AP® Human Geography FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (2024)

Are you seeking answers to the most commonly asked questions about the 2024 AP® Human Geography exam? You’re in the right place! Read below to find answers to all of these and more in this AP® Human Geography FAQ.

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Is AP® Human Geography easy? What can make it hard?

Compared to a regular human geography course, the AP® Human Geography course is more difficult. This is because AP® courses are designed to teach students at a college level, so the exams are designed to test a higher level of content synthesis and critical thinking.

Compared to other AP® exams, AP® Human Geography has a lower pass rate for reasons outlined in this section.

For the 2023 AP® exam season, about half (54.4%) of the students who took the AP® Human Geography exam passed with a 3 or better. The mean score for the AP® HG exam was 2.75.

The statistics included above are based on the number of students who take the AP® Human Geography exam each year. This exam averages approximately 220,000 test-takers yearly, which is in the average range for the AP® exam offerings.In 2023, there were a total of 247,043 AP® Human Geography test takers.

To make the best use of your study time for the AP® Human Geography exam, it is important to understand how the units covered in the course content are weighted on the actual exam. Knowing the weight of each unit will allow you to focus your attention on the areas that carry a higher weight.

The AP® Human Geography exam covers seven total units. Units 2-7 all carry the same weight at 12-17% of the exam. The first unit, Thinking Geographically, carries a lower weight at 8-10% of the exam.

Since the AP® Human Geography exam has one of the lower passing rates among AP® exams, it would be helpful to know how many questions in each section you need to answer correctly in order to achieve a score of 3 or better.

The AP® Human Geography score calculator (previewed below) from Albert reveals that you need to get 30 of the 60 multiple-choice questions right and be awarded a minimum of half of the possible points in the free-response section in order to pass the exam.

AP® Human Geography FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (1)

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Is AP® Human Geography worth it?

The AP® Human Geography exam is absolutely worth taking for many students. In general, AP® courses are valuable for guiding students toward building college-level skills in high school. AP® Human Geography is especially valuable as it serves as many students’ introduction to AP® courses.

In addition to the study skills, AP® courses can be valuable because they show college admissions counselors that you take your academics seriously and that you don’t shy away from academic rigor. According to College Board research, “students who receive a score of 3 or higher on AP® Exams typically experience greater academic success in college and have higher graduation rates than their non-AP® peers.”

One of the most useful things about taking AP® courses is the opportunity to gain college credit during high school. Going into college with pre-earned credits can translate into tuition savings and allow students to either graduate early or explore additional courses outside their major.

Below is a table showing just a few colleges that accept AP® Human Geography for credit and the savings realized as a result.


Minimum Score Required

Number of Credits

Estimated Tuition Savings

American University4 3 $4,761
Rutgers University 4 3 $2,745
University of Maryland4 3 $4,161
University of Wisconsin – Madison 3 3 $4,440
Ohio State University 3 3 $3,735
MIT 5 9 $7,470
UNC-Chapel Hill 3 3 $3,810
Auburn University 4 3 $3,609

As you can see, the chart shows that there are definitely savings to be had by earning college credit for AP® exams in high school. These savings, coupled with the educational benefits, show that taking AP® Human Geography is worth it.

Check out Albert’s AP® Human Geography practice questions

When is the 2024 AP® Human Geography exam?

The 2024 AP® Human Geography exam will be given using paper-and-pencil tests. The 2024 AP® Human Geography exam will take place on:

Tuesday, May 7, 2024, at 8am local time

Curious about when other AP® exams are happening in 2024? View the complete 2024 AP® exam schedule here.

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When do AP® Human Geography scores typically come out?

According to the latest update from the College Board exam season timeline, students will receive their AP® scores in July 2024. Historically, the College Board typically releases AP® scores early in the month of July.

You’ll be able to access your AP® scores online with your College Board account username and password.

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How is AP® Human Geography scored? What’s the weighting of different questions?

The AP® Human Geography exam scoring follows this format:

SectionQuestionsTime% of Exam Score
1: Multiple Choice60 questions1 hour50%
2: Free Response3 questions1 hour and 15 minutes50%
  • The multiple-choice section of the AP® Human Geography exam includes a total of 60 questions that need to be answered within the one-hour time limit. As of the 2020 exam, this section has been revised to require more analysis of both qualitative and quantitative sources.
  • The multiple-choice section groups questions in 5-8 sets. Each set will include 2-3 questions that relate to either a text or data-based source. At least one of the sets of questions will include a paired set of sources.
  • The free-response portion of the exam consists of three questions. You will have one hour and 15 minutes to complete your answers to these questions. In past years, the points for each of the three questions could vary. Starting in 2020, each question will be worth 7 points.
  • The first free-response question will require you to describe and apply a geographic scenario. The second question on the free-response portion asks you to describe and apply geographic data. This data will be supplied and will be either qualitative or quantitative in nature. The third and final question is a repeat of the second question’s format, but will use two supplied sources. These sources may be quantitative, qualitative, or both.

