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AP Comparative Government Self-Study and Homeschool

4 min readโ€ขnovember 18, 2020

Aly Moosa

Fatima Raja


Self-studying may seem like something only superheroes or Katherine Johnson could do, but tons of people do it every year. It means you can do it, too!
Here are some tips to help you along the way:

Make a studying schedule ๐Ÿ—“ and stick to it!

If you only take one thing away from this post, let it be this: you need a schedule. Especially if you're not going to be in class every day and following a schedule your teacher made, you're going to need some sort of structure. This will help you space out your learning and not get overwhelmed with all of the other classes you're taking.
It's okay if life gets in the way and you can't stick to the schedule exactly. Having some sort of studying plan in the first place will allow you to alter it as you see fit.
Trust us, when the school year gets into full swing, you'll be glad you have a game plan.
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What we don't want to happen if you're self-studying. Image credit of Memedriod.

Make charts and graphic organizers ๐Ÿ“Š

CompGov can be challenging because there's so much content to remember about six different political systems. Having a chart with a few different categories (like political system, civil society, etc.) can be helpful.
Throughout the year, you can add new info you learn to the chart, and break it out to review come review season.

Don't waste time on content you already know

If you live in Mexico ๐Ÿ‡ฒ๐Ÿ‡ฝ and are very familiar with the political system in your country, then you don't really need to keep reading the stuff you already know. That time could be better utilized in reading up about Nigeria's civil society.
Of course, you may have blind spots, so it's a good idea to see what content is important to the exam, just in case it's not something you know about. In general, though, you'll be more motivated to learn CompGov content if it's new and interesting, rather than redundant.

Watch the news ๐Ÿ“ฐ

Obviously, we're a big advocate for keeping up with current events (see: shameless plug ๐Ÿ‘€), but it's actually really helpful when it comes to CompGov! There's a bunch of ways you can do this, like listening to podcasts or subscribing to this student-run newsletter.
Hearing about protests in Hong Kong or elections in Nigeria will help you situate the concepts you're learning on your own in the real world. Those concepts that seem so unreal will start making much more sense to you.
Plus, there's the added bonus of being able to use the stuff you learn on the actual exam.

Resources:

Know your vocab

Words. Sometimes it's just so hard to get them to work, but they're actually really important. Shocker, I know.
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Actually me at some points while writing this post. Image from the Office Quotes.

When it comes to CompGov, knowing the vocab is pretty critical. If you don't know what "legitimacy" or a "supranational organization" is when you're looking at an FRQ on the AP exam, you might get stressed (and AP exams already aren't a lot of fun ๐Ÿธโ˜•๏ธ ). Luckily for you, there's an easy way to avoid that.
Just break out this list of great Quizlets by unit that we compiled and get a-studying!

Use different kinds of avenues of information

Everyone's always talking about how great the Internet is. I mean, all of the information you could ask for is just a hop, skip, and click away. It's even better when it comes to self-studying for an AP exam. You can watch YouTube videos, read blog posts, study Quizlets, or ask questions on forums.
There's also some great print resources that you can look to, like prep books or newspapers (because we support local journalism here at Fiveable ๐Ÿ˜ค). Diversifying the places you go to learn all about CompGov will not only keep you from getting bored, it'll also help you make sure you've got all your bases โšพ๏ธ covered.

Practice!

You want to be familiar with what the CompGov test actually looks like, so this one should be something you really prioritize.
Whether it's doing a couple practice FRQs every few weeks or doing the multiple choice questions at the end of your prep book's chapter, having a good sense of what the test is going to be like is important
So, here are some past FRQs that will be great practice for the real thing!

Figure out your weaknesses . . . and tackle them

This is a bit related to the practice tip, but it still needs to be said. If you only miss one or two questions on a 60-question practice test but get one point out of 10 on an FRQ, then you know what you need to focus on.
It may feel good to just keep getting lots of multiple-choice questions right, but it won't exactly help you score really high on the actual exam. And trust me, I know how hard it is to do poorly at something and then have to keep doing it. Buut, it's also the only way to improve.
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Choose your AP exam fighter. Image credit of Pixabay.

Closing Thoughts

Whether you've self-studied for a different class or this is your first time taking on the challenge, these tips are tried and true. They should help you structure your learning and keep you accountable. That said, keep in mind you don't have to do every single thing on this list to be successful on the CompGov exam. You can pick and choose what works for you! Good luck!

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Unit 1: Political Systems, Regimes, and Governments
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Unit 2: Political Institutions
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Unit 3: Political Culture and Participation
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Unit 4: Party and Electoral Systems and Citizen Organizations