• Accessible Art History

AP Art History: Five Tips and Tricks


Welcome back to the Accessible Art History Blog! Now that we are into the full swing of the school year, I thought that it would be a good idea to write about my tips and tricks for taking AP Art History. This school year, like the rest of 2020, is shaping up to be quite different than we all expected. So, I hope this post can help make things, at least, a bit easier. If you are an AP Art History student or educator and need assistance, please don’t hesitate to reach out to my email address: accessible.art.history@gmail.com


I took the test in 2009 and I used these five tips and tricks to help me receive a 5. Of course, nothing beats hard work and studying. But these things changed up the routine and helped me learn in new ways!



Tip 1: Understand Key Vocabulary Words


In each unit of AP Art History, there are specific vocabulary words for the type of art discussed. But, there are a handful of terms that can be used in any situation. By understanding them, you will be able to speak on at least one aspect of each of the 250 required works. They are as follows:


  • Composition: Elements of design, representation, and presentation that form the work of art.

  • Context: The subject matter of the work of art, i.e. religious, mythological, narrative.

  • Form: How the physical and visual parts of the work come together.

  • Function: The purpose of a work

  • Material: What the work is made of

  • Perspective: What viewpoint the artist intended the work to be seen from.


Tip 2: Practice Makes Perfect


I know it seems a bit silly to say this, but practice really does make perfect! By familiarizing yourself with the way that questions are phrased and what they are asking you to explain, the big exam day won’t seem so daunting. One of the best ways to practice comes from the College Board itself (the company that produces the AP exams). They have uploaded past exam questions to their website. I recommend downloading a few and seeing how you do!



Tip 3: Make it Fun


If there is one thing you take away from this blog post, it’s this: AP Art History doesn’t have to be boring! Art represents humanity and our collective story is anything but dull! So, take this as your opportunity to make it work for you. For each of the 250 required images, try and find something that stands out and interests you. Not only will this help your study session go by faster, but the more interesting something is, the more likely it is that you will remember it. A win win situation!



Tip 4: Use Flashcards for Required Images


Flashcards may seem a bit old fashioned, but they truly work with the study of art history. It is a visual subject, so visual study is key. There are tons of free, digital options available, but I recommend actually making them yourself, either digitally or by crafting. It may seem tedious at first, but the recording of information makes it far more likely that it will stick in your mind for the big test!



Tip 5: Utilize Free Resources


My final tip includes a bit of a shameless plug. There are a ton of free resources available online! One of them is my own: Accessible Art History. But others include Smarthistory, Khan Academy, and the numerous Instagram and YouTube channels dedicated to art history. Explore them and see which style fits what you’re looking for. It’s all about finding a system that makes it easier and more effective for your personal learning style!


As with any AP class, AP Art History can be daunting. But, if you utilize my five tips and tricks, it will hopefully be a bit easier to achieve a 5!


If there is a particular subject you would like me to cover (or see if I’ve covered already), feel free to reach out via email: accessible.art.history@gmail.com.




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