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AP UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT AND POLITICS The Exam

Important Updates

New resources for the 2018-19 course and exam, including the course and exam description (CED), are now available.​

  • Thu, May 10, 2018

AP United States Government and Politics Exam Day 2018

  • 8 a.m. | 2 hrs 25 mins

Exam Overview

The AP United States Government and Politics Exam asks students to explain and apply key and supporting concepts outlined in the course description. The exam measures students’ understanding of American political culture and the interactions of governing and linkage institutions. Questions are based on the six major topics in the course, and students must be able to define, compare, explain, and interpret political concepts, policies, processes, perspectives, and behaviors that characterize the U.S. political system.

Encourage your students to visit the AP United States Government and Politics student page for exam information and exam practice.

Exam Format

Multiple Choice — 60 Questions | 45 minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Demonstrate understanding of major course concepts, policies, and institutions
  • Apply skills of comparison and interpretation in addition to factual recall

Section II

Free Response — 4 Questions | 1 Hour, 40 Minutes | 50% of Exam Score

  • Define concepts and explain or interpret content across all course topics
  • Analyze political relationships and evaluate policy changes using examples from the course to support the argument or response

Exam Questions and Scoring Information

For free-response questions from prior exams, along with scoring information, check out the tables 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 reading leadership to describe 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.

2017: Free-Response Questions

2016: Free-Response Questions

2015: Free-Response Questions

2014: Free-Response Questions

2013: Free-Response Questions

2012: Free-Response Questions

2011: Free-Response Questions

2010: Free-Response Questions

2009: Free-Response Questions

2008: Free-Response Questions

2007: Free-Response Questions

2006: Free-Response Questions

2005: Free-Response Questions

2004: Free-Response Questions

2003: Free-Response Questions

2002: Free-Response Questions

2001: Free-Response Questions

2000: Free-Response Questions

1999: Free-Response Questions

Exam Resources

AP United States Government and Politics Course Description—Effective Fall 2018

This is the core document for this course. It clearly lays out the course content and describes the exam and the AP Program in general.

Secure Practice Exams

1999 Released Exam

The 1999 Released Exam is a resource you can use with your students throughout the year. Note: Some information in this Released Exam may not reflect the current course and exam.

Government Essays

An essay on government is one of the popular topics in many schools and colleges. These government essays make youngsters active participants in the democratic framework of the country, aware of their government and its policies. A government essay can make them scrutinize and think on their feet and grow into citizens with civic responsibility. Government essay topics are many and when picking one it is important to be very specific. It is a good idea to compare and contrast the government essay topics as it will clearly present ideas and elaborate sufficiently. There are no restrictions on expressing personal opinions in a government essay but they must be sound judgments made after thoroughly understanding the machinery of the government.

American Government Essay Topics

American government essay topics must touch on specifics about the constitution, political ideologies, civil rights, public policy, political parties and institutions of the American government. Once you decide on a government essay topic, your government essay should convey a thorough understanding of the topic and objective findings and opinions on the same. You need to show in your government essay that the government is an integral part of our life and how it affects the various activities and addresses various concerns in our life. You can write the government essay paper in a patriotic spirit and while you may express difference in opinion as to certain policies but open criticism and berating the government would not be encouraged. Your sentiments in the government essay must not be personal anti-American propaganda.

AP Government Essay Questions

If you still have trouble expressing and elaborating on the US government and its many stances, you can easily have a custom essay on government written through online essay writing services. These government essays are written by professional academicians and will be delivered to you at a very low price. You can be assured of good reviews for this government essay as it will be quality work free of errors, written by experts who will write simple government essay with precise information which is easy to understand and elaborate. You can also read up on the government essay topic to have a sound base and argument in case you have to defend your stance. Related readings: global warming essay writing, help with writing georgaphy essays and ethic essay writing assistance.

A government essay requires thorough research and ideas in a logical and plausible manner before writing the actual government essay. It keeps the perspectives fresh and also allows for a good analysis of the critical concepts detailed in the government essay. You can shine over the others with your well written government essay and having done the research be able to defend all that is detailed in the government essay with a confident smile.

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Help Me Find Persuasive American Government Essay Topics

What is a persuasive essay?

The persuasive essay is where a writer takes a position on a particular topic (pro or con). The writer then tries to convince the reader to agree with their position on the topic. Persuasive essay writing uses reasoning and logic to prove that one point of view or idea is better than another one. The persuasive essay will encourage the reader to take a particular stand on the topic or a call to action on the topic. The argument in the persuasive essay must be sound in reasoning and provide strong evidence to support the writer’s position on the topic. This is done by providing reasons that are logical, gives good examples, has quotes from experts, and states good facts. A persuasive essay is also known as an argumentative essay.