Quick tip: When using examples, be sure to be specific. Past responses have received lower points due to the use of generic examples. The examples you use should demonstrate a solid understanding of the content and be specific to that scenario.

The content weighting for the AP® Human Geography exam is outlined below:

UnitsExam Weighting
Unit 1: Thinking Geographically8-10%
Unit 2: Population and Migration Patterns and Processes12-17%
Unit 3: Cultural Patterns and Processes12-17%
Unit 4: Political Patterns and Processes12-17%
Unit 5: Agricultural and Rural Land-Use Patterns and Processes12-17%
Unit 6: Cities and Urban Land-Use Patterns and Processes12-17%
Unit 7: Industrial and Economic Development Patterns and Processes12-17%

Check out Albert’s AP® Human Geography practice questions

What happens if you fail AP® Human Geography?

Should you fail the AP® Human Geography exam, stay calm and understand that this is something you can easily fix.

The AP® Human Geography exam is given once every year in May. You can take the exam as often as you like in order to pass or in an attempt to get a higher score. You’ll just need to pay the exam fee each time you retake the exam.

Your high school GPA will likely not be impacted at all if you fail the AP® Human Geography exam. Most schools don’t use your AP® exam scores as part of your overall course grades. Grades are based on a combination of coursework and class tests, so as long as you’ve scored well on those, your GPA will be fine.

If you fail the AP® Human Geography exam, you will not receive college credit for the course. Most colleges will not award college credit for any score lower than a 3 (some schools require a 4 for college credit). If college credit is your goal and you failed or scored lower than a 3, you will need to retake the exam.

Some students are concerned with how failing the AP® Human Geography exam will reflect on their college admissions process. As the student, you are in control of where your AP® scores are sent, so you can decide who sees these scores. If you do end up sending a low or failing score to a college, you can often have that score replaced with a higher score when you retake the exam.

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When do students typically take AP® Human Geography? When is best?

Many students take AP® Human Geography in their freshman or sophom*ore year.

This exam is typically considered by students to be a good introductory AP® exam. While some schools allow freshmen to take this course, others require that students take at least one other AP® history course prior to taking AP® Human Geography.

The decision of when to take AP® Human Geography also depends on the total number of AP® courses you want to take throughout your high school career. If your goal is to take a large number of AP® courses, you may want to consider taking AP® Human Geography earlier. If you only plan on taking a select few AP® courses, you can wait until later to take this course.

The benefit of waiting to take the AP® Human Geography course is that you will be more acclimated to the demands of juggling several difficult classes at one time and that you will be better suited to the level of writing required in AP® courses. Taking other AP® exams prior to taking AP® Human Geography will also give you more experience with the AP® exam format and the level of detail required for the writing portion of these exams.

You should consult your parents, teachers, and guidance counselor to decide the best time for you to take the AP® Human Geography exam. The decision should be based on factors that are unique to you and to your academic goals.

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Where can I find past AP® Human Geography exams?

Past AP® Human Geography exams are on the College Board’s AP® Central website.

From that website, the College Board also provides links to practice tests for past exams. These practice tests allow you to become comfortable with the kinds of questions that have been included on past exams and to understand the types of answers that have achieved high scores in the past.

Here are the most recent practice tests for the AP® Human Geography exam:

The AP® Human Geography exam was redesigned for the 2019-2020 academic year based on a reorganization of the units covered. The practice questions above will still be useful but must be weighed against the most recent changes.

The practice tests above only cover the free-response portion of the AP® ®Human Geography exam. If you would like more practice on the multiple-choice section of the exam, the AP® Human Geography Course and Exam Description provides a limited number of examples. There are only 15 multiple-choice questions in the guide, so this will not be a comprehensive reflection of the questions on the actual exam. It will, however, provide a useful peek into this portion of the exam.

To get more practice on the multiple-choice portion of the AP® Human Geography exam, you can visit the Albert website to view hundreds of additional multiple-choice practice questions. These practice questions have been written to align with the units and learning objectives covered by the AP® Human Geography exam.

You can find even more useful information for the AP® Human Geography exam on the AP® Central website. This information can be vital to achieving the highest score possible on the exam. Included on the AP® Central website are:

The scoring guidelines provide information on how points are awarded for each short-answer question.

