AP World Multiple Choice Questions

12 min readdecember 14, 2021

Varoon Kodithala

Varoon Kodithala

Minna Chow

Minna Chow

AP World History: Modern 🌍

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To begin, here’s an overview of the AP® exam. The first section consists of 55 multiple-choice questions (“MCQs”), to be completed in a 55-minute period. This section generates 40% of your overall score on the exam, and should not be neglected. The next two sections are 3 short-answer questions (SAQs), and then a “dual package”--the Document-Based Question (DBQ) and Long-Answer Question (LEQ). 
We’ll journey through the ins-and-outs of responding appropriately to the MCQs on the AP® Exam here and touch on basic strategies curated for your success in this section. After all, from my perspective, the (often wordy) MCQs that appear on this standardized test are but an arbitrary impediment to your success as a student. I’ll shorten the process of choosing the correct answer, and share my well-informed perspective on certain question types.

Types of MCQ

The purposes of the multiple-choice questions on the exam are threefold and the structure of such questions reflect this inner purpose.

Comparison Questions

If you have even a baseline knowledge of world history, it’s safe to say that you’ve noticed historical similarities--between, for example, empirical nations, economic conflicts, and technological developments. That said, AP® content creators often work to assess students’ ability to compare different historical developments, and to explain their historical significance. Below is an example that I created for your reference:
“Remarks on the Opium Trade,” letter to a British magazine from an anonymous English merchant in Guangzhou (Canton), China, published in 1836
“Advocates of the opium-smuggling profession argue that it is immensely profitable and that supplying opium in bulk as they are doing is not immoral and it only becomes vulgar when the opium is sold in small portions, to individual users. What admirable logic with which one may shield oneself from reality, satisfied that the opium trade is nothing more than ‘supplying an important source of revenue to British companies operating in India.’ The trade may be a profitable one—it may be of importance to the Indian government, and to individuals—but to pretend that it can be defended as harmless to health and morals is to argue the impossible.” 
China’s stance towards foreign influence before the referenced British intervention in the 19th century is most similar to that of which nation during this period?
  1. Cambodia.
  2. Iran.
  3. Japan.
  4. The Ottoman Empire.
ANSWER: C.; From the early 17th century to the late 19th century, Japan was ruled by the Tokugawa Shogunate, which heavily limited foreign influence, portraying similar attributes to China’s isolationist stance during this period.

Causation Questions

The study of world history can be defined as the study of actions and reactions; every historical development over the course of time has resulted in a direct or indirect consequence, resulting in the movement of causation to the forefront of our studies. 
As a result, AP® content creators challenge students to constantly build upon their understanding of such a concept by tasking them with explaining, comparing, and identifying different causes and effects of historical developments, and with determining the difference between primary/secondary causes, and short-term/long-term results. 
Primary causes are essentially the impetus’ that result in the existence of specific secondary causes, which in turn create consequences. Short-term results are those that immediately surface, but are temporary in nature, while long-term results may take a longer period of time to surface, but embody a much more permanent effect.
Primary Cause:
Secondary Cause:
Short-Term Result:
Long-Term Result:
The British Opium Wars v. the Qing Dynasty.
The Treaty of Tianjin.
The Taiping and Boxer Rebellions.
The weakening of China’s Qing Dynasty, and the end of China’s isolationist stance.
Below is a sample question that I created utilizing the same stimulus as the previous MCQ question testing your ability to spot “comparison”:
Which of the following was a direct result of the Qing Dynasty’s defeat in the Second Opium War?
a) The Taiping Rebellion.
b) The Chinese Communist Revolution.
c) The Meiji Restoration.
d) The Arab Spring.
ANSWER: A.; the Taiping Rebellion was staged as an anti- government rebellion in the late 19th century, preying upon the Qing Dynasty’s perceived military weaknesses, displayed during their devastating performance in the Second Opium War.

Continuity and Change Questions

To me, world history is a big, old cycle of patterns, of repeating developments that resurface over and over again to form a complete image. Clearly, AP content creators think similarly, creating a whole question type that embodies the identification of relevant historical trends, and the explanation of their “big picture” significance in the broad span of time that makes up our segment of world history. 
Such questions often task you, as students, with thinking on a deeper level, and analyzing the historical importance, relevance, and appearance of such social, economic, and political “waves”. Below is a sample question that I created for your reference, utilizing a visual stimulus:
Which of the following social, political, or economic trends does the above visual BEST represent?
a) Increasing levels of unemployment, and job insecurity.
b) Gendered work, in the form of job segregation.
c) Resurgent financial recessions.
d) The constant decline of conservatism.
ANSWER: B; Gendered work has been a relevant concept ever since the early stages of history, and is represented in such an image through the placement of women’s work as the primary source of all textile production. In this image, no male figures are present, further implying that it stands a symbol of job segregation.