What are some good topics for the persuasive essay regarding American government?

The persuasive essay can be done on any topic, but the best topic for the persuasive essay would be one regarding American government. The topic geared towards American government would be a good topic for the persuasive essay because of all the debated issues occurring now in government.

Here are some good topics on American government for the persuasive essay:

  • Should the Obamacare health care plan be repealed?
  • How can President Obama get the Republican Party to assist him in passing legislation?
  • Should USA end the war in Iraq?
  • Should the House of Representatives members have limited terms like Congress members?
  • How to stop police brutality in the inner cities?
  • Should the federal government legalize marijuana use for medicine only?

How to choose the best topic on American government for the persuasive essay:

When choosing a topic for the persuasive essay, one should remember that as the writer you are trying to persuade the reader to agree with one’s position on the topic. The writer should choose a topic that can be presented in a good debate competition. The topic chosen for one’s persuasive essay should be a current issue that is relevant to society as a whole.

Here are a few pointers to consider when choosing a topic on American government for the persuasive essay:

  • A good topic on American government would be one that has historical significance.
  • A good topic on American government would be one that deals with a current war that the USA is involved in.
  • A good topic on American government would be one that deals with current policies or current legislation.
  • A good topic on American government would be one that deals with an issue or a problem that effects a large portion of the US population.

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us government

I see the U.S. Government under Bush’s leadership to be a form of a totalitarian government because he is taking absolute control over what we say and what we can and cannot do. Bush is taking away our right to a fair trial if we are thought to be terrorists.

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I see the U.S. Government under Bush’s leadership to be a form of a totalitarian government because he is taking absolute control over what we say and what we can and cannot do. Bush is taking away our right to a fair trial if we are thought to be terrorists.

Showed next 250 characters

The main problem with this issue is that people are not getting what they deserve because the government decides for them. An example of a totalitarian country would be China.

I see the U.S. Government under Bush’s leadership to be a form of a totalitarian government because he is taking absolute control over what we say and what we can and cannot do.

The term authoritarianism is used to describe a government which implements strong and sometimes domineering measures against the population without the consent of the population.

When thinking of a totalitarian government a good example that comes to mind would be North Korea. They have a dictator that rules every aspect of the citizens lives.

"Should the government control access to information on the internet?" Who would receive my vote? Why? Should the government control access to information on the internet? No, I believe if government controlled what was on the internet it would be like the Nazi control all over again, where the people are not free and cannot express themselves.

Part of the Politics seriesList of forms of government Anarchy Aristocracy Authoritarianism Autocracy Communist state Corporatocracy Democracy Direct democracy Representative democracy Despotism Dictatorship Military dictatorship Feudalism Kleptocracy Kritocracy Meritocracy Minarchism Monarchy Absolute monarchy Constitutional monarchy Night watchman state Noocracy Ochlocracy Oligarchy Omniarchy Plutocracy Republic Mixed government Constitutional republic Parliamentary republic Socialist republic Capitalist republic Socialism Stratocracy Technocracy Theocracy Theodemocracy Timocracy Totalitarianism Tribe Chiefdom Politics Portal This box: view • talk • editA dictatorship is an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by a dictator.

The internet is a packet switched network, consisting of many different networks connecting together. The name ‘internet’ actually means ‘inter-network’ and refers to the connections between the networks.

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American Government Essay Topics

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Writing about American Government

Whether you are teaching American history or civics, helping your students make sense of the structure and function of American government is a big part of your job. Understanding American government means knowing the difference between and relationship among state, federal, and local leadership structure, grasping the concept of checks and balances, and considering the ways the specific circumstances of the nation’s founders play out in how the government works today.

By having your students write essays about American government, you are giving them a chance to express their own views and find evidence from primary and secondary sources to support a variety of perspectives. The essay topics in this lesson focus your students’ attention on diverse nuances and truths regarding American government.

Essay Topics about the Structure of Government

No one has ever called the structure of American government simple! In fact, many adults are still developing an understanding of how the government is comprised and who plays what role. By addressing the topics in this section, your students will gain a leg up in comprehending how the government is structured.

