AP United States Government and Politics

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About the Exam

Important Update

Updated April 8 You can now download the digital testing application and take digital practice to prepare for the testing experience. See below for more information on digital practice and taking the digital exam.

2021 AP U.S. Government and Politics Exams will be offered on paper in early May and as a digital exam in late May and early June.

The paper and the digital versions of the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exams will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full scope of course content, giving you the opportunity to qualify for college credit and placement.

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP U.S. Government and Politics only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

Learn more about 2021 testing.


As the exam approaches, take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Exam Overview
The AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam will test your understanding of the political concepts covered in the course units, including your ability to analyze the foundational documents and to apply Supreme Court decisions you studied in the course to real-life scenarios.

Exam Duration
3hrs

Digital Practice and Testing Information

Updated April 8

Digital Practice Now Available

Starting April 8, you can try out the test-day experience, by answering example questions in the digital testing application. See the Digital Practice page for general information about practice options.

AP U.S. Government and Politics students will have two options to answer example questions in the digital testing application. Both provide approximately the same time limit per question as the full exam.

  • Digital Practice has a shortened multiple-choice section (12 questions, 20 minutes), a shortened break of 5 minutes, and a full-length free-response section (4 questions, 100 minutes).
  • The App Demo is an even shorter subset of the questions in Digital Practice–5 multiple-choice questions, a 2-minute break, and 1 free-response question.

We highly recommend you take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if you can’t take the Digital Practice, at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. You can access your answers and solution materials (MCQ answer key, FRQ scoring guidelines) for the Digital Practice. Note: Taking the App Demo after completing Digital Practice may override your answers from Digital Practice.

Taking the Digital Exam

You should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that you’ll encounter–in the Digital Practice and on exam day:

  • As a reminder:
    • You will answer all multiple-choice questions and type all free-response answers directly in the digital exam application. Scratch paper is permitted for notes or planning, but you cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses
    • You cannot go back to questions you’ve already answered, and cannot   skip ahead. 
  • Exam directions and section-specific directions will not be read by a proctor–they’ll appear entirely in the application. You’ll see them at the beginning of each section, and can access them at any time during the exam. Please note that the exam timer starts when the directions appear. While you should read the directions, be aware that the timer will be running while you do so. You can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.

Exam Dates

  • Mon, May 3, 2021,
    8 AM Local

    Paper, In School

    AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam

    This is the Administration 1 date for the AP United States Government and Politics Exam.

  • Thu, May 20, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam

    This is the Administration 2 date for the AP United States Government and Politics Exam.

  • Thu, Jun 3, 2021,
    12 PM EDT

    Digital, In School and At Home

    AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam

    This is the Administration 3 date for the AP United States Government and Politics Exam.

Exam Components

Note on 2021 Exams 

Both the paper and digital versions of the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full range of skills and knowledge specified in the course and exam description

There are differences between the paper and digital versions of some 2021 AP Exams, and those variations differ by course. The information below applies to AP U.S. Government and Politics only. View a summary of all 2021 AP Exam formats.

55 questions 1hr 20mins 50% of Score

The multiple-choice section includes individual, single questions as well as sets of questions. You’ll be asked to:

  • Describe, explain, and compare political concepts and processes
  • Apply Supreme Court decisions in real-life scenarios
  • Analyze data in graphs, charts, tables, maps, or infographics
  • Read and analyze foundational documents and other text-based and visual sources

4 questions 1hr 40mins 50% of Score

In the free-response section, you’ll respond to four questions with written answers. The section includes:

  • 1 concept application question: You’ll describe and explain the effects of a political institution, behavior, or process, and apply concepts in a new situation.
  • 1 quantitative analysis question: You’ll analyze data in the form of a table, graph, map, or infographic to find patterns and trends and reach a conclusion.
  • 1 SCOTUS comparison question: You’ll compare a nonrequired Supreme Court case with a required one, explaining how information from the required case is relevant to the nonrequired one.

    The first task of the SCOTUS Comparison question will be worded slightly differently on the paper and pencil and the digital exams, due to exam security requirements:
     
    • On the paper and pencil exam, the prompt specifies 1 required SCOTUS case, and you are asked to identify how that required case is related to the case given in the scenario.
       
    • On the digital exam, you will be asked to choose 1 required SCOTUS case from a provided list, and describe how that required case you choose is related to the case given in the scenario.
       
    •  
  • This change is included in the example FRQ 3 in Digital Practice.]
  • 1 argument essay: You’ll write an evidence-based essay supporting a claim or thesis.

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