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AP®

The Exam

Put your knowledge of U.S. Government & Politics to the test -- and gain some college credit in the process. The exam gives you the chance to showcase your knowledge of the following areas: constitutional underpinnings of U.S. government; political beliefs and behaviors; political parties, interest groups, and mass media; institutions of national government: the Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy, and the federal courts; public policy; and civil rights and civil liberties.

About the Exam

The two-hour and 25-minute test includes a 45-minute multiple-choice section and a 100-minute free-response section. When studying for the exam, keep in mind that you'll be tested on the following skills, abilities, and knowledge:

  • Knowledge of facts, concepts, and theories pertaining to U.S. government and politics
  • Understanding of typical patterns of political processes and behavior and their consequences (including the components of political behavior, the principles used to explain or justify various government structures and procedures, and the political effects of these structures and procedures)
  • Analysis and interpretation of data and relationships in U.S. government and politics
  • Written analysis and interpretation of the subject matter of U.S. government and politics

Section I: Multiple-Choice

There are 60 questions in the multiple-choice section. Unlike other multiple-choice tests, random guessing can hurt your final score. While you don't lose anything for leaving a question blank, one quarter of a point is subtracted for each incorrect answer on the test. But if you have some knowledge of the question and can eliminate one or more answers, it's usually to your advantage to choose what you believe is the best answer from the remaining choices.

Section II: Free-Response

You'll have 100 minutes total to answer the four free-response questions. Each essay is weighted equally toward your final score. It's recommended that you spend 25 minutes on each question.

For the most part, the questions require you to integrate knowledge from different content areas. You may have to discuss examples, elucidate or evaluate general principles of U.S. government and politics, and/or analyze U.S. political relationships or events.

Each essay should demonstrate your ability to organize a coherent answer about the specific question; interpret and analyze tables, charts, and/or graphs, and draw logical conclusions from the data in relation to general political concepts or relationships; and stay on task.

Scoring the Exam

The multiple-choice and free-response sections receive equal weight toward your final exam grade.