AP United States Government and Politics

Learn all about the course and exam.

About the Course

Study the key concepts and institutions of the political system and culture of the United States. You’ll read, analyze, and discuss the U.S. Constitution and other documents as well as complete a research or applied civics project.

Skills You'll Learn

  • Connecting political concepts to real-life situations

  • Explaining the impact and implications of certain U.S. Supreme Court decisions

  • Analyzing data to find patterns and trends and draw conclusions

  • Reading and analyzing text and visual sources

  • Developing a claim or thesis and supporting it in an essay

Equivalency and Prerequisites

College Course Equivalent

A one-semester introductory college course in U.S. government

Recommended Prerequisites

None

Exam Dates

About the Units

The course content outlined below is organized into commonly taught units of study that provide one possible sequence for the course. Your teacher may choose to organize the course content differently based on local priorities and preferences.

Course Content

You’ll learn how the men who created the U.S. Constitution set up a structure of government intended to stand the test of time, and how the compromises they made left some questions unresolved that continue to be debated today.

Topics may include:

  • The ideals of democracy as shown in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution
  • Federalist and Anti-Federalist views on central government and democracy
  • Separation of powers and “checks and balances”
  • The relationship between the states and the federal government (federalism)
  • How federalism has been interpreted differently over time

On The Exam

15%–22% of multiple-choice score

You’ll continue to explore how the government sets and administers policy, and you’ll learn about the complexities of this process.

Topics may include:

  • The structures, powers, and functions of each house of Congress
  • The roles and powers of the president
  • The roles and powers of the Supreme Court and other federal courts
  • The roles of the federal bureaucracy (departments, agencies, commissions, and government corporations)

On The Exam

25%–36% of multiple-choice score

You’ll connect what you’ve learned about the founding principles of our government to the debates over how best to balance freedom and order.

Topics may include:

  • The intent of the Bill of Rights
  • The First Amendment (freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and freedom of the press) and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it
  • The Second Amendment (the right to bear arms) and how the Supreme Court has interpreted it
  • Supreme Court interpretations of other amendments
  • How the due process and equal protection clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment have motivated social movements

On The Exam

13%–18% of multiple-choice score

You’ll explore the various beliefs that U.S. citizens hold about government, how these beliefs are shaped, and how they affect which policies citizens support.

Topics may include:

  • How cultural and social factors affect citizens’ beliefs about government
  • How polls are used to gather data about public opinion
  • The ideologies of the Democratic and Republican parties
  • How political ideologies affect policy on economic and social issues

On The Exam

10%–15% of multiple-choice score

You’ll learn about the many ways that U.S. citizens can influence the decisions the government makes.

Topics may include:

  • Laws that protect the right to vote
  • Why it’s hard for third parties and independent candidates to succeed
  • Interest groups and their influence
  • Campaign finance and its role in elections
  • The media’s role in elections

On The Exam

20%–27% of multiple-choice score

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Course Resources

See Where AP Can Take You

AP United States Government and Politics can lead to a wide range of careers and college majors

Career Areas 76
Majors 28

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