AP Art History is a challenging course to learn in a physical classroom with a live teacher, let alone at home or on your own time. As a homeschool or a self-studying student, it is important to have a plan of action. Regardless of your AP Art History medium (home school or self-studying), these AP Art History tips and tricks will set you on the path towards exam success!
Take a course not offered by your school.
Earn college credit.
Learn at your own pace.
Can be done at a low cost.
Ability to connect with students in the same course from outside your school.
When you create a self-study plan, always start with the College Board Course and Exam Description
(CED). The CED details all of the content that will be on the exam, describes the art historical thinking skills, and explains the key concepts/big ideas in the course. The CED provides "At a Glance" sections where you will see each unit and key concept along with the historical thinking skills applied in that specific key concept.
As you read deeper into the CED, you will find summaries of the main ideas/most important content for each unit and corresponding key concepts. These summaries have the bulk of the information you will need to study. The AP Art History CED also includes all of the 250 required works.
To register for an AP test if you are self-studying, get in touch with your school's AP Coordinator. If your school does not have an AP Coordinator, you can contact AP Services to register and find a nearby school where you can take the exam.
Contact Information for AP Services
AP services will connect you with AP Coordinators from schools near you who are willing to accept outside students for testing. You will need to get in touch with one of them to make testing arrangements.
Obtaining access to a textbook is crucial when studying APAH independently or through homeschooling. A textual resource with lots of information and images acts as a foundation for the rest of your APAH learning. Having a textbook is helpful because you can always refer to it at any time throughout the course for an in-depth analysis and explanation of the content.
Books that teach the information by genre or time period may be particularly helpful for AP Art History. Textbooks also contain a glossary of important terms that are crucial on the exam, especially on the Free-Response Questions. Use the glossary to create a list of key terms and their definitions (you can also add images) as you work your way through the course.
Check out this guide
for links to free, affordable, and the overall best AP Art History Textbooks and additional APAH resources.
Barron's is a great resource for APAH! Image Courtesy of Amazon
Barron's AP Art History, one of our top picks for AP Art History Resources! This book contains 2 full-length practice tests and a clear, thorough review of major artists and movements, extra multiple choice practice questions, and chapters that expand beyond the European tradition.
The 250 required artworks in AP Art History are essentially the basis for the exam as they show up in both multiple-choice and free-response questions. You are asked to compare and contrast with works outside the image set, and you are also required to attribute an art piece to a particular artist.
Creating flashcards is an excellent way of memorizing these artworks. Make a flashcard for each image and summarize the artwork in your own words. Be sure to include the artist, time period/movement, medium, location, and significance of the image. If you would rather use a pre-existing deck of flashcards, see our Best Quizlets for AP Art History blog
Sticking to one form of learning (i.e only using a textbook) is not the best way to develop a comprehensive understanding of AP Art History. A single resource will not provide you with the different perspectives you need to know to succeed on the exam. Additionally, some textbooks can be lengthy and have a wealth of extra information, which can get confusing at times.
Supplementary resources such as Smart History
or Khan Academy
and, of course, Fiveable offer bite-sized chunks of information that can help clarify information in textbooks.
AP Art History is much more than learning artworks and their artists. Discussing the art on a deeper level, by delving into its larger historical significance with peers and/or a teacher will greatly help improve your understanding of the history in this course that goes beyond the artworks themselves.
Additionally, talking about artworks with other people provides multiple unique perspectives that may help in argumentative essays. Consider reaching out to students you may know who are also taking/have taken the course, attending weekly AP Art History live streams at Fiveable, or chatting with students in the Fiveable community.
Do not try to memorize all of the required works at the same time or learn every unit within the span of a few weeks. Take the course in small doses, perhaps just learning 25 images at a time along with one unit. Spend an adequate amount of time soaking up the information and paying attention to little things such as connections between time periods, the influences behind the artworks, and the artistic traditions in the images. A good way to budget your time is to make a study schedule using a calendar, spreadsheet, whiteboard, or productivity tool such as Notion.
Practice tests are the best way to assess performance and discover any gaps in content knowledge. Taking practice tests frequently will help improve answering multiple-choice questions and writing essays faster, which cannot just be done by reading a textbook or by using flashcards. Try your best to use the practice questions released by the College Board, but since these are limited, you can find practice tests in other resources such as the Barron's AP Art History prep book. Be sure to read the reviews when using non-College Board resources.
When defining key terms or making flashcards, always make sure what you write makes sense TO YOU. Use your own words as opposed to the fancy textbook definitions to understand the information. Overall, take the study approach that best suits your learning style!
For more tips on how to get a 5, check this guide out
Best of luck in your AP Art History course and happy studying! For more AP Art History resources such as live streams and study guides, visit Fiveable
for more resources! Remember, you're not alone in this journey! You got this 🥳