AP US Government and Politics Exam: Proven Response Strategies
The AP US Government and Politics exam includes a free-response section. You have 1 hour 40 minutes to answer four questions. Each of these questions is worth 12.5% of the total score. The difference between this exam and many other AP exams is that you should answer all the four questions instead of choosing one option. Your audience will consist of readers hired by the College Board. They will score this section of the exam by hand. Given that a free-response section can be quite challenging, experts from college-writers.com decided to help you with some important information and advice.
All the free-response questions (FRQs) are different and focus on different aspects of AP U.S. Government and Politics. Here are the four types of FRQs:
Quantitative analysis: You should consider an information graphic, interpret the data, and apply it to government and politics issues.
Argument essay: You must write an essay with a thesis statement, support your point with evidence, and address the opposing viewpoints.
Concept application: Apply government and politics concepts to a certain scenario.
SCOTUS comparison: Compare a College Board’s required Supreme Court case to a non-required one.
Every exam includes these types of questions in the following order: concept application, quantitative analysis, SCOTUS comparison, and an argument essay. You will have to address a range of topics, and most prompts will require you to integrate several ideas, each of which contains 3-4 tasks.
The first three types of questions require you to clearly address all their parts in the form of organized paragraphs. Your readers should clearly understand your responses and easily navigate through your content. The argument essay implies writing a longer response based on a thesis statement. We recommend that you spend 20 minutes on each of the first three questions and 40 minutes on your argument essay.
AP US Government and Politics Writing Strategies
Here are some guidelines and writing strategies that will help you answer FRQs.
1. Try to answer every part of each of the given prompts. However, you may find yourself struggling to come up with an answer. In this case, just follow these tips.
- Try to make a plan. Spend some time brainstorming on the possible ideas that are related to the topic of your prompt. You may find some relevant information that will help you earn a few points.
- Don’t be afraid to include some extra information and to come up with your most educated guess. If you include incorrect information in your response, you won’t lose points, unless you make statements that clearly contradict each other.
- We also recommend that you provide two answers, especially if your prompt implies multiple correct responses and requires you to provide an explanation or example. If your answers don’t contradict each other and one of them is correct, you’ll earn some points. However, make sure that any additional information that you provide is directly related to the question.
2. Although you are allowed to provide extra information, don’t write too much because you’ll just waste your time. You should be able to address a specific part of your prompt in your response. Keep in mind that you’ll be able to earn points only if you complete the necessary tasks.
3. Don’t try to make your response longer by adding “fillers” — words that are not actually meaningful. The length of your response won’t affect your score, anyway. The main thing is the quality of your content and your ability to address the issues described in your prompt. Your time is limited so don’t waste it writing meaningless sentences and phrases.
4. Your response must be neat. You won’t get a good score if your readers don’t understand what you wrote. Your response will be read by actual people so keep it in mind while writing.
5. There’s no need to include your personal opinion on political parties or difficult political issues. Free-response prompts, even those from the argument essay section, won’t ask you about your political views. All you should do is provide confident assertions and support them with evidence. Use a neutral language and stick with an analytical approach.
6. Keep your responses well-organized to make them easy to understand.
- When responding to concept application, quantitative analysis, and SCOTUS comparison, write one paragraph for each part, and begin each paragraph with a topic sentence.
- When writing an argument essay, write several full paragraphs. Your goal is to make a thesis statement, to provide supporting evidence, and to address other viewpoints.
Mind Your Strengths
To get a high score, respond to all of the FRQs. However, it doesn’t matter in which order you will answer the prompts. We recommend that you start with the prompts you feel most comfortable with, using the best pieces of evidence that you have. Just make sure to write your response in the right area for that particular question.