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Changes to the AP World History Course


If you don’t follow the raging academic and educational debates of the day, you may be unaware that the AP World History course (or WHAP as we call it), has changed. Through last May, the test covered content spanning prehistory all the way until the present, over 10,000 years of history! There was frequent student and teacher feedback to the College Board that this was way too much information to cover in one school year. So, in the summer of 2018, the College Board announced they would be changing the start date of the content to 1450 CE. This then caused quite the debate.

You see the AP European History test has a start date of 1450 CE, and arguably history from 1450 CE onwards is pretty much Europe slowly, and then more quickly, taking over much of the rest of the world. Also the students would miss several of the great empires that arose in the Middle East, South America, Asia and Africa that all had significant impacts on world history. For much of the summer of 2018 there were scathing Twitter threads, blog posts and beyond made by academics and teachers from all over. They all complained about the Eurocentrism (the focus on Europe interacting with the rest of the world) of the new proposed start date. 

So the College Board reexamined things, and came back that they were going to switch the start date for WHAP to 1200 CE. So much to the partial relief of all, the course now covers the height of the Silk Road, the Mongol Empire, various Islamic Caliphates and the rise of some of the western hemisphere empires. It is still a controversial decision, since it leaves out the origins of most of the world’s religions and skips over fascinating ancient civilizations. We will have to see what happens moving forward.

What does this mean for a student who is taking WHAP? To begin with the official name of the course is now AP World History: Modern. Next, the textbook companies and teachers have been scrambling to put materials together to fit the new path of the course. Also, a number of the teachers are still teaching some of the history that happens before 1200 CE, as not only is having some of the background helpful, but not all the textbooks have been updated. This means that the content from around 1200 CE is mixed in with content from 1000 CE or earlier in some books. 


Luckily WHAP tutors here at AJ are trained in not only the current content of the course, but also former content of the course. This means that a WHAP tutor would be able to help support a student through the confusion of the AP test change and help them succeed in their WHAP class! We’ve also spent the summer updating our WHAP test preparation materials so that they reflect the changes, so we will be able to help a WHAP student prepare in the spring for the AP test. 

The one other point to note is that while the College Board has updated the date range of their AP World History course, they have NOT updated the date range of the World History SAT Subject test. This test still covers all of human history, so WHAP students will be missing a good 8,000 or more years of content that appears on the SAT subject test. Typically we recommend that if a student has taken the AP class in a history subject, it is worth them possibly taking the SAT subject test in that history subject (there is a US History subject test and a World History subject test). This will no longer be the case for students who take WHAP, unless they are willing to do significant content review first. But guess what, AJ WHAP tutors can help with that too! We are currently putting together a plan for new WHAP students that want to try the World History SAT Subject test, and it will be ready in the spring when most of the new WHAP students will be thinking of taking the test.

If you’d like to talk through your specific situation, make a plan, and get connected to a history & test preparation expert, please reach out to us.


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