Tips for the MCQ

🧠Tip #1: Be Mentally Prepared

The MCQ section of the exam is quite a grueling component. Therefore, I recommend that you garner a baseline understanding of the nature of these questions to prepare yourself for success in this section of the exam. Most importantly, the MCQ section consists of 55 stimulus-based questions, meaning that each and every question is paired with a specific stimulus (essays, historical documents, pictures, political cartoons, graphs, charts, etc.), based on the document at hand. 
It’s imperative that you keep an eye on the clock because you’re only guaranteed one-minute per question. In short, the stimulus-based questions are mentally offsetting, meaning that you’ll need at least a few months’ preparation with such questions before sitting for the AP examination. 

🥇Tip #2: Read the Questions FIRST

To be completely frank, this is probably the number-one tip that I recommend for you as an AP® student, especially when tackling stimulus-based MCQs. It’s often difficult to analyze wordy paragraphs at a single point in time; to avoid re-reading information in the stimulus, I would suggest that you first review the 2-3 questions attached to garner valuable information to guide your analysis. 
Thereafter, you’ll find it easier to streamline your focus on the topic(s) at hand, and save time while analyzing your stimulus. Simply put, you’ll know exactly what you’re looking for; in my view, this section is a glorified scavenger hunt!

📑Tip #3: Keep Document Sourcing In-Mind

Every MCQ on this exam comes with a specific sourcing tagline, similar to the generic tagline posted below:
“Carl A. Gerstacker, chairman of the Dow Chemical Company, a United States corporation, speech before the White House ‘Conference on the Industrial World Ahead,’ 1972”.
Make sure to source the document before analyzing its content, for it may prove beneficial in contextualizing information into specific categories (time-period wise, and theme-wise); it’s a good practice to mark the time period of such a document, and particular bias that may seep through. 
Additionally, make sure to place a mental note with regards to whether the document is a primary-source (first-hand account of an event/occurrence) or secondary-source (one’s account of another first-hand account) document, a subset that may prove beneficial when assessing the author’s point-of-view on a specific topic.
Located below is a guide detailing exactly how I would go about annotating such a tagline.
“Carl A. Gerstacker, chairman of the Dow Chemical Company, a United States corporation, speech before the White House ‘Conference on the Industrial World Ahead,’ 1972” → primary-source document from the “Globalization” period **1900-present**!
Sourcing guidelines often provide an objective snapshot of the stimulus at-hand and have the inherent capability of aiding an individual in assessing content.

💣Tip #4: Use the Process-of-Elimination, at All Times

The process-of-elimination is a transformational tool for AP students across the board to bolster their success on the MCQ section of the end-of-year exam, in that it allows students to single down answer choices and assess the relevancy of every option at hand. From my perspective, most of the incorrect answers that appear on this standardized test are often factually incorrect, out-of-context, or unrelated to the prompt at hand; make sure to cross out such options, and eliminate blatantly incorrect answers to save time and prevent confusion.

Tip #5: Answer ALL of the Questions

Though this grueling 55-minute examination may prove a tough obstacle to overcome, it’s imperative that you pass over the entire test before the end of your session; more likely than not, you’ll miss the opportunity to gain easy points by dwelling on tough questions along the way. 
Considering that AP graders do not take away points for incorrect answers, I would recommend using your selective reasoning skills to “guess” a solution to abnormally difficult questions, marking such questions for later review. Make sure not to let such questions deter you from achieving success on the exam, and keep pushing forth in the light of continual “guessing” situations, after using the process-of-elimination to the best of your ability.

Tip #6: TIME Yourself, and Don’t Spend Too Much Time on a Single Question

As I stated before, the multiple-choice section of the AP Exam consists of 55 MCQs, to be answered in a 55-minute period, offering roughly one minute for you, as students, to answer one question. Though this one-minute cap limit is theoretically accurate, it’s often best to attempt to answer questions as quickly as possible, as it’s optimal to have at least 5 to 10 minutes to review your answers at the end of this grueling test. To do so, I’d recommend first of all, following the above measures, but also making sure that you make an educated guess if a question is taking a very long period of time to answer, and requires a lot of contemplation from you. 
Remember to always circle, star, or otherwise mark-up questions to ensure that you’ll remember to review such questions first after you’ve completed the entire test. To help you achieve such a goal, I recommend keeping a constant eye on the clock; doing so enables you to gauge whether you need to speed up. If the number of questions that you’ve answered ever falls below the number of minutes passed since the beginning of your examination, it’s often a dangerous sign, and signals that you need to begin answering questions more efficiently.
Using these tips and best practices, and taking advantage of the practice questions provided by our streamers at www.fiveable.me, along with those published in College Board’s Course and Exam Description, there’s no stopping your mastery of these questions. 


Here are a set of original practice questions from Periods 2-5 in the curriculum to jump start your learning:

Unit 2

Tamerlane’s tomb in central Asia- Samarkand in present day Uzbekistan

Image Courtesy of wikipedia

Which of the following developments MOST directly contributed to the tomb pictured above?
    1. The creation of the Yuan Dynasty.
    2. The establishment of Islamic Caliphates.
    3. The expansion of Turkish nomadic empires.
    4. The founding of the Mali Empire.
Which of the following formed context for Samarkand in the 14th Century that is visible in the tomb pictured above? 
a) Buddhist monastic communities in Central Asia.
b) Persian Muslim mosque architecture.
c) The spread of Christianity into Central Asia.
d) Traditional Hindu temple architecture.

