Course and Exam Description
The key document for each AP course is the course and exam description. Start by reviewing it to understand the objectives and expectations of the course and exam.
Curricular and Resource Requirements
Your course must fulfill these requirements.
AP U.S. Government and Politics curricular requirements:
- The teacher and students have access to a college-level U.S. government and politics textbook and news media sources from multiple perspectives.
- The course includes the required foundational documents and Supreme Court cases as described in the course and exam description.
- The course is structured to incorporate the big ideas and required content outlined in each of the units described in the course and exam description.
- The course provides opportunities for students to develop the following skills:
- Skill Category 1: Concept Application
- Skill Category 2: SCOTUS Application
- Skill Category 3: Data Analysis
- Skill Category 4: Source Analysis
- Skill Category 5: Argumentation
- Students are provided with an opportunity to engage in a political science research or applied civics project tied to the course and exam description that culminates in a presentation of findings.
AP U.S. Government and Politics resource requirements:
- The school ensures that each student has a college-level U.S. government and politics textbook as well as access to the required foundational documents and Supreme Court cases (in print or electronic format) for individual use inside and outside of the classroom. The textbook is supplemented when necessary to meet the curricular requirements.
- The school ensures that the teacher has a copy of a recent edition of a U.S. government and politics college-level textbook or other appropriate materials to support instruction.
- The school ensures that each student has access to a variety of news sources in order to learn current examples and applications that may not be in the textbook.
- The school ensures that supplementary materials used by the teacher preserve the non-partisan nature of the course and collectively maintain a political balance in the perspective they require their students to study.
Example Textbook List
The list below represents examples of textbooks that meet the resource requirements of AP U.S. Government and Politics The list is not exhaustive and the texts listed should not be regarded as endorsed, authorized, recommended, or approved by College Board. Not using a book from this list does not mean that a course will not receive authorization. Syllabi submitted as part of the AP Course Audit process will be evaluated holistically, with textbooks considered along with supplementary resources to confirm that the course as a whole provides students with the content delineated in the curricular requirements of the AP Course Audit.
The current editions of the following textbooks meet the AP Course Audit resource requirements. Earlier editions of these texts or other textbooks not listed here may meet the AP Course Audit resource requirements if supplemented with appropriate college-level instructional resources. While every effort is made to keep this list current, it can take a few months for newly published titles and revised editions to be reviewed.
For discussions regarding the usefulness of these texts and other teaching materials in the AP U.S. Government and Politics classroom, please consult the AP U.S. Government and Politics Teacher Community.
- Abernathy, Scott and Karen Waples. American Government: Stories of a Nation. 1st edition. New York: Worth Publishers/BFW, 2019.
- Barbour, Christine and Gerald Wright. Keeping the Republic: Power and Citizenship in American Politics. 9th edition. CQ Press, 2019.
- Bianco, William T., and David Canon. American Politics Today. 6th edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2018.
- Edwards, George C., Robert L. Lineberry, and Martin P. Wattenberg. Government in America: People, Politics, and Policy. 17th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2019.
- Bianco, William, David Canon, Kimberly Owens, James Wehrli, and Julie Strong. American Politics and Government Today. 1st AP edition. New York: W. W. Norton, 2022.
- Evans, Jocelyn and Kristy Michaud. Central Ideas in American Government (online text). 10th edition. Asheville, NC: Soomo Learning, 2019.
- Fiorina, Morris P., Paul E. Peterson, Bertram Johnson, and William G. Mayer. The New American Democracy. 7th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2011.
- Ginsberg, Benjamin, Theodore J. Lowi, Margaret Weir, Caroline J. Tolbert, and Andrea L. Campbell. We the People: An Introduction to American Politics. 12th edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2018.
- Harrison, Brigid Callahan, Jean Wahl Harris, and Michelle D. Deardorff. American Democracy Now. 6th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill, 2019.
- Janda, Kenneth, Jeffrey M. Berry, Jerry Goldman, Deborah Schildkraut, and Paul Manna. The Challenge of Democracy. 14th edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2019.
- Jillson, Carl. American Government: Political Development and Institutional Change. 10th edition. New York, NY: Routledge, 2019.
- Kernell, Samuel, Gary Jacobson, Thad Kousser, and Lynn Vavreck. The Logic of American Politics. 9th edition. Washington, DC: CQ Press, an imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc., 2019.
- Kesselman, Mark, Alan Draper, and Ira Katznelson. The Politics of Power: A Critical Introduction to American Government. 7th edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2013.
- Kollman, Ken. The American Political System. 3rd edition. New York, NY, W.W. Norton, 2019.
- Krutz, Glen, Sylvie Waskiewicz, and OpenStax. American Government 2e (online text). 2nd edition. Houston, TX: OpenStax, Rice University, 2019.
- Lowi, Theodore J, Benjamin Ginsberg, Kenneth A. Shepsle, and Stephen Ansolabehere. American Government: Power and Purpose. 15th edition. New York, NY: W.W. Norton, 2018.
- Miroff, Bruce, Raymond Seidelman, Todd Swanstrom, and Tom De Luca. The Democratic Debate: American Politics in an Age of Change. 6th edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2014.
- O’Connor, Karen and Larry J. Sabato. American Government: Roots and Reform. 13th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2018.
- Patterson, Thomas. We the People: An Introduction to American Politics. 13th edition. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education, 2018.
- Schmidt, Steffen W., Mack C. Shelley, Barbara A. Bardes, and Lynne E. Ford. American Government and Politics Today. 19th edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2018.
- Schubert, Louis, Thomas R. Dye, and Harmon Zeigler. The Irony of Democracy: An Uncommon Introduction to American Politics. 17th edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2015.
- Shea, Daniel M., Joanne Connor Green, and Christopher E. Smith. Living Democracy. 5th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2019.
- Volkomer, Walter. American Government. 14th edition. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2013.
- Wilson, James Q., John J. DiIulio Jr., Meena Bose, Matthew S. Levendusky. American Government: Institutions and Policies. 16th edition. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning, 2018.
These annotated sample United States Government and Politics syllabi show how the curricular requirements can be demonstrated in a syllabus and what level of detail you’ll need to include.
Guide to Developing Your Course Document
Review this document for help creating your syllabus.
This resource includes the guidelines reviewers use to evaluate syllabi along with three samples of evidence for each requirement. This guide also specifies the level of detail required in the syllabus to receive course authorization.