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Important Updates

2021 Exam Information

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

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 Exam will be full length, containing the typical multiple-choice and free-response sections and covering the full scope of course content, giving students 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.

AP Daily and AP Classroom
Short, searchable AP Daily videos can be assigned alongside topic questions to help you cover all course content, skills, and task models, and check student understanding. Unlock personal progress checks so students can demonstrate their knowledge and skills unit by unit and use the progress dashboard to highlight progress and additional areas for support. As the exam approaches, assign AP practice exams in the AP Classroom question bank and encourage students to take advantage of AP Daily: Live Review sessions April 19–29.

Sign In to AP Classroom

Exam Overview

Exam questions assess the course concepts and skills outlined in the course framework. For more information, download the AP U.S. Government and Politics Course and Exam Description (CED).

Encourage your students to visit the AP U.S. Government and Politics student page for exam information.

Digital Practice and Testing Information

Updated April 8

Digital Practice Now Available

Starting April 8, students 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 all students take the Digital Practice, and strongly advise that if they can’t take the Digital Practice, they at least take the App Demo. Both can be taken multiple times, and can be accessed directly in the digital testing application. Students can access their 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 student answers from Digital Practice. Teachers can also access digital practice from the teacher dashboard, available beginning April 22.

Taking the Digital Exam

Students should be aware of some aspects of testing digitally that they’ll encounter—in the Digital Practice and on exam day:

  • As a reminder:
    • Students 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 students cannot handwrite or otherwise upload responses.
    • Students cannot go back to questions they’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. Students will 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 students should read the directions, they should be aware that the timer will be running while they do so. Teachers and students can view the full text of the exam and section directions in advance of the exam.

More information about taking digital exams is available in the Digital Testing Guide.

Digital Exam Readiness Dashboard 

Beginning April 22, AP teachers and AP coordinators will have access to a new digital exam readiness dashboard. Teachers and coordinators will access the dashboard from their personalized AP login page (after signing in through AP Central or through myap.collegeboard.org). The dashboard can be used to monitor students’ progress in taking the steps necessary before and on exam day to enable them to take a digital exam. See details in the “Preparing for Digital AP Exams” section of the AP Digital Testing Guide. 

Exam Dates

  • Event
    • MON, MAY 3, 2021, 8 AM LOCAL

    AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam—Administration 1

    Paper, In School
    •  
  • Event
    • Thu, May 20, 2021, 12 PM EDT

    AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam—Administration 2

    Digital, In School and At Home
    •  
  • Event
    • THU, JUN 3, 2021, 12 PM EDT

    AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam—Administration 3

    Digital, In School and At Home
    •  

Exam Format

The AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam has consistent question types, weighting, and scoring guidelines every year, so you and your students know what to expect on exam day.

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 cover 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.

Section I: Multiple Choice

55 Questions | 1 Hour 20 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Individual questions (no stimulus): ~30
  • Set-based questions
    • 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

Section II: Free Response

4 Questions | 1 Hour 40 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Concept Application: Respond to a political scenario, describe and explain the effects of a political institution, behavior, or process
  • Quantitative Analysis: Analyze quantitative data, identify a trend or pattern, or draw a conclusion from a visual representation and explain how it relates to a political principle, institution, process, policy, or behavior
  • SCOTUS Comparison: Compare a nonrequired Supreme Court case with a required Supreme Court case, explaining how information from the required case is relevant to the nonrequired one

    The first task of the SCOTUS Comparison question (FRQ 3) 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 the student is asked to identify how that required case is related to the case given in the scenario.
    • On the digital exam, the student will be asked to choose 1 required SCOTUS case from a provided list, and describe how the required case they choose is related to the case given in the scenario.

      This change is included in the example FRQ 3 in Digital Practice.
       
  • Argument Essay: Develop an argument in the form of an essay, using evidence from required foundational documents and course concepts

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

2020 (Last Year’s) Free-Response Questions

Last year’s free-response questions are available in the AP Classroom question bank for teachers to assign to students as homework or in class, and do not require secure assessment using the LockDown Browser. Since the 2020 exams had to be designed for highly unusual circumstances, these questions were updated, where possible, to best match the format of free-response questions in the course and exam description and on traditional AP Exams.

Sign in to AP Classroom to access resources including personal progress checks and a question bank with topic questions and practice exams aligned to the current course and exam.

To preserve the large number of new FRQs for teacher use, only teachers have access to the 2020 FRQs. If you are a higher education faculty member interested in seeing questions, please fill out this request form.

2019 Free-Response Questions

For free-response questions (FRQs) from the 2019 exam, along with scoring information, check out the table below.

Be sure to review the Chief Reader Report. In this invaluable resource, the chief reader of the AP Exam compiles feedback from members of the AP Reading leadership to explain how students performed on the FRQs, summarize typical student errors, and address specific concepts and content with which students have struggled the most that year.