Top 5 Study Tips for the AP Human Geography Exam

April 5, 2024
Top 5 Study Tips for the AP Human Geography Exam

Preparing for the AP Human Geography exam can seem overwhelming, but the following tips and resources will help you approach the test confidently and help you hit your goal AP Human Geography exam score.

AP Human Geography Exam Study Tip #1: Know the course goals and how the subdisciplines of human geography meet them.

This may seem fairly obvious. However, you should make sure that as you study each subdiscipline in the course, you can clearly describe geography within that subdiscipline. For example, what’s unique about political organization as com­pared with politics? Cities and urban land use as compared with urban studies? Or cultural patterns and processes as compared with cultural studies?

AP Human Geography Exam Study Tip #2: Think spatially.

Think in multiple ways! You need to read and understand any ­spatial data in the text and test (e.g., maps) carefully. You must also be able to think across scales. How might spatial patterns and processes (or representations of them) ­differ when looking at large-scale spaces (e.g., the world) compared with small-scale spaces (e.g., your neighborhood)?

AP Human Geography Exam Study Tip #3: Know current examples.

As you will quickly notice when completing the practice tests, free-response questions often ask for examples. As you learn the concepts in each chapter, keep lists of current events that accurately illustrate concepts, processes, and ­models. Watch and read the news. Think about how the news connects to human geography!

AP Human Geography Exam Study Tip #4: Look for interconnections.

Pay special attention to the different subdisciplines. Can your free-response question on urban models bring in some of your knowledge about economic development? How does culture influence economic development? What are the connections between population dynamics and urbanization? Do not memorize concepts in isolation. Instead, constantly try to connect across topic areas.

AP Human Geography Exam Study Tip #5: Focus on figures.

Figures (maps, graphics, charts, and tables) frequently appear on the test in both multiple-choice and free-response questions. Do not skip over the figures in the text! Instead, know them by name, make sure you know how they work, and be able to describe what they represent.

AP Human Geography Exam Study Resources

In addition to the Barron’s AP Human Geography book, any of the major introductory Human Geography textbooks on the market can help provide additional content information to that contained in this book. Some popular ones include:

  • Bjelland, Mark, Daniel R. Montello, Jerome Fellman, Arthur Getis, and Judith Getis. Human Geography: Landscapes of Human Activities. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2013. 
  • Domosh, Mona, Roderick P. Neumann, Patricia L. Price, and Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov. The Human Mosaic: The Cultural Approach to Human Geography. New York: W.H. Freeman and Company, 2011.
  • Fouberg, Erin H., Alexander B. Murphy, and H.J. de Blij. Human Geography: People, Place, and Culture. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2015.
  • Knox, Paul L., and Sallie Marston. Human Geography: Places and Regions in Global Context. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2015. 
  • Malinowski, Jon C., and David Kaplan. Human Geography. New York: McGraw-Hill, 2012. 
  • Norton, William. Human Geography. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 
  • Rubenstein, James M. The Cultural Landscape: An Introduction to Human Geography. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2016. 

Additionally, it would be helpful to have a good atlas on hand. The more you familiarize yourself with the geographic locations of specific places and their relative locations, the better your ability to effectively answer multiple-choice and free-response questions. 

AP Human Geography Online Resources

The following set of websites provides information relevant either to the test specifically (the College Board’s site) or to information that will help you ­ strengthen your general knowledge of human geography. 

  • The website for the test. Here you will find answers to any questions you might have about the test; additionally, you will find example multiple-choice questions AND the free-response questions and example answers for the last five years.
  • This website is fantastic for obtaining general information on any country in the world. 
  • The factfinder data provided on this website allows you to see spatial variation (at the county level) in nearly every variable measured by the census. 
  • The website that accompanies a good global news magazine. Visiting this website can provide you with some great examples of how human geography concepts and processes apply in current events across the globe. 
  • This website provides a variety of helpful materials from maps to brief interesting stories, to lesson plans and projects that can help you strengthen your knowledge of different areas of human geography.