questions

2004: Free-Response Questions
QuestionsScoringSamplesGrade Distributions

Free-Response Questions

Scoring Guidelines

Scoring Commentary

Student Performance Q&A

Scoring Statistics

Sample Response Q1

Sample Response Q2

Sample Response Q3

Grade Distributions

2003: Free-Response Questions

2003: Free-Response Questions
Questions

Free-Response Questions

2002: Free-Response Questions

2002: Free-Response Questions
Questions

Free-Response Questions

2001: Free-Response Questions

2001: Free-Response Questions
Questions

Free-Response Questions

Exam Resources

  • Document

    AP Human Geography Course Description—June 2015

    This is the core document for this course. It clearly lays out the course content and describes the exam and AP Program in general.

    • PDF
    • 1.5 MB
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The Complete Guide to AP Human Geography FRQs

Posted by Samantha Lindsay | May 4, 2016 10:00:00 PM

Advanced Placement (AP)

 

feature_aphumangeographyfreeresponse.jpg

The free-response section is the hardest part of any AP test. Although AP Human Geography is much more straightforward than some other humanities AP exams, if you don't have your stuff down, the free-response section can still hit you where it hurts. In this article, I'll take you through the structure of the free-response section, some tips for answering AP Human Geography FRQs strategically, examples of what actual questions look like, and a few places where you can find the best practice materials. 

 

AP Human Geography Free-Response Section Format

There are three questions on the free-response section, each worth the same percentage of your score. You’ll have an hour and 15 minutes to answer all three questions. Free-response prompts will ask you to:
  • Demonstrate an understanding of geographic models
  • Analyze and evaluate geographic concepts
  • Cite and explain examples of various geographic processes
  • Synthesize different topics covered in the curriculum

Most free-response questions have multiple parts, and you can earn anywhere from 6-10 raw points on each of them. It’s usually fairly obvious where the points are earned on these questions, as you’ll see in the examples in the upcoming sections.  

 

How to Answer AP Human Geography FRQs

Before we get into examples with answer explanations, I’ll give you some essential steps for answering these types of questions. AP Human Geography free-response questions are typically pretty straightforward so you can attack them in a methodical fashion. Here's a sample question from the 2015 exam that I'll use as a reference so you can see how the different steps apply:

Screen_Shot_2016-04-27_at_2.48.23_PM.png 

Step 1: Read the Introductory Statement

Before you start in on the first part of the question, make sure you read the short introductory blurb. It sets up the topic you’ll be analyzing and gives you firmer ground to stand on when addressing the rest of the question. In the sample question above, the introductory statement makes it clear that the question will deal with refugees and the political and social origins of mass emigration.

Reading all the introductory statements for the three free-response questions in the section before you start answering any of them can help you decide where to begin. If you see a topic that is especially familiar, you might go for that question first because you’ll be able to answer it the fastest. 

 

Step 2: Identify the Key Command

In each part of the question, underline what it’s asking you to do. Common examples of key commands include “compare,” “describe,” “identify,” and “explain.” It’s helpful to underline these words to keep yourself on track when responding to the question. This is also useful because it will get you in the habit of paying closer attention to the differences between each of these tasks. 

For example, a question that asks you to “identify” something will merit a much more succinct answer than one that asks you to “describe” it. In part A of the sample question, the key command is "define," meaning you could just give a one sentence answer that clearly outlines what a refugee is. For part B, the key command is "discuss," which denotes a longer answer that elaborates on each reason for refugees leaving their countries of origin.

In part C, the key commands are "identify and explain," which would mean a very succinct answer followed by greater detail. The final part of the question asks you to "explain" two economic impacts, which means a couple of sentences of further clarification for each example you give. You’ll save time and earn points if you’re careful to make these distinctions!

 

Step 3: Hit the Points

Now it’s time to answer the question. Make an estimate of how many points are possible in this part of the question. For example, if a question tells you to give two examples of how a concept applies to a certain country’s economic landscape, there are likely two points that you can potentially earn for that part of the question. In the sample question, you can see relatively clearly that part A is worth one point, part B is worth three points, part C is worth two points, and part D is worth two points.

Part C is the only tricky part - notice that you're only asked for one reason, but you must identify AND explain it. There is typically one point available for completing each key command. After making this determination, write a clear answer that addresses all of the points thoroughly and will make it easy for the grader to find your responses. 

 

Step 4: Reread and Double Check

When you’ve finished writing your answer, reread the question and your response to make sure you’ve done everything it asked you to do. If you’re satisfied, move onto the next part of the question, and repeat the process of identifying key commands and hitting all the possible points. After you finish the last part, check over all of your answers for that question one last time to ensure that everything is the way you want it to be. Then you can move onto the next free-response question.

 body_doublecheck.jpgReview your answers with a second, more critical eye. I think this picture is photoshopped, but I don't know for sure because I don't feel like Googling "can you have two pupil/iris combos within one eyeball?" Just kidding, I did Google it, and it's probably not a thing, but not even the internet knows for sure.  OoOoOoOo.

