Is AP Human Geography Hard

Every year in high school, you are faced with the decision of taking advanced placement classes or not. Some high school students take as many AP classes as they can to qualify for more college credits, while others only take one or two that they want to work really hard in. One of the most asked about AP classes is human geography, and whether the class and/or the test is difficult.

AP Human Geography is typically not a difficult AP class or exam. Students who take the AP Human Geography exam have a 59% chance of getting a 3 or higher, which is passing for many colleges. Former AP Human Geography students have enjoyed the class because it is was not too difficult.

The AP Human Geography class and exam are not too difficult when compared to other AP classes and exams. Keep reading to learn more about what to expect from the class, the exam, and some things you will need to be prepared for.

AP Human Geography: What is it?

Before we talk about any details of the AP Human Geography class, exam, or content, it is important to know what human geography is. Many people have not even heard of this subject so it should be helpful to have an understanding of what the class content might be like.

At its very root, human geography is the study of the interactions between people, objects, and space. It spans across many locations and studies the differences between how people interact with the geography around them in different locations.

This kind of study is focused less on how the space and objects around us shape the earth, and more on how the space and objects around us, specifically locations, affect us.

Human Geography can be quite interesting and applicable in a lot of different fields of work. There are many subsections under the subject of human geography, some being cultural geography, economic geography, migrations studies, geopolitics, urban geography, and more.

Each subsection of human geography can help a student be more aware of how people interact with their surroundings.

Some of the 71 career paths and 20 college majors that human geography can help with are:

  • Marketing: understanding how humans interact with the geography around them helps in marketing by helping businesses know where to place their stores and advertisements to get the most customers.
  • Politics: Politicians need to know how the locations where people live affect their lives so they can help organize laws and regulations to make the most of the area.
  • Economics: Economists can understand how different locations have an effect on the local, national, and worldwide economy by understanding human geography.
  • Business: Businesses need to understand what people in different locations need and want so they can sell the most applicable products, and be successful in any area.
  • Design: Understanding the people in all sorts of locations can help designers understand what people want to see so they can create any kind of design that people in that place will love.
  • Architecture: The buildings in a location play a huge role in human geography, so if an architect understands how different locations require different architecture, then they will be able to design relevant structures to that area.
  • City Planning: City planners need to take human geography into account because it plays a huge role in creating the habits of people in different locations and how they interact with their cities.

These are just a few careers that human geography plays a huge role in, but virtually all careers can benefit from an understanding of human geography. Now that you understand what human geography is and why it is so important, let’s take a look at what you should be prepared to learn about when taking AP Human Geography.

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What To Be Prepared For

We know what human geography is generally, but there are a lot of different parts to it and it is important to know what to be prepared to learn and study when taking the class or preparing for the exam.

If you are deciding on when you want to take the class, or if you don’t know if you will like it, we will talk about how to plan when to take the class, and what kinds of students enjoy AP Human Geography.

When to Take AP Human Geography

AP Human Geography is typically one of the first AP classes that high school students take. The exam is not too difficult and the class content is relatively easy to understand, so it is a good beginner AP class.

Generally, freshmen and sophomores take AP Human Geography, but there are a number of reasons why some people take it earlier or later in their high school career. It is up to each student to decide when they want to take it, or if they even want to take it at all.

Some students decide to take AP Human Geography earlier on in high school. They might choose to do this because they plan on taking a lot of AP classes and exams.

Taking it early on makes it so they can focus more on the harder AP classes and exams later. Taking AP Human Geography early on can also introduce you to the AP format of classes and exams so you are more prepared for the harder ones later.

Sometimes students wait to take the class until they are a junior, and sometimes even a senior. Waiting to take the class has its benefits too. Taking AP Human Geography, later on, might be better for you if you only plan on taking a few, select AP classes and exams.

This way, you can be more capable of meeting the writing requirements and balancing the workload. You will also have more experience with AP classes and Exams if you wait to take AP Human Geography, which can help you get a better exam score.

Whenever you choose to take AP Human Geography, or if you even take it at all, there are benefits to both waiting to take it and getting it out of the way early on. You can talk to your parents or a school counselor to figure out when it might be best for you to take AP Human Geography.

