The AP® U.S. Government and Politics exam covers a breadth of topics surrounding the cultural, political, and social changes in U.S. History. The exam itself contains four free-response questions that require students to write two essays. They are:

  • Concept Application
  • Quantitative Analysis
  • SCOTUS Comparison
  • Argument Essay

To make sure that you nail these essays, it’s crucial that you know what to expect from each one. That’s why we want to walk you through what exactly is on the AP® U.S. Government and Politics exam, as well as what you’ll see in the free-response section.

What’s on the AP® U.S. Government and Politics exam?

The AP® U.S. Government and Politics exam tests students on their knowledge of the United States governing bodies, processes, policies, and history.

The course itself will go over five units covering the following topics:

  1. Foundations of American Democracy
  2. Interactions Among Branches of Government
  3. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
  4. American Political Ideologies and Beliefs
  5. Political Participation

Students have 3 hours and 15 minutes to complete the exam. There is a 1 hour and 20-minute multiple-choice section, followed by a 1 hour and 40-minute free-response section. A full breakdown of each section is provided below:


Multiple-choice (1 hour 20 minutes)

●       55 questions

●       50% of total exam score

Free-response (1 hour 40 minutes)

●       4 questions

●       25% of total exam score

Now that we know how the exam is broken down, let’s take a deeper look into the free-response essays on the AP® U.S. Government and Politics exam.

Breakdown: Free-response essays on the AP® U.S. Government and Politics exam

There are four questions students must answer with an essay on the AP® U.S. Government and Politics exam.

The questions are:

  1. Concept Application. Students are given a political scenario and must explain the impact of a political “institution, behavior, or process.”
  2. Quantitative Analysis. Students are given a piece of quantitative data, and they must show how that data relates to a political process.
  3. SCOTUS Comparison. Students are tasked with comparing a non-required Supreme Court case with a required one and showing how they’re relevant to one another.
  4. Argument Essay. Students must craft an argument essay based on required documents and evidence.

College Board suggests that students take at least 20 minutes to answer each question during the allotted time.

Prepare with FREE practice tests

The best way to get better at something is by practicing.

That’s why it’s important that you take practice tests to help you get better at the AP® U.S. Government and Politics Exam. Only then can you expect to get a good score and improve.

That’s why we want to help. Marco Learning has created a host of resources to help you prepare for AP® exams, including video lessons, study guides, drills, and, most importantly, practice tests.

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