AP US Government & Politics Exam

Can you discuss the strengths of the Constitution? Do you understand the role of PACs in our political process? The AP ® U.S. Government & Politics exam tests the topics and skills discussed in your AP Gov course. If you score high enough, your AP score could earn you college credit !

Check out our AP U.S. Government Guide for what you need to know about the exam:

AP Government Exam Overview

The College Board is very detailed in what they require your AP teacher to cover in his or her AP U.S. Government & Politics course. You should be familiar with the following topics:

  • Foundations of American Democracy: Ideals of Democracy; Types of Democracy; Government Power and Individual Rights; Challenges of the Articles of Confederation; Ratification of the U.S. Constitution; Principles of American Government; Relationship Between the States and Federal Government; Constitutional Interpretations of Federalism; Federalism in Action

  • Interactions Among Branches of Government: Congress: The Senate and the House of Representatives; Structures, Powers, and Functions of Congress; Congressional Behavior; Roles and Powers of the President; Checks on the Presidency; Expansion of Presidential Power; Presidential Communication; The Judicial Branch; Legitimacy of the Judicial Branch; The Court in Action; Checks on the Judicial Branch; The Bureaucracy; Discretionary and Rule-Making Authority; Holding the Bureaucracy Accountable; Policy and the Branches of Government

  • Civil Liberties and Civil Rights: The Bill of Rights; First Amendment: Freedom of Religion; First Amendment: Freedom of Speech; First Amendment: Freedom of the Press; Second Amendment: Right to Bear Arms; Amendments: Balancing Individual Freedom with Public Order and Safety; Selective Incorporation; Amendments: Due Process and the Rights of the Accused; Amendments: Due Process and the Right to Privacy; Social Movements and Equal Protection; Government Responses to Social Movements; Balancing Minority and Majority Rights; Affirmative Action

  • American Political Ideologies and Beliefs: American Attitudes About Government and Politics; Political Socialization; Changes in Ideology; Influence of Political Events on Ideology; Measuring Public Opinion; Evaluating Public Opinion Data; Ideologies of Political Parties; Ideology and Policy Making; Ideology and Economic Policy; Ideology and Social Party

  • Political Participation: Voting Rights and Models of Voting Behavior; Voter Turnout; Political Parties; How and Why Political Parties Change and Adapt; Third-Party Politics; Interest Groups Influencing Policy Making; Groups Influencing Policy Outcomes; Electing a President; Congressional Elections; Modern Campaigns; Campaign Finance; The Media; Changing Media

For a comprehensive content review, check out our book,  AP U.S. Government & Politics Prep

AP U.S. Government & Politics Required Supreme Court Cases

For information regarding required Supreme Court cases to know for the course and potentially the exam, refer to the AP U.S. Government & Politics Course and Exam Description, Effective Fall 2022 .

AP U.S. Government & Politics Sections & Question Types

The AP U.S. Government and Politics exam is 3 hours long and has two sections: a multiple-choice section and a free response section.


Number of Questions

% of Exam Score

Section 1

80 minutes

55 multiple-choice questions


Section 2

100 minutes

4 free-response questions


Multiple-Choice Questions

The AP U.S. Government & Politics multiple-choice questions test the following skills:

  • Application of political concepts and processes in hypothetical and authentic contexts
  • Application of SCOTUS decisions in authentic contexts
  • Analysis and interpretation of quantitative data
  • Analysis and interpretation of sources

AP Gov Free Response Questions (FRQ)

For success on the AP U.S. Government & Politics FRQs, you'll need to:

  • Compare: provide a description/explanation of similarities and/or differences
  • Define: provide a specific meaning of a word or concept
  • Describe: provide the relevant characteristics of a specified topic
  • Develop an argument: articulate a claim and support it with evidence
  • Draw a conclusion: use available information to formulate an accurate statement that demonstrates understanding based on evidence
  • Explain: provide info about how/why a relationship, process, pattern, position, situation, or outcome occurs using evidence or reasoning.
  • Identify: Indicate or provide information about a specified topic, without elaboration or explanation.

Interpreting AP U.S. Government & Politics Scores

AP scores on the are reported from 1 to 5. Colleges are generally looking for a 4 or 5 on the AP U.S. Gov & Politics exam, but some may grant credit for a 3. Here’s how students scored on the AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam in May 2022: 



Percentage of Test Takers


Extremely qualified



Well qualified






Possibly qualified



No recommendation


Source: College Board

How can I prepare?

AP classes are great, but for many students they’re not enough! For a thorough review of AP U.S. Government & Politics content and strategy, pick the AP prep option that works best for your goals and learning style.

Read More