Hello! This is about the AP United States Government and Politics exam, coming up on May 14th, 2013 at 8AM.
If you can’t be bothered to read all of this, I’ve included headers so you can find what’s important to you!
IF YOU’RE READING THIS IN THE FUTURE (2014 Exams):
Hi! First of all, I sincerely hope you’re reading this more than a couple of weeks before the exam, but if you’re not, feel free to follow my abridged guide to passing this exam, assuming they haven’t revamped the exam (and I doubt they will). If you’re going to take the test/class next year, you don’t need to start preparing now.
However, if you have not taken/not taking Government (honors) before taking AP US Government, I highly suggest you get a study book the summer before and read it. The five steps to a five would be good, since it’s brief and will give you a good idea of the class without overwhelming you. You can also try and find a student who’s taken the class and try to get a hold of their notes/review materials/books to prepare yourself, or simply talk to the teacher and see what you can do. However, most schools (at least in my area) require government honors as a prerequisite to AP US Government and Politics (AP Government for short hence forth), so keep that in mind. I can’t personally vouch for anyone who has skipped normal government, since my school takes government honors and AP US Government and makes AP Government into a year long course, while giving credit for the former two classes if students have not taken government honors.
First of all, I’m assuming that everyone has been taking the AP Government course this semester (or the previous one). However, I understand that for many this can be a difficult class, since it’s a lot to take in and relies heavily on vocabulary memorization and application as well as government procedures, but I’m here for you guys! So far, I’ve taken two full-length practice exams.
MY STATS (WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO ME??):
December: 5 (exact breakdown unavailable)
April: 5 (exact breakdown unavailable)
Both of my exams were graded by my teacher who has been an official AP grader for the past 7 years or so.
**Update: For those of you looking at this guide for the 2014 exam, I received a 5 on the May 2013 exam.
REPEAT AFTER ME:
“I can still get a lot done.” If you’re just now studying and reviewing for this exam, you still have time to up your scores and readiness. If you haven’t taken a full-length practice exam yet, I highly suggest that you do one this weekend (or sooner if you can), especially if you haven’t taken an AP class before. Knowing what you’re getting into is going to lower your anxiety and stress a lot. Trust me. I’ve been there. Plus, taking a practice exam will let you know what you need to focus on. Last minute studying is not the time to learn everything. It is a time to fine tune your skills. If you can breeze through the multiple choice, don’t bother with it. Work on your FRQs instead (and vice versa). Okay, so take that practice exam, and let’s get going.
Alright, so now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to what the test really is. I’m putting this here, because even i forget with all of the classes and breakdowns jumbled around in my head.
BREAKDOWN and WHAT TO BRING:
45 Minutes: Multiple Choice [60 questions] 50%
100 Minutes: FRQs [4 of them] -50%
That’s 145 minutes or a little more than 2 hours. Like all AP exams, you’re going to need to bring wooden #2 pencils, black pens (those provide the best contrast and thus make it easier for the readers. MAKE LIFE EASY FOR THE READERS), a watch, water, and a snack. The last three are optional but highly suggested, especially since this is a morning exam.
WHY TAKE THE EXAM SERIOUSLY:
Now, you may be wondering why you’ve bothered to take this AP Exam, especially if you hate the social sciences. Maybe you just took the class to look good on transcripts, your friends all signed up for it, or you didn’t realize that this actually might present a challenge to you.First of all, it’s a college-level class and shows colleges that you’re dedicated and willing to take on rigorous courses. If you couldn’t care less about impressing colleges, then think about this. AP classes are Advanced Placement classes. Scoring well on this exam can possibly give you credit at the university level, allowing you to skip it altogether and forget it forever or move onto a harder level class. Pretty great, right? Don’t blow this off, especially if you don’t want to deal with this in University. So now, how do we pass this nightmare?
HOW TO PASS THIS AND MOVE ON:
I can’t fit the answer to this in one post. Well, actually, I could, but it probably wouldn’t be very helpful. Therefore, I’m going to break the rest of this guide up into single posts relating to portions of the two sections. I’m going to start with the multiple choice and then cover the FRQs. The multiple choice will tentatively cover each portion (percentage) of the exam and guessing. The FRQ posts will cover the basics, how to write them, common things to remember, and probably a couple of practice FRQs. I might throw in a couple of extra posts should anyone else think of something or if I remember something important! The AP Government posts will be happening at a decent rate, since I really enjoy studying for this class. It’s also one of the classes that I feel I understand the best. However, expect them to be published less rapid than my more difficult or closer exams.
WHAT TO DO ON THE TEST DAY AND THE NIGHT BEFORE:
Don’t cram. Don’t try to read a bunch of study books. Don’t try to memorize all of the court cases and whatnot. Calm yourself, seriously. Just don’t stress out. You’ve been working on this all year, and while I know some of us have to put in the effort for a few courses, do not drive yourself crazy—anymore than you already have. You’ve been in school for years. The material may be new, but the test isn’t. You just have to polish up your skills, and you’ll have this in the bag!
Eat a healthy dinner early on in the evening, and relax. On the morning of the exam, wake up at a decent time. Don’t rush yourself in the morning. Allow yourself to wake up and get motivated. If you can get a group of friends together somewhere on campus, have breakfast. It helps to wake you up and it gives you an energy-boosting meal to start the test. Also, wear comfortable clothing in layers, so you’re not sweating or shivering for 2+ plus hours. Lastly, be calm and slay that test.
IN THE MEANTIME:
If you have any questions, feel free to MESSAGE ME. I’ll be happy to answer your questions or worries!