  • Explain the role of the Constitution in determining the structure of the American federal government. How defining is the Constitution? What key factors does it label in terms of how the government is structured, and what are the historical reasons in forming these tenets?
  • Describe the concept of checks and balances in the American federal government. In your essay, explain the role of each branch of the federal government in checking and balancing the other branches. Weigh in with your own opinion on the nature and ideal of this system overall.
  • What are some of the powers of the executive branch of government, and what are some of its limitations? What, if anything, surprises you about the limitations placed on the executive branch? Speculate as to the founders’ reasoning in establishing these limitations, and discuss their benefits as well as their potential pitfalls.
  • Do some research into the constitutions of two different states. Write an essay comparing and contrasting the ways that the two states’ constitutions establish the structure of the two state governments. Discuss your perspective on the similarities and differences in governmental structure between these two states.
  • If you had to define three major core values of American democracy that can be seen by analyzing the structure of our government, what would these values be? Use evidence from documents, history, or current events to show how these values play out in terms of governmental structure.
  • Write a persuasive essay arguing for or against the maintenance of the electoral college as the appropriate system for electing the president of the United States. In your essay, consider the history of this structural component of our government and what it would mean to dismantle it.

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Essay Topics about the Function of Government

It is one thing to understand how the government works in theory, but it is another to consider how it has panned out in practice over time. The topics in this section turn your students’ attention to the practical function of American government.

  • Choose one current event that you feel is impacted by the system of checks and balances. Describe this event, and write about how the different branches of government have or have not done their jobs in weighing in on the issue and keeping one another in check.
  • Write an essay describing one major change that has occurred in American government over the course of history. This may be a Constitutional amendment, a financial development, a war, or an industrial development, among other things. Write about what America as a whole learned from the way this real event impacted the function of our government.
  • Who are the people that you believe benefit the most from how American government actually functions in practice? Who are the people that you think lose out or are underrepresented in American government? Use specific evidence to back up any arguments you make along these lines.
  • Describe a law or bill that has been passed over the course of your lifetime, either on a federal, state or municipal level. Make sure readers of your essay understand the entire process behind the passing of this law as well as how it impacts your life or that of your family or community.

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Write My Academic Essay

Use Chapter 4 and 5 in “American Government and Politics Today by Barbara A. Bardes” and Chapter 10 in “Texas Politics by Charldean Newell” as sources.

1. The American Civil Liberties Union is the nation’s leading civil liberties organization. Visit the ACLU’s website at www.aclu.org.

a. Look around a bit, then scroll down to the bottom of the page to look at their general subject areas (“Capital Punishment”, “Free Speech”, Voting Rights”, etc.). Click on a specific topic of interest (“Marijuana Law Reform”, “Internet Censorship”, etc.) and look around. Make sure to investigate at least two of the links on that page (“Additional Resources”, “Most Popular”, “Related Issues”, etc. ). In a paragraph, summarize what you find. What, exactly, is the issue? What is the position of the ACLU? What does (or would) the other side say? Describe at least two relevant court cases or specific examples mentioned. What did you learn that was interesting or surprising?

Note: If you are having a hard time coming up with the other side, try Conservapedia (www.conservapedia.com), Judicial Watch www.judicialwatch.org, or The Future of Freedom Foundation (http://fff.org). None are explicitly “anti-civil liberties”, but they do provide info and links to the point of view opposite the ACLU.

b. Choose one additional “Issue” and repeat.

c. Lastly, write a paragraph summarizing your reaction to this assignment.

Notes: Please identify the topic at the top of each paragraph. Make sure to put into your own words–don’t just cut and paste from the website. Remember, this is not about your position on the issue and why you feel that way, but rather the position of the ACLU and the other side, and what their rationale is.

2. Due process means that laws must be applied fairly and equally to all people, especially to a citizen accused of a crime. The Constitution uses the phrase in the 5th and 14th Amendments, declaring that the government shall not deprive anyone of “life, liberty, or property, without due process of law…” The 5th Amendment protects people from actions of the federal government, and the 14th protects them from actions by state and local governments.

The due process amendments (amendments 4, 5,6 and 8) have been fairly controversial among the American public – simply because they protect those citizens who have been accused of a crime.

Why are these due process protections so controversial? These amendments are so controversial because we KNOW that citizens who are guilty of a crime do “get off” on technicalities. (For example, evidence of a crime is found but thrown out of court because there were problems with the warrant.) For this reason, most of us – who are law abiding citizens – do not see the protections as necessary. After all, if we are not accused of a crime then we will not need the protection afforded by the due process amendments. When criminals we believe to be guilty have been released due to a technicality, citizens tend to ignore the protections from government provided to ALL citizens (even if you are never accused of a crime) through the due process amendments. In short – despite their unpopularity, the due process amendments DO protect ALL of us from the potential of an abusive government.

