AP United States Government and Politics

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Advanced Placement United States Government and Politics (often shortened to AP Gov) is a college-level course and examination offered to high school students through the College Board's Advanced Placement Program. This course surveys the structure and function of American government and politics that begins with an analysis of the United States Constitution, the foundation of the American political system. Students study the three branches of government, administrative agencies that support each branch, the role of political behavior in the democratic process, rules governing elections, political culture, and the workings of political parties and interest groups.[1]

Topic outline[edit]

The material in the course is composed of multiple subjects from the Constitutional roots of the United States to recent developments in civil rights and liberties. The AP United States Government examination covers roughly six subjects listed below in approximate percentage composition of the examination.[2]

Foundations of American Democracy (15-22%)[edit]

Interactions Among Branches of Government (25-36%)[edit]

Civil Liberties and Civil Rights (13-18%)[edit]

American Political Ideologies and Beliefs (10–15%)[edit]

Political Participation (20-27%)[edit]

  • Political parties and elections
    • Functions
    • Organization
    • Development
    • Effects on the political process
    • Electoral laws and systems
  • Interest groups, including political action committees (PACs)
    • The range of interests represented
    • The activities of interest groups
    • The effects of interest groups on the political process
    • The unique characteristics and roles of PACs in the political process
  • The mass media
    • The functions and structures of the media
    • The impact of media on politics

Public Policy (Part of the Units, embedded within all 5 units)[edit]

Required Supreme Court cases and Foundation Documents[edit]

Supreme Court cases[edit]

Starting from 2019 Administration of the Test, the College Board requires students to know 15 Supreme Court cases.[3] These 15 Supreme Court case are listed below:

Supreme Court case Year Significance Law Applied
McCulloch v. Maryland 1819 Established supremacy of the U.S. Constitution and federal laws over state laws U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 1, 18
United States v. Lopez 1995 Congress may not use the commerce clause to make possession of a gun in a school zone a federal crime U.S. Const. art. I, § 8, cl. 3
Engel v. Vitale 1962 School sponsorship of religious activities violates the establishment clause U.S. Const. amend. I
Wisconsin v. Yoder 1972 Compelling Amish students to attend school past the eighth grade violates the free exercise clause U.S. Const. amend. I; Wis. Stat. § 118.15 (Wisconsin Compulsory School Attendance Law)
Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District 1969 Public school students have the right to wear black armbands in school to protest the Vietnam War U.S. Const. amends. I, XIV; 42 U.S.C. § 1983
New York Times Co. v. United States 1971 Bolstered the freedom of the press, establishing a “heavy presumption against prior restraint” even in cases involving national security U.S. Const. amend. I
Schenck v. United States 1919 Speech creating a “clear and present danger” is not protected by the First Amendment U.S. Const. amend. I; 50 U.S.C. § 33
Gideon v. Wainwright 1963 Guaranteed the right to an attorney for the poor or indigent in a state felony case U.S. Const. amends. VI, XIV
Roe v. Wade 1973 Extended the right of privacy to a woman's decision to have an abortion U.S. Const. amends. IX, XIV;
Tex. Code Crim. Proc. arts. 1191–1194, 1196
McDonald v. Chicago 2010 The Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms for self-defense is applicable to the states U.S. Const. amend. II, XIV
Brown v. Board of Education 1954 Race-based school segregation violates the equal protection clause U.S. Const. amend. XIV
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission 2010 Political spending by corporations, associations, and labor unions is a form of protected speech under the First Amendment U.S. Const. amend. I, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act
Baker v. Carr 1961 Opened the door to equal protection challenges to redistricting and the development of the “one person, one vote” doctrine by ruling that challenges to redistricting did not raise “political questions” that would keep federal courts from reviewing such challenges U.S. Const. amend. XIV; U.S. Const. art. III; 42 U.S.C. § 1983; Tenn. Const. art. II
Shaw v. Reno 1993 Majority-minority districts, created under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, may be constitutionally challenged by voters if race is the only factor used in creating the district N/A
Marbury v. Madison 1803 Established the principle of judicial review empowering the Supreme Court to nullify an act of the legislative or executive branch that violates the Constitution U.S. Const. art. I; U.S. Const. art. III, § 2; Judiciary Act of 1789 § 13

Foundation Documents[edit]

Same as Supreme Court Case, the College Board requires students to know 9 Foundation Documents.[4] The 9 Documents are listed below:

Foundation Document Year
Federalist No. 10 1787
Brutus No. 1
The Declaration of Independence 1776
The Articles of Confederation 1781
The Constitution of the United States 1789
Federalist No. 51 1788
Federalist No. 70
Federalist No. 78
Letter from Birmingham Jail 1963

Exam[edit]

The Multiple-Choice section is analytical and the Free-Response questions are fairly consistent.[5]

  • Section I: Multiple-Choice (80 minutes, 55 questions, 50% of Total Exam Scores)
  • Section II: Free-response (100 minutes, 4 questions, 50% of Total Exam Scores)
Question # 1 2 3 4
Question Type Concept Application Quantitative Analysis Supreme Court Case(s) Comparison Argument Essay
Time Suggested 20 minutes 20 minutes 20 minutes 40 minutes
Percentage of Total Exam Score Each free response question counts as 12.5% of the exam score.