Unit 3

The writer known as Leo Africanus was born to Muslim family in Spain, expelled in 1492 with other Muslims, lived in Morocco, became an educated, traveled in Africa, was caputred by Christian pirates, and sold to the Pope. Pope Leo X freed him and renamed him after himself. As Leo Africanus he wrote a survey of Africa, published in 1526. The excerpt below concerns Timbuktu, which at that time was part of the Songhai Empire.
“Only small, poor horses are born in this country. The merchants use them for their voyages and the courtiers to move about the city. But the good horses come from Barbary [North Africa]. They arrive in a caravan and, ten or twelve days later, they are led to the ruler, who takes as many as he likes and pays appropriately for them.”
“...There are in Timbuktu numerous judges, teachers and priests, all properly appointed by the king. He greatly honors learning. Many hand-written books imported from Barbary  are also sold. There is more profit made from this commerce than from all other merchandise.
Instead of coined money, pure gold nuggets are used; and for small purchases, cowrie shells which have been carried from Persia,** and of which 400 equal a ducat. Six and two-thirds of their ducats equal one Roman gold ounce.”
** Actually from the Maldive Islands in the Indian Ocean.
A historian can BEST use the passage above to illustrate which of the following:
a) The continued importance of Trans-Saharan trade networks after 1500 CE.
b) Military conflict between Songhai and Morocco.
c) The role of African merchants in the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
d) The Songhai Emperor’s use of Islam as a form of imperial legitimacy.
Which of the following features of West Africa contributed to the situation described in the SECOND paragraph?
a) Connections with other Islamic societies.
b) The continued practice of animism.
c) A matrilineal system of inheritance.
d) The emergence of powerful land-based empires.

Unit 4

Mughal Emperor Akbar Leading a Discussion of Religion (c. 1605).

Image Credit

A historian could BEST use this image to illustrate which of the following developments in Eurasian land empires?a) Accommodation of ethnic and religious diversity.
b) Monumental architecture legitimizing imperial rule.
c) Political rivalries intensifying religious splits.
d) Use of bureaucratic elites in administration.
Which of the following factors in South Asia contributed MOST to the attitude towards religion (as shown in the image)?
a) Mughal leaders’ adherence to Islam.
b) Sikhism’s development and growth post-1500 CE.
c) Diversity in religious identities amongst Mughal subjects.
d) Maratha resistance to Mughal authority.

Unit 5

Proclamation by Haitian General Jean-Jacques Dessalines. Delivered as a speech and then published in 1804 CE.
It is not enough to have expelled from your country the barbarians who have bloodied it for two centuries; it is not enough to have put an end to those resurgent factions that one after another mocked the phantom of liberty which france [sic] exposed to our eyes; it is necessary by a last act of national authority, to forever ensure the empire of liberty in the country that gave us birth; we must seize from the inhuman government that has for a long time kept us in the most humiliating torpor, all hope of re-enslaving us; we must then live independent or die.
Independence, or death….. let these sacred words unite us, and let them be the signal of battle, and of our reunion …”
Which of the following historical movements during this time period most directly contributed to this mode of thinking within the Haitain populace?
a) The Enlightenment.
b) The Renaissance.
c) The Protestant Reformation.
d) The Arab Spring.
What was a major inciting factor that lead Dessalines to continue the strides made by Toussaint L’Ouverture unto independence?
a) Napoleon’s acquisition of the Louisiana Territory.
b) Napoleon’s exile to the island of Elba.
c) France’s reinstatement of slavery in Guadeloupe and Martinique.
d) An influx of white settlers into the island nation.


Tamerlane (Timur), as a Turkish conqueror who created the Asian Timurid empire, truly embodied such expansionist efforts, and propelled himself into a seat of propriety in this manner. Prior knowledge is NEEDED for this one.
You’ll need to use the image in this one, and subtly utilize your prior knowledge about international culture and architectural trends in the 1300s (continuing into the modern day). For your reference, Islamic mosques are generally domed, containing exquisite towers, and courtyards!

Browse Study Guides By Unit
🐎Unit 1 – The Global Tapestry, 1200-1450
🐫Unit 2 – Networks of Exchange, 1200-1450
🕌Unit 3 – Land-Based Empires, 1450-1750
🍕Unit 4 – Transoceanic Interactions, 1450-1750
✊🏽Unit 5 – Revolutions, 1750-1900
🚂Unit 6 – Consequences of Industrialization, 1750-1900
💣Unit 7 – Global Conflict, 1900-Present
🥶Unit 8 – Cold War & Decolonization, 1900-Present
✈️Unit 9 – Globalization, 1900-Present
✏️Frequently Asked Questions
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