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AP Comparative Government Free Response Questions (FRQ)- Past Prompts

5 min readโ€ขoctober 31, 2020

Fatima Raja


Weโ€™ve compiled a sortable list of all the AP Comparative Government past prompts! The AP Comparative Government Free Response Questions are 50% of the exam including short answer questions (SAQ), conceptual analysis questions, country-specific questions, quantitative analysis questions, and the new for 2020: argument essay. Itโ€™s important that you understand the rubrics and question styles going into the exam. Use this list to practice!
By practicing with previously released free response questions (FRQs), youโ€™ll build critical-thinking and analytical skills that will prepare you for the exam. These past prompts have been designed to help you connect concepts and ideas to each other while applying your knowledge to real-life scenarios.
If you need more support with AP CompGov, join us live for reviews, concept explanations, practice FRQs, and more!
Since the AP CompGov exam changed in 2019, there are no released exams with the new argument essay questions. All exams up to 2019 use some of the current free response question types, but not all. The chart includes the last 5 yearsโ€™ worth of questions. Special Note: Question 4 on the 2016 exam was re-scored according to the new rubric for the argument essay and the scoring guides/commentaries for that prompt can be found here.
YearQuestion TypeUnit (Topic)PromptMean Score
Set 1: 2019Short AnswerUnit 2 (power of the British prime minister, parliamentary systems)Describe one power of the British prime minister. Describe one way that the British parliamentary system restrains the power of the prime minister. Explain how parliamentary systems enhance the power of the prime minister in the policy-making process1.52
Set 1: 2019Short AnswerUnit 3 (political socialization)Identify an agent of political socialization. Describe the process of political socialization. Explain how political socialization affects a regimeโ€™s stability1.5
Set 1: 2019Short AnswerUnit 3 (civil society, democracy)Define civil society. Explain one way in which civil society can strengthen democracy. Explain why democracies restrict civil society.95
Set 1: 2019Short AnswerUnit 2 (executive systems, Iran's Supreme Leader)Describe one constitutional responsibility of the supreme leader in Iran. Describe the constitutionally defined relationship between the supreme leader and the Assembly of Experts. Describe the political relationship between the supreme leader and the Revolutionary Guard.1.33
Set 1: 2019Short AnswerUnit 3 (Government criticism, authoritarian states)Explain two reasons why an authoritarian state would allow citizens to criticize the government. Describe a specific policy adopted by Russia, China, or Iran to restrict criticism of the government1.34
Set 1: 2019Conceptual AnalysisUnit 4 (Party Systems)There are different types of party systems around the world. (a) Describe one type of party system. Explain one way that type of party system influences policy making. (b) Describe another type of party system. Explain one way that type of party system influences policy making. (c) Explain how a countryโ€™s party system is influenced by the type of electoral system in the country. (d) Explain how regime change can lead to a change in the type of party system in a country.2.36
Set 1: 2019Country SpecificUnit 1 & Unit 4 (elections in authoritarian states)Elections are held in both democratic and authoritarian regimes. (a) Describe one reason that authoritarian regimes hold elections. (b) Explain how presidential elections since 2000 strengthened or weakened democracy in Russia. (c) Explain how presidential elections since 2000 strengthened or weakened democracy in Mexico. (d) Identify one factor other than elections that strengthens democracy. Explain how that factor contributes to democracy.3.49
Set 1: 2019Country SpecificUnit 3 (age structure)The population pyramids illustrate the age and sex structure of Chinaโ€™s and Nigeriaโ€™s populations. (a) Using the population pyramids, describe one difference in the age structure of China compared to that of Nigeria. (b) Describe one governmental policy that influenced the age structure in China. (c) Describe one economic consequence of the age structure of Nigeria. (d) Describe one economic consequence of the age structure of China. (e) Explain a political consequence of having a disproportionately younger population structure2.83
Set 2: 2019Short AnswerUnit 1 (regime change, government change)Define the concept of regime change. Identify a country studied in the AP Comparative Government and Politics course that has experienced a regime change since 1990. Explain how a change in regime is different from a change in government.1.57
Set 2: 2019Short AnswerUnit 3 (income inequality)Identify one indicator that measures income inequality. Describe one political consequence of income inequality. Describe a policy that governments use to reduce income inequality1.49
Set 2: 2019Short AnswerUnit 5 (sustainable development)Describe the goal of sustainable development. Identify one sector of Nigeriaโ€™s economy in which sustainable development has been a serious challenge. Explain how economic factors influence environmental policy in Nigeria1.61
Set 2: 2019Short AnswerUnit 3 (coercion)Explain one reason why both authoritarian states and democratic states use coercion domestically. Describe two ways that democratic states are constrained in their use of coercion.1.22
Set 2: 2019Short AnswerUnit 2 & Unit 3 (Chinese Communist Party)Describe how the economic ideology of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has changed since the time Deng Xiaoping held power. Explain two reasons why the CCP has changed its economic ideology over the past 30 years.1.35
Set 2: 2019Conceptual AnalysisUnit 1 & Unit 2 bureaucracy, legitimacy)Bureaucracies can play a vital role in building legitimacy in political systems. (a) Describe two functions of a bureaucracy in a political system. (b) Identify one way governments recruit civil servants in a merit-based bureaucracy. Explain how this method of recruitment can build legitimacy in a political system. (c) Identify one way governments recruit civil servants in a non-merit-based bureaucracy. Explain how this method of recruitment can build legitimacy in a political system.2.66
Set 2: 2019Country SpecificUnit 4 (selection processes, fusion/separation of powers in Mexico and Great Britain)The selection process for the chief executive helps distinguish systems that fuse powers from systems that separate powers. (a) Describe two steps in the process of selecting the British prime minister. (b) Explain how the selection process for the British prime minister reflects a fusion of power. (c) Describe the process of selecting the Mexican president. (d) Explain how the selection process for the Mexican president reflects a separation of power2.87

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