Grade distribution[edit]

In the 2007 administration, 160,978 students took the exam from 6,306 schools.[6] In the 2008 administration, 177,522 students took the exam.[7] In the 2009 administration, 189,998 students took the exam.[8] In the 2010 administration, 211,681 students took the exam.[9] In the 2011 administration, 225,837 students took the exam.[10] [11] In the 2018 administration, 326,392 students took the exam.[12] The grade distributions since 2007 were:

Final Score 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018[13] 2019[14] 2020[15] 2021[16]
5 6.0% 12.2% 13.1% 12.5% 12.6% 12.5% 11.3% 11.9% 9.8% 12.4% 11.2% 13.4% 12.9% 15.5% 11%
4 18.9% 13.1% 17.0% 13.3% 13.9% 14.9% 14.3% 12.5% 13.6% 13.5% 12.5% 13.3% 12.4% 16.5% 11%
3 26.9% 25.2% 25.4% 25.4% 25.1% 24.8% 26.1% 26.4% 24.7% 25% 25.8% 26.5% 29.9% 25.5% 27%
2 32.1% 25.8% 24.2% 24.0% 24.3% 24.6% 24.8% 24.7% 25% 24% 24.7% 24.5% 24.8% 22.0% 27%
1 16.1% 23.7% 20.2% 24.7% 24.1% 23.2% 23.5% 24.6% 26.9% 25.1% 25.8% 22.3% 20.0% 20.5% 23%
% of Scores 3 or Higher 51.8% 50.5% 55.5% 51.2% 51.6% 52.2% 51.7% 50.8% 48.1% 50.9% 49.5% 53.2% 55.2% 57.5% 49%
Mean Score 2.67 2.64 2.78 2.65 2.67 2.69 2.65 2.63 2.54 2.64 2.59 2.71 2.73 2.85
Standard Deviation 1.13 1.30 1.30 1.32 1.32 1.31 1.29 1.30 1.28 1.32 1.30 1.31 1.27 1.34
Number of Students 225,837 239,513 255,758 271,043 282,571 296,108 319,612 326,392 314,825 293,196 260,941

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Government and Politics United States Comparative Course Description" (PDF). The College Board. pp. 9–13. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 23, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  2. ^ "Government and Politics United States Comparative Course Description" (PDF). The College Board. pp. 14–15. Archived from the original (PDF) on April 23, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  3. ^ "AP® U.S. Government and Politics Course And Exam Description" (PDF). The College Board. pp. 48–49. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  4. ^ "AP® U.S. Government and Politics Course And Exam Description" (PDF). The College Board. pp. 46–47. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  5. ^ "AP® U.S. Government and Politics Course And Exam Description" (PDF). The College Board. p. 80. Retrieved March 8, 2019.
  6. ^ "U.S. Government & Politics Grade Distribution". collegeboard.com, Inc. Archived from the original on May 8, 2008. Retrieved May 3, 2008.
  7. ^ "2008 U.S. Government & Politics Grade Distribution" (PDF). collegeboard.com, Inc. Archived (PDF) from the original on February 19, 2009. Retrieved March 28, 2009.
  8. ^ "2009 U.S. Government & Politics Grade Distribution" (PDF). collegeboard.com, Inc. Archived (PDF) from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved November 21, 2009.
  9. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on March 28, 2012. Retrieved September 9, 2011.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on January 5, 2015. Retrieved May 6, 2012.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Packer, Trevor. "2012 AP Exam Score Distributions". Total Registration. Archived from the original on July 17, 2012. Retrieved July 10, 2012.
  12. ^ "Student Score Distributions 2018" (PDF). The College Board. 2018. Retrieved April 4, 2019.
  13. ^ Total Registration (June 20, 2018). "@AP_Trevor: "The 2018 AP US Government & Politics scores: 5: 13.4%; 4: 13.3%; 3: 26.5%; 2: 24.5%; 1: 22.3%. Kudos to these students and their teachers, as these are the highest scores in many years. (By way of comparison, just a few years ago, the percentage of 5s was 9.8%.)"". twitter.com.
  14. ^ Total Registration (June 28, 2019). "2019 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved June 28, 2019.
  15. ^ "STUDENT SCORE DISTRIBUTIONS" (PDF). Retrieved June 9, 2021.
  16. ^ Total Registration (July 16, 2021). "2021 AP Exam Score Distributions". www.totalregistration.net. Retrieved July 17, 2021.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

External links[edit]