AP U.S. History Multiple Choice Practice Questions

AP U.S. History Multiple Choice Practice Questions

Part A of Section I consists of multiple-choice question sets that typically contain three or four questions and can focus on any historical period. A primary or secondary source is provided for each question set, which could be a passage, image, graph, or map. The questions assess your ability to understand and analyze historical texts and interpretations, as well as your ability to make larger historical connections. Keep in mind that even if a question set is based on a specific historical period, the individual questions may require you to make connections to other periods and events.

The questions range from easy and medium to difficult with no distinct pattern to their appearance within the exam. In other words, the easiest question may be the last one, so make sure to go through all of the exam questions! A solid strategy for the multiple-choice section is to do multiple passes:

  1. On your first pass, answer all of the questions that you know and are sure about.
  2. Next, go back through the remaining questions. If you can eliminate at least two answer choices and the topic is familiar, take your best educated guess as to the answer. If you look at the question and do not remember the topic, mark the question with an X in your exam booklet and move on. (If you skip a question, make sure that you skip that line on the answer grid!)
  3. Go back through the exam for a third time to answer the questions you marked with an X. Again, try to eliminate at least two choices, and take an educated guess. If you’re still not sure, at this point, just bubble in an answer for the question; remember that there is no penalty for guessing on the AP exam multiple-choice questions.
  4. With the time remaining, remove any extraneous marks in your answer grid (such as any X’s you may have left), and make sure that the answers you have bubbled in correspond to the correct numbers in the test booklet.


Multiple Choice Practice Questions

Questions 1-3 refer to the following quotation.

“With the [cotton gin], a single operator could clean as much cotton in a few hours as a group of workers had once needed a whole day to do . . . Soon cotton growing spread into the upland South and beyond, within a decade the total crop increased eightfold . . . The cotton gin not only changed the economy of the South, it also helped transform the North. The large supply of domestically produced fiber was a strong incentive to entrepreneurs in New England and elsewhere to develop an American textile industry.”

Alan Brinkley, American History: Connecting with the Past, 2014

1. Based on this analysis, which of the following best describes the political and economic developments of the North and the South in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries?

(A)  The North and the South cooperated politically and economically to develop a successful textile industry.

(B)  Both the North and the South depended upon legislation supporting slavery. 

(C)  The North and the South further separated because of rapid industrialization in the North and heavy dependence on agriculture in the South. 

(D)  As the South began to develop industrially, it became politically and economically independent of the North. 


2. The cotton gin’s impact on society is analogous to the impact of all of the following innovations EXCEPT

(A)  the assembly line 

(B)  the telegraph 

(C)  the sewing machine

(D)  the application of steam power to factories


3. Which of the following was a direct effect of the invention of the cotton gin? 

(A)  The invention of the steel plow

(B)  The spread of the plantation system into Northern states

(C)  The development of the Lowell factory system in New England

(D)  The introduction of the factory system in the South

Answers and Explanations

Question 1

1. C

As the North developed industrially, the political land- scapes and economies of the North and the South further diverged; thus, (C) is correct. Industrial development primarily occurred in the North, and this development eventually led to the first industrial revolution in the United States; (A) is incorrect. Only the Southern economy depended on the plantation system, which depended on slavery, making (B) incorrect. (D) is incorrect because political and economic interaction and dependence still occurred, albeit to a lesser extent, between the North and the South.

Question 2

2. B

The introduction of the cotton gin increased the production of tangible (cotton) goods or outputs. The telegraph, on the other hand, had to do with abstract outputs such as increased communication. Therefore, (B) is correct. (A), (C), and (D) all had similar impacts as that of the cotton gin, since they also led to production of more tangible products. Like the cotton gin, the introduction of the assembly line increased production in factories and allowed industrialization to develop more quickly. In a similar way, sewing machines enabled the process of making clothing to become faster and less expensive, and steam power was used to increase productivity in factories.

Question 3

3. C

The Lowell factory system developed in response to the rapid growth of the cotton industry in the South after the invention of the cotton gin. This system, which primarily employed young women, was a textile factory system that emphasized efficiency, productivity, and profits. Thus, (C) is correct. (A) is incorrect because the steel plow was utilized to dig through the prairie grounds in the Midwest, not the fields of the South. As industry developed in the Northern states, the plantation system primarily stayed in the Southern states, making (B) incorrect. (D) is incorrect because an extensive factory system did not exist in the South during this time period.