The exam is 3 hours long and has two sections — multiple choice and free-response.

The exam measures your understanding of required content. You’ll need to define, compare, explain, and interpret political concepts, policies, processes, perspectives, and behaviors that characterize the U.S. political system.

Section I: Multiple Choice | 55 Questions | 1 Hour and 20 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

This section requires:

  • Quantitative Analysis: Analysis and application of quantitative-based source material
  • Qualitative Analysis: Analysis and application of text-based (primary and secondary) sources
  • Visual Analysis: Analysis and application of qualitative visual information
  • Concept Application: Explanation of the application of political concepts in context
  • Comparison: Explanation of the similarities and differences of political concepts
  • Knowledge: Identification and definition of political principles, institutions, processes, policies, and behaviors

Section II: Free-Response | 4 Questions | 1 Hour and 40 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

In this section:

  • Concept Application: You’ll respond to a political scenario, explaining how it relates to a political principle, institution, process, policy, or behavior
  • Quantitative Analysis: You’ll analyze quantitative data, identify a trend or pattern, draw a conclusion for the visual representation, and explain how it relates to a political principle, institution, process, policy, or behavior
  • SCOTUS Comparison: You’ll compare a nonrequired Supreme Court case with a required Supreme Court case, explaining how information from the required case is relevant to that in the nonrequired one
  • Argument Essay: You’ll develop an argument in the form of an essay, using evidence from one or more required foundational documents

Here are some common task verbs you might see in the Free-Response Questions:

  • Identify: provide a specific answer, which does not require causal explanation
  • Define: provide a specific meaning for a word or concept
  • Describe: provide the essential details or characteristics of a particular concept or political phenomenon
  • Explain: demonstrate understanding of how or why a relationship exists by clearly articulating the logical connection or causal pattern between or among various political phenomena
  • Compare: provide an explicit statement which connects two or more concepts

Links to More AP Pages