 

AP Human Geography FRQ Examples

In this section, I'll go through the answers to two different free-response questions that were asked on real AP Human Geography tests within the last couple of years. Here's the first question:

body_aphumangeographyfrq1.png

For this question, a knowledge of the most prevalent geographic models and theories is very important. You need to be able to relate one of these models to the economic development of a specific country. This question requires almost all the skills listed in the first section of this guide. 

As you may have guessed, there were three points possible for the answer to the first part. Here are some examples of differences between the two models that you could identify and compare:

  • Rostow’s five-stage model says that national economies are developing forward over time (never moving backward) while Wallerstein’s core-periphery model says that countries are static or can move backward in development. 
  • Rostow’s model says that international trade may help countries to grow economically while Wallerstein’s model says that international trade strengthens development in core countries and constrains development in peripheral countries. 
  • Rostow’s model provides a national-level analysis while Wallerstein’s model provides an international-level analysis.

For part B, you need to show that you can apply these models in the context of Mexico and Brazil, countries that are in the midst of fully developing and modernizing their economies. One point would be earned for identifying a stage or part of one of the models, and a second point would be earned for explaining that stage or part. For example, you could talk about Stage 4, or the Drive to Maturity, in Rostow’s model. This stage is exemplified by increased manufacturing specialization and integration into the global economy. 

For part C, you would have to identify two examples of the core-periphery concept below the national level. One example might be a core city and its peripheral suburbs. Another example might be a core productive area surrounded by a less developed or impoverished periphery.

Now, let’s take a look at a second example with an image component:

body_aphumangeographyfrq2.png

For part A, we have to consult the map and determine one characteristic that the shaded countries have in common. Examples of characteristics you could mention include:

  • They’re all developing countries.
  • They’re former colonies.
  • They all use plantation or small-scale agriculture.
  • They’re all equatorial countries.

Part A was worth one point. Notice that this only requires a very broad understanding of the nature of these countries or a basic knowledge of climate in different parts of the world.

For part B, you could earn two points for identifying each impact of coffee farming. Possibilities include:

  • Economic development: Coffee farming leads to increased employment, growth in GNP, development of infrastructure, improved foreign exchange, increased global trade and better international relations.  
  • Environmental impacts: Coffee farming causes harmful effects from agricultural chemicals, water use issues, deforestation, biodiversity loss, and soil erosion.
  • You could also talk about how coffee farming might lead to too much economic dependence on a single commodity and cause the land to be used for commercial agriculture rather than food. 

Part C was also worth two points, one for identifying a way that increased consumption affects coffee-producing countries and one for explaining the effect in more detail. For example, you might say that increased consumption leads to increased production. This, in turn, means more resources dedicated to coffee production, the adoption of new technologies related to the industry, increased profit, and the introduction of new producers into the coffee industry.

Finally, for part D, you have to explain a specifically urban change in the developed world related to coffee production. You might say that more coffee shops will start to spring up in urban areas. That gets you one point. Then, you could earn a second point if you got into a more specific discussion about how the placement of coffee shops is related to geographic theories. You might explain it in the context of consumer proximity, central place theory, and diffusion. 

 

How to Practice AP Human Geography FRQs

You can find plenty of sample AP Human Geography free-response questions (and their corresponding answer guidelines) online. The College Board site has real test questions that were administered between 2004 and 2015 with sample responses and scoring guidelines . This is the best resource for free response questions because you can be sure that they’re accurate representations of what you’ll see on your exam in terms of content and difficulty level. There’s nothing wrong with using free-response questions crafted by test prep companies for preliminary practice, but you should always incorporate real questions into your studying at frequent intervals. 

Barron’s has a free practice test that you can take in timed or practice mode depending on how serious you’re feelingIt might be good to make use of the timed mode when you’re close to the real test so you can get an accurate feel for the conditions. It has three free-response questions just like the actual AP test, and you can consult scoring guidelines to check your answers (the multiple-choice portion of the test is scored automatically, but you have to do a little more work for free response). If you’re not averse to spending a bit of money ($25), you might also register with Learnerator to get access to a bunch of additional AP Human Geography practice free-response questions . 

 

body_flyfree.jpgIt's time to fly free! Go, respond. It is your destiny.

 

What's Next?

If you want an overview of the whole exam with examples of multiple-choice and free-response questions, take a look at my survey of the AP Human Geography test including study tips and sample questions.

Looking for more resources to use in preparing for this test? Check out my ultimate study guide for AP Human Geography!

If you want more free response practice, you might consider getting a review book to supplement the online resources listed in this article. Here's a list of the best review books for AP Human Geography.

 

Have friends who also need help with test prep? Share this article!
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Samantha Lindsay
About the Author

Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.

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