The short answer questions are much more subjective to grade than the multiple choice questions. Using the scoring guidelines will give you valuable insight into the kinds of answers that have been given full or partial credit in the past.

The Chief Reader Report is published each year, allowing you to gain in-depth insight into how the short answer and essay questions are graded. This report details what the exam graders are looking for in each question and the information that was present in highly successful responses. In addition, this report outlines where students’ answers were found lacking.

When reviewing the 2019 Chief Reader Report, you can see that on question 1 (in Set 2), many students misread the question. The Chief Reader also stated that students tended to give generic examples. Reading this report would help students to understand that they need to use specific examples and to completely read the question to ensure they understand it before answering.

You can also find very useful information on the Scoring Report for the AP® Human Geography exam. The report will show you at a glance which questions were most often missed by past exam takers as well as which questions most students answered successfully. For example, question #3 on the 2019 exam (Set 1) had the lowest mean score of 1.70 points (out of a possible 6).

To answer this question correctly, students needed to define “devolution” and relate it to several aspects of politics and life. The Chief Reader Report states that students who did not receive full points for this question did not have a clear understanding of the term devolution. They tended to define it as the opposite of evolution rather than the transfer of power from national to regional and local governments.

Another useful tool not included above is the list of sample responses for the AP® Human Geography exam. For example, the sample response for question #1 (Set 1) provides sample responses for the question with a breakdown of the point awarded for topics covered. The set includes three sample responses, one that received full credit, one that received 5 out of 7 possible points, and one that scored 3 out of 7 possible points.

If you’re looking for powerful practice with AP® Human Geography FRQs, Albert has practice questions for each type of FRQ along with examples of responses that would earn full points. Albert even provides a detailed explanation of how the sample response earned each point in the rubric!

While the short answer and essay questions do require more thought and planning, don’t forget that 50% of the exam score comes from the multiple-choice section. Albert maintains thousands of multiple choice practice questions that coordinate with the AP® Human Geography units and standards. Along with the question and answer, Albert also includes a detailed explanation of each question to further your knowledge before taking this exam.

To learn more about Albert, click here

Who should take AP® Human Geography? What sort of students may like it more than others?

Since AP® Human Geography is considered to be a relatively entry-level AP® course, many students choose to take it as the first AP® course of their high school careers. If you are interested in social science, this could be a good AP® course choice for you. There is more detail about the course in the course overview.

Even though AP® Human Geography is considered to be a good starter AP® course, it is not required to be successful in later AP® courses. If the course content is not a fit for your skills and interests, you are better off choosing an AP® course that does appeal to your interests.

If your goal is to attend college eventually, you’ll want to take at least a few AP® courses to increase your chances at acceptance, especially for the more selective colleges. Taking AP® Human Geography can be useful in opening the door to other AP® courses throughout your high school career.

However, if your goal is to achieve all 5s on your AP® exams, you’ll need to work hard when studying for the AP® Human Geography exam. This exam awards a surprisingly low number of 5s, likely due to the fact that it is the first AP® exam for many students and they are unaware of how to best prepare for the exam. In 2019, only 10.8% of those who took the exam scored a 5.

In 2019, AP® Human Geography was the second-hardest AP® test — or, more accurately, the test that awarded the second-lowest percentage of 5s. The lowest percentage was for the AP® World History exam. Only 8.6% of students scored a 5 on that exam.

Achieving a perfect score on the AP® Human Geography exam is difficult, but not impossible. However, you should base your AP® ®course choices on your academic interest and strengths rather than simply choosing those with the highest chance of a perfect score.

You are in control of which courses you choose to take. You should consult your parents and your guidance counselor for input and assistance with this important decision.

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How do students typically score on AP® Human Geography? What’s the score distribution?

Students typically score lower on this exam than on other AP® exams. Because the AP® Human Geography exam is one of the more difficult to pass, it is important to be well prepared for this exam.

Your score will depend on your level of preparedness for the exam as well as your aptitude for the subject.


% of 5s

% of 4s

% of 3s

% of 2s

% of 1s

Pass Rate %

201910.8% 18.2%20.1%16.7%34.1%49.1%

As you can see, about half the students fail the AP® Human Geography exam each year. This higher failure rate is likely due to the fact that this is the very first AP® exam many students take.

For the 2023 exam season, the mean score for the AP® Human Geography exam was 2.75, derived from 247,043 test-takers.

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Need help preparing for your AP® Human Geography exam?

AP® Human Geography FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (2)

Albert has hundreds of AP® Human Geography practice questions, including multiple-choice, free response, and full-length practice tests to try out.

Start your AP® Human Geography test prep here

AP® Human Geography FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (2024)


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