The role of due process amendments is evident in the following video (1:24).

After being interrogated relentlessly for many hours, four US Navy sailors separately confessed to committing a violent rape and murder despite the lack of any evidence linking them to the crim. Based on their confessions, and despite there being no DNA match at the crime scene, each of the men was sent to prison for the crimes.

Watch the video clip. Think about why an innocent person might confess to a crime. Also think about — are all types of evidence equally valid when used to build criminal cases? Finally, think about what role do our due process protections have in the case you are watching?

Using evidence from the film AND information from your textbook. Answer the following questions:

a. When interrogating suspected criminals, police are allowed to make accusations, lie about or make up evidence, yell at suspects or get in their faces. In the case shown in the video, the police told one of the men that he had failed a polygraph (lie detector) test, even though he had passed it. Why do you think it is legal for police to lie when questioning a potential criminal? Do you think that it is right? What do you think police should and should not be allowed to do during an interrogation?

b. Before being questioned by police, suspects must be told their Miranda rights, which give them the right to remain silent and to speak to an attorney. Why might these men have waived their rights? In what ways might their innocence have affected their perception of the importance of remaining silent or having a lawyer present? How might their story have been different if they had insisted on exercising these rights?

c. In this case, DNA tests of hair and bodily fluids did not indicated that any of the four men were at the crime scene. Why didn’t the DNA test results help clear these men of the crime? What type of evidence was used to convict them of the crime? Should the strength of the various types of evidence be considered in a court? Should we make changes to our due process rights that account for new types of scientific inquiry and our ability to use forensic evidence?

d. Eventually these men were found or pleaded guilty of the crime in court, even though there was no evidence linking them to the crime, and a positive DNA match identified another man who had confessed to the crime. How could this happen in the American justice system? In what ways were the following parties responsible for the outcome:

• The four men themselves

• The jury (in the case of a court trial)

3. THE PATRIOT ACT: As the U.S. government tries to fight terror through increasing the means of surveillance, critics raise issues of individual liberty, including the right to privacy and the right to avoid unwarranted searches and seizures. Of particular interest and heated debate has been the provision in the Act that would allow the government to access patron records at public and private libraries without warrants. Or, the government’s access to our private phone calls, internet searches, etc… Think about whether the Patriot Act is necessary to the nation’s security, or an invasion of civil liberties.

a. First, investigate the history and elements of the USA Patriot Act. You may use a combination of your textbook and the websites below to help you find the answers.

• What does the acronym “U.S.A. Patriot Act” stand for?

• Explain the purpose of the Patriot Act.

• Identify the major provisions of the Patriot Act.

• Discuss some of the controversial uses of the Act.

• What Section of the Act has been severely criticized by the American Library Association and other interested parties? On what basis have they criticized it?

b. Now, read the article, “The Patriot Act: What is the Proper Balance between National Security and Individual Rights” at the following website.http://www.crf-usa.org/bill-of-rights-in-action/bria-19-4-a-the-patriot-act-what-is-the-proper-balance-between-national-security-and-individual-rig

• How does the Patriot Act define “domestic terrorism”? Do you think participants in public protests could ever be accused of “domestic terrorism” under this definition? Why or why not?

• The Justice Department has proposed that the government should be able to ask a court to revoke the citizenship of any American who provides “material support” to terrorists. Do you support the proposal? Why or why not?

• Below are two famous quotations. What do they mean? Which, if any, do you agree with? Explain.

Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.—Benjamin Franklin (1706 – 1790)

There is danger that, if the [Supreme Court] does not temper its doctrinaire logic with a little practical wisdom, it will convert the constitutional Bill of Rights into a suicide pact.—Justice Robert H. Jackson dissenting in Terminiello v. City of Chicago (1949)

c. Finally, look through the websites listed below.

• Discuss three “pro” and three “con” views of the Patriot Act. Be sure to include in your discussion some reference to national security and individual liberty (as guaranteed in the Bill of Rights).

• Do you believe that the Patriot Act goes too far on the side of “security” and, in fact, serves to threaten “individual liberty”? Why, or why not?

Supportive Views (Pro)

• The Patriot Act and Related Provisions: The Heritage Foundation’s Research

• In Defense of the Patriot Act by Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

• Patriot Act 101 by Jon Thibault, FrontPage Magazine

• The Patriot Act, Reauthorized, JURIST

Critical Views (Con)

• PATRIOT Games: Terrorism Law and Executive Power, JURIST

• American Library Association’s Resolution on the PATRIOT Act

• Jennifer Van Bergen, Repeal the Patriot ActA six-part series analysing the Act.

