👋🏼 Hi, I’m Nicole Johnston from New Jersey! I’m an AP Gov teacher and streamer at Fiveable. This year’s exam is different than we expected, but I’m here to help. I’ve put together this study guide to help keep you on track while you are studying from home. You can follow this guide on your own with a free Fiveable account! I’ll also be joining a group of students live on Wednesdays @ 8pm ET during cram sessions. Pick up your cram pass to join us.
Format of the New Exam
This year, the AP US Government exam will look different than you were expecting. As we’re all on quarantine 😷 due to COVID-19, the College Board has decided to update the format and content of the test to fit an online testing format.
You’ll have 45-minutes to take the exam online and it will only cover units 1-7. If you have already studied content from unit 8 or 9, don’t stress! It’s all worth knowing. With the crisis we have now, cities and industries will be immensely impacted. Your knowledge will help you make sense of it all. You just won’t be tested on it.
These units are on the exam. Click the unit to see the study guide! (new unit guides coming soon!)
1 – 🇺🇸 Foundations of American Democracy
2 – ⚖️ Interactions Among Branches of Government
3 – ✊🏽 Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Not on the exam:
4 – 🐘 American Political Ideologies and Beliefs
5 – 🗳 Political Participation
As of March 20th, we know the test will ONLY include free-response questions and no multiple-choice questions. However, we don’t know yet exactly what this will look like.
Some questions we still have:
- How many FRQs will be on the exam?
- Will each question be timed or can you jump between them within 45 minutes?
- Will the questions be structured like normal FRQs?
College Board will post answers to these questions by April 3 here. We’ll update you as soon as we know. For now, focus on reviewing the content on the exam. You’ll have time in April/May to practice questions and prepare for the format.
When is the exam and how do I take it?
These questions will also be answered on April 3. The test will be online so you can take it at home. Most likely it will be accessible from a computer or phone. No other details have been shared yet, but we’ll post updates as soon as we have them!
I have more questions!
We do too. There are lots of unanswered questions right now about how this will work, how they will prevent cheating, if scoring will be the same, how it will be graded, when scores will be ready, if colleges will be okay with these changes, etc. Rest assured that College Board is working on answers to everything. The best thing you can do right now is to focus on what you can control. Review the content and practice self-care.
How do I prepare for the exam?
With so many school closures and the stress of a global pandemic, this review season will be different than usual. If this is your first AP exam, welcome! Don’t worry, it’s not usually this chaotic.
We’ve put together this plan for you to follow between now and May. This will cover all of the units and leave you time to practice questions before test day. Some classes may have done units out of chronological order throughout the year, which is ok. The units don’t have to be taught in order. If you are learning new material on your own and need some help, use the chat bubble on http://fiveable.me. We’ll answer any questions you may have.
What resources does this study plan use?
All of the required resources are free. You’ll need to create a free Fiveable account to jump in. We’ve also linked a few other websites, articles, and YouTube videos that you can access for free. Some of the suggested resources include paid products. There are some documentaries that you can find on streaming sites with a paid membership and we’ll also list streams and practice questions that require a paid cram pass on Fiveable.
PRE-WORK: SET-UP YOUR STUDY ENVIRONMENT
Before we begin, take some time to get organized. Remote learning can be great, but it also means you’ll need to hold yourself accountable more than usual.
🖥 Create a study space.
Make sure you have a designated place at home to study. Somewhere you can keep all of your materials, where you can focus on learning, and where you are comfortable. Spend some time prepping the space with everything you need and you can even let others in the family know that this is your study space.
📚 Organize your study materials.
Get your notebook, textbook, prep books, or whatever other physical materials you have. Also create a space for you to keep track of review. Start a new section in your notebook to take notes or start a Google Doc to keep track of your notes. Get your self set up!
📅 Plan designated times for studying.
The hardest part about studying from home is sticking to a routine. Decide on one hour every day that you can dedicate to studying. This can be any time of the day, whatever works best for you. Set a timer on your phone for that time and really try to stick to it. The routine will help you stay on track.
🏆 Decide on an accountability plan.
How will you hold yourself accountable to this study plan? You may or may not have a teacher or rules set up to help you stay on track, so you need to set some for yourself. First set your goal. This could be studying for x number of hours or getting through a unit. Then, create a reward for yourself. If you reach your goal, then x. This will help stay focused!
🇺🇸 UNIT 1: Foundations of American Democracy
Unit 1 introduces the concept of democracy and its various forms. The documents that first started the United States are analyzed by looking at the challenges and promises associated with each. The division of power within our government: individual rights vs government authority and state vs federal government powers are at the heart of this unit and discussed within each founding document.
Definitely do this:
🎥 Watch these videos:
- Intro to American Government, models of Representative Democracy: A full review of the types of democracy, the difference between government and politics as well as the functions of government are discussed.
- Foundational Documents Review: A deep dive into the foundational documents you need to know for the exam.
- Ratification of the Constitution: Constitutional Convention: A review of the compromises leading to the ratification of the Constitution.
📰 Check out these articles:
- Challenges of the Articles of Confederation (Khan Academy)
- Constitutional Interpretation of Federalism: (Khan Academy)
- Concepts of Federalism (Cliff Notes)
- Federal-State Relations (Cliff Notes)
- Need to Know Supreme Court Cases (Scherz-Cibolo-Universal City Independent School District)
- Join the Discussion: Follow this link to participate in various conversations surrounding Unit 1. Also use this link to add questions/discussion topics of your own.
If you have more time or want to dig deeper:
- 🌶 Join the live cram stream: Unit 1 Reviews with Nicole Johnston. Get your cram pass now. All streams will take place on Wednesdays at 8PM Eastern
- April 1: Foundations of American Democracy
- April 8: Federalism
- April 15: Foundational Documents
- 🥔 Check out Too Late to Apologize: An Ode to the Declaration of Independence (YouTube)