Kinds of students that enjoy AP Human Geography

If you don’t know whether you will enjoy AP Human Geography or not, we can give you some examples of students who do enjoy the class. If you find that you relate to these kinds of students, then you should really consider taking this class. It is not usually a required credit, so it is completely up to the student to decide whether they want to take it or not.

  • If you have an interest in social science, then you will probably enjoy this class. There is a huge focus on how humans interact with the objects around them and how our surroundings change the way we act.
  • If you want to get a head start on college, then taking AP Human Geography is a great way to do that. It is relatively easy and can get you a couple college credits in high school.
  • If you are a hard worker, taking AP Human Geography will not be very stressful and you will not have trouble in class or on the exam. The content is not difficult, but it takes time to really commit it to memory.
  • If you enjoy reading and learning for fun, then this class will really help scratch that itch for some extra knowledge that not everyone has. You will also be naturally interested in the content.

These are not the only kinds of people who will enjoy this class, but hopefully gives you a good idea of whether you would enjoy the class or not.

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The Class

Now that you have a better understanding of if you want to take the class or not, and when, we should talk about what to expect from the class. This is mostly just about the class content and the major principles and skills you will learn from this class.

After taking this class, you will be able to connect the geographic and social concepts that you learn to real-life scenarios.

This will help you recognize the principles you learned in the world around you. In addition to this skill, you will learn how to understand spatial relationships with geographical scales. This can be incredibly useful in careers like architecture, city planning, and design.

AP Human Geography will also teach you how to better understand information from graphs, charts, tables, maps, and a bunch of other kinds of informational graphics. This is an applicable skill in practically all careers and it will definitely help you in your college classes.

When reading these info-graphics, you will have an easier time recognizing trends and patterns which will help you decipher the information more quickly and you will understand it on a deeper level.

This class covers content from the basics of thinking geographically, to understanding patterns and processes in a variety of cultural, economical, political, urban, and industrial areas of expertise. While all AP Human Geography teachers and classes are a bit different, this is generally what you can expect from the AP Human Geography curriculum.

The Exam

The AP Human Geography class is incredibly important in understanding the material that will be on the test. However, the exam is where all of your hard works pays off and a good score will get you college credits while you are still in high school.

Having college credits done in high school can save you tuition money, time, and energy while you are in college because you will not have to balance more classes on top of your major.

The AP Human Geography exam covers the content of the class and it is different every year. This is how all AP exams are. Some years have more difficult questions than others, so you should be prepared to study all of the information from class.

Generally, students who pay attention in class, absorb the material, and study at least a week before the exam do very well or at least pass. Understand the material and be confident in your knowledge and you will probably do fine.

The test takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to complete. An hour of that time is spent on the multiple-choice questions and another hour and 15 minutes are spent on the three, free-response questions.

Free-response questions require you to write short essays responding to the questions or info-graphics that they give you. Both the multiple-choice and free-response sections are worth 50% of your exam grade so you can’t just be prepared for one or the other.

The questions on the exam follow the four skills that you learn in the class. Each question will focus on one of those skills and you will have a random amount of each skill’s type of question. It is important to have a broad range of general understanding for the exam as opposed to a very specific understanding of a few concepts.

When it comes to scoring, in 2020 the AP Human Geography exam scores were not the best ratio of scores, but they were not horrible either.

For AP Human Geography, 11.8% of students got a 5, 22.4% got a 4, 24.8% got a 3, 10.9% got a 2, and 30.1% got a 1. It is not too difficult to get at least a 3 on the exam, and for most colleges, a 3 is passing and will give you those extra credits.

It is a relatively popular AP exam as well with 193,660 students who took it in May of 2021, making it the 9th most popular AP test for 2021

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Whether you take the AP Human Geography class and exam or not, this information should give you a good idea of what the class and exam are like.

If AP Human Geography interests you and you have room for it in your high school schedule, we encourage you to take it and get that extra experience because of how applicable it is to so many different aspects of life.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of the College Reality Check.

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