4. The Voting Rights Act (VRA) bans racial discrimination in voting practices by the federal government as well as by state and local governments.

Passed in 1965 after a century of deliberate and violent denial of the vote to African-Americans in the South and Latinos in the Southwest – as well as many years of entrenched electoral systems that shut out citizens with limited fluency in English – the VRA is often held up as the most effective civil rights law ever enacted. It is widely regarded as enabling the enfranchisement of millions of minority voters and diversifying the electorate and legislative bodies at all levels of American government.

Congress has reauthorized the VRA five times, most recently in 2006, when both the House and the Senate approved the measure overwhelmingly in a bipartisan manner. Congress conducted over 20 hearings, heard from over 50 expert witnesses, and collected over 17,000 pages of testimony documenting the continued need for and constitutionality of the statute.

The 2006 reauthorization renewed several key protections, providing for language assistance, Election Day monitors, and Justice Department pre-approval of voting changes. The protections are currently set to expire in 2031.

Using your textbook and/or the websites below, answer the following questions.

About the Voting Rights Act

• Text of the Voting Rights Act – Ourdocuments.gov

• History of the Voting Rights Act

• Frequently Asked Questions

• Myths & Facts about Section 5 of the VRA

• Myths & Facts about Section 203 of the VRA

• Map of States Subject to Sections 5 and 203

Effects of the Voting Rights Act

• Real Stories of the Impact of the VRA

• Reports on Voting Rights in the States

• Why You Should Care About the VRA

a. Explain how the Voting Rights Act relates to the 15th Amendment.

e. Discuss why the Voting Rights Act was needed? For example, how were blacks disenfranchised?

f. How did the Supreme Court and Congress attempt to lessen disenfranchisement before the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

g. Discuss key provisions contained in the Voting Rights Act. Explain using Section 2, section 5 and other provisions.

Just this year, a case reached the Supreme Court regarding whether the provisions in Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act should still be applied to sta

Read the following articles.

h. Discuss three reasons section 5 should still be applied to state AND three reasons why section 5 is no longer needed. After reviewing your textbook and the information above, explain whether or not you believe Section 5 protections should be continued.

5. The American Civil Rights Movement produced tremendous change in American society and politics. At the crux of the movement, was the battle to end segregation in public schools. In this question, you will need to explore the legal, political, and social implications of racial segregation and desegregation through the study of two Supreme Court decisions: Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education. You may use your textbook and/or any of the links below to help you answer the following questions.

a. Define racial segregation.

b. Define the two types of segregation. Give examples.

c. Discuss Jim Crow laws. Give examples.

d. Explain which form of segregation you think was hardest to overcome and why.

h. Discuss the background to Plessy v. Ferguson (1896). Discuss the majority and minority opinion in Plessy v. Ferguson.

i. Explain three implications of the Plessy v. Ferguson decision.

j. Analyze the “separate but equal” doctrine. How does the court justify legal separation?

k. Discuss the background to Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

l. Discuss the majority and minority opinion in Brown v. Board of Education

m. Explain three implications of the Brown v. Board of Education decision

n. Interpret the quote below. Explain how it differs from the Court’s opinion in Plessy.Justice Henry Brown, writing in the majority opinion in the Plessydecision asserted:

“We consider the underlying fallacy of the plaintiff’s argument to consist in the assumption that the enforced separation of the two races stamps the colored race with a badge of inferiority. If this be so, it is not by reason of anything found in the act, but solely because the colored race chooses to put that construction upon it.”

o. Interpret the quote below. Chief Justice Warren, writing the majority opinion in Brown v. Board, stated:

“Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other “tangible” factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does…We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.”

6. As your textbook indicates, civil liberties and civil rights have a particularly important role in the Texas judicial system. Because Texas uses the death penalty so frequently, the stakes are quite high in Texas court rooms.

Look at the following factsheet. (http://www.deathpenaltyinfo.org/documents/FactSheet.pdf).

a. Using your textbook and the factsheet, discuss the use of the death penalty in Texas.

b. Compare the use of the death penalty in Texas to other states.

PBS Frontline covered the trial, conviction and execution of Cameron Todd Willingham. Given the length of this assignment, you probably do not have time to watch the entire 60 minute documentary (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/death-by-fire/).

Try watching these two brief clips covering the case.

7. Please freely discuss whatever is in the news this week. What caught your attention? Why?

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