The Ultimate Guide to AP Human Geography

Studying for AP human geography can seem daunting, but you don’t have to spend hours studying each day. Instead, try adding a few quick, targeted study sessions to your routine—like reviewing flashcards on your way to sports practice or reading course notes after school.

One of the most valuable tips for scoring a 4 or 5 on your exam is to practice past free-response questions.

The AP Human Geography exam typically includes multiple-choice and free-response questions that assess students’ knowledge and understanding of these topics. It is an opportunity for students to earn college credit or advanced placement in a geography-related field.

Unit 1: Physical Geography

AP human geography concerns the world, its people, and the environment. It covers a lot of ground in seven units and is one of the most popular AP classes for high school students. Whether you’re taking the class for fun or college credit, it will provide an excellent foundation for many different careers.

To prepare, you should start studying as early as possible to avoid cramming at year’s end. Take notes in class, study them regularly, and practice with a reputable AP human geography review book. 

Unit 2: Human Geography

Human geography explores why certain cultures develop in particular places and ways. You’ll examine how and why religion, language, and other cultural traits spread worldwide. You’ll also study economic development, examining why some areas experience industrialization while others don’t.

One of the most essential skills in this course is understanding and deciphering information shown in charts, infographics, maps, tables, and images. Ensure you are familiar with these formats, and consider using a review book that provides access to multiple practice tests and quizzes.

The College Board has an archive of free-response questions (FRQs) dating back to 2001 that you can use to practice with. These questions come with scoring guidelines and examples of student responses to help you understand what is expected on the exam.

Remember that you’ll have just an hour to answer 60 multiple-choice questions on the exam. This means you’ll need to be able to answer each question in about a minute. Timed practice tests will help you improve and give you a good sense of your progress.

Unit 3: Cultural Geography

Students in this class study patterns of culture, including religion, language, and ethnicity. They examine how cultural traits spread and develop over time, analyzing how geographic location and available resources influence cultures.

The exam contains one section of 60 multiple-choice questions and three free-response essay questions, making up most of the total score. The most important tip for passing the free-response section is practice, and CollegeBoard offers some great resources on this page, including past FRQs with scoring guidelines and sample responses.

A good study plan includes frequent, short study sessions. This might mean 15 minutes of studying flashcards after school, reading a chapter from your review book before bed, or reviewing your notes while playing sports.

Practicing with complete, timed practice tests is also a good idea. This will help you get used to the test structure and pace of the exam since students only have an hour to answer sixty multiple-choice questions. 

Unit 4: Political Geography

Taking practice tests is an excellent way to score well on the AP human geography exam. These can be found on the College Board website; some even come with scoring guidelines. Studying the course textbook is essential, especially if you struggle with a particular topic or unit.

Another excellent study tool offers quizzes categorized by topic and unit. These can range from a few questions to as many as 62, and you can pay for an account to keep track of your progress. It’s also helpful to review course vocabulary daily with flashcards.

Studying for this AP class consistently throughout the year is essential to handle test day. Multiple practice tests will help you pinpoint your weak areas and give you an idea of how much time to allocate to each question. It’s also important to study with a friend or study group, so you stay motivated and focused. 

Unit 5: Global Geography

AP human geography is an excellent course for students majoring in the sciences or social science, particularly those interested in careers in environmental studies, international relations, or urban planning. The course offers a unique perspective on how people, places, and things interact and interconnect. The knowledge you gain will also help you think critically and analytically about different geographic phenomena.

The AP Human Geography exam is two hours long; sixty multiple-choice questions make up half your final score. The other half comes from three free-response questions. 

With so many terms, theories, and models to remember, it can be helpful to study with flashcards. Whether you create your own, find a set, or review your flashcards often. Keeping these on hand will allow you to study in the short periods you have throughout the day, and it will be easier to understand the questions on the exam.