AP US Government & Politics

AP US Government & Politics


Unit 1
Unit 2
Unit 3
Unit 4
Unit 5


Current Events

Review Materials

The Exam

Exam Components

Types of Free Response Questions

Here is a presentation with examples and rubrics for each of the essay types.

College Board Exam Tips has not only a listing of good general advice for preparing, but also a list of task verbs that you'll need to be familiar with to respond to the FRQs.

From the Course and Exam Description:

  1. Concept Application: Respond to a political scenario, explaining how it relates to a political principle, institution, process, policy, or behavior
    1. Content Application FRQ
    2. It looks like you'll be given a current event, or maybe a not so current event, and you'll be asked how the government could be involved/take action/have power or responsibility, etc. The goal is to determine your knowledge of US Government in terms of how it could be applied to real-world situations. See the released questions linked below.
  2. Quantitative Analysis: Analyze quantitative data, identify a trend or pattern, draw a conclusion from the visual representation, and explain how the data relates to a political principle, institution, process, policy, or behavior
    1. Quantitative Analysis FRQ
    2. For practice, go to PewResearch.org and find something relating to government, or go directly to their US Politics section at People-Press.org. Read the charts, and then read the explanations, and see if you come to the same conclusions.
  3. SCOTUS Comparison: 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.
    1. SCOTUS Comparison FRQ Video
    2. It appears that the non-required case, as demonstrated in the practice exam at the end of the CED, will be explained in a paragraph to help you compare it to the 15 required cases.
  4. Argument Essay: Develop an argument in the form of an essay, using evidence from one or more required foundational documents
    1. Argumentation Essay Video
    2. If you're not entirely sure or need a refresher, here's a guide to writing a thesis from the History Handbook. The structure of the thesis applies to this exam as well.

Read Released FRQ Questions and Scoring Notes >>

Further FRQ details from the CED:

All five big ideas as well as the required content presented in all five units of instruction are subject to being assessed in Section II as a whole. At least one free-response question will assess one or more learning objectives that pertain to public policy. All four free-response questions are weighted equally; however it is recommended that students spend 20 minutes of exam time on each of the first three questions, and 40 minutes on the argumentative essay.

In the argumentative essay question, students are given a prompt that can have more than one possible response. They will be asked to write a defensible claim or thesis that responds to the question and establishes a line of reasoning (the response cannot earn a point for simply restating the prompt).

They must then cite and describe one piece of evidence from a list of foundational documents. To earn additional points students must identify a second piece of specific and relevant evidence, making sure they explain how or why both pieces support the claim or thesis. To complete their essay students must identify an opposing or alternative perspective, demonstrate a correct understanding of it, and refute, concede, or rebut that perspective

Scoring FRQs/Argumentative Essay

This is, of course, also from the CED. You should really download it and read it.


The image in the background of the Unit 4 tile is a photograph of this article on Pew Research.

The photograph in the background of the Unit 5 tile is this image courtesy of Lars Plougmann from London, United Kingdom.