AP US Government Free Response Help - FRQs

#frq

#exam-tips

#skills

#essays

โฑ๏ธย ย 6 min read

written by

Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan

akhilesh shivaramakrishnan

November 7, 2020


https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-vVQqKoVwd0zF.png?alt=media&token=232d02b0-3bbb-451a-aad2-6f29fde7a479

A view of Washington DC, where politics is everywhere! Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Intro to FRQs

Welcome back to APยฎ Gov! This blog's all about making you an expert on the free-response section of the AP US Gov exam, which makes up 50% of your score. Are you ready? We are! Let's get started!

An Overview ๐Ÿ”Ž

Let's go over a few general details about the free-response section:

  • There are 4 free-response questions on the AP US Government exam โœ

    • FRQ 1: Concept Application ๐Ÿ“

    • FRQ 2: Quantitative Analysis ๐Ÿ“ˆ
    • FRQ 3: SCOTUS Comparison Essay โš–
    • FRQ 4: Argumentative Essay ๐Ÿ—ณ
  • You have 100 minutes to answer them ๐Ÿ•

    • You can split up your time however you choose. College Board suggests this timeline:

      • FRQ 1 Concept Application: 20 minutes ๐Ÿ“

      • FRQ 2 Quantitative Analysis: 20 minutes ๐Ÿ“ˆ

      • FRQ 3 SCOTUS Comparison Essay: 20 minutes โš–

      • FRQ 4 Argumentative Essay: 40 minutes ๐Ÿ—ณ

  • The other 50% is the multiple-choice section (55 questions).

Skills Assessed on the FRQ Section

College Board assesses 5 skills on the exam. Four of those skills apply to the free-response section. Here they are:

  • ๐Ÿ“ Skill 1 Concept Application: apply political concepts in hypothetical and real-life contexts.
  • โš– Skill 2 Supreme Court Application: apply Supreme Court decisions in real-life contexts.
  • ๐Ÿ“ˆ Skill 3 Data Analysis: analyze and interpret graphs, tables, charts, infographics.
  • ๐Ÿ’ฌ Skill 5 Argumentation: create an argument using the foundational documents as support.

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-boE9hXUmcbcM.png?alt=media&token=915707bb-deb6-4abc-829c-d242f7537562

As you're reading this guide, find a study place! Does it look like this one? ๐Ÿ˜‰ Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Command Terms ๐Ÿ”ค

Each free-response question on the AP Gov exam will have one of the following command terms. A command term is just a verb that guides you in answering the question with just the right amount of detail ๐Ÿ™ƒ

  • Compare: provide an analysis of similarities and/or differences ๐Ÿ”

  • Define: provide the meaning (definition) of a word or concept ๐Ÿ“‘

  • Identify: indicates a shorter response (you don't need a ton of detail) ๐ŸŽฏ

  • Describe: analyze the characteristics of the topic or concept at hand โœ

  • Explain: should be at least 2-3 sentences and requires lots of detail ๐Ÿ“

    • This is the description College Board gives for the "explain" command term:

Provide information about how or why a relationship, process, pattern, position, situation, or outcome occurs, using evidence and/or reasoning. Explain โ€œhowโ€ typically requires analyzing the relationship, process, pattern, position, situation, or outcome, whereas explaining โ€œwhyโ€ typically requires analysis of motivations or reasons for the relationship, process, pattern, position, situation, or outcome.

  • Develop an argument: provide a claim, evidence to back the claim, and explain your evidence ๐Ÿ’ฌ

  • Draw a conclusion: use the information provided or your knowledge to formulate a statement that demonstrates you have synthesized the evidence well ๐Ÿ“ƒ

Breaking Down FRQ 1 & 2 ๐Ÿ“š

Let's go through the specifics of the first 2 FRQs! These tend to be more reliant on the specific content you've covered in class, and often have shorter responses.

FRQ 1 Concept Application / Analysis ๐Ÿ“

Your prompt will have a scenario and you'll need to relate it to a political institution, behavior, or process. This question will often require you to pull from specific content that you've learned throughout the year in class!

We've created a guide for this FRQ, which has several tips and some sample questions here ๐Ÿ“

FRQ 2 Quantitative Analysis ๐Ÿ“ˆ

This question contains quantitative data through a table, graph, map, or infographic. Your job is to carry out the 2 tasks that College Board incorporates into each quantitative FRQs:

  • Describe the data presented and identify some sort of pattern or trend in this data ๐Ÿ“‰

  • Draw a conclusion based on the data and explain how the data relates to a political principle, institution, or concept ๐Ÿ“Š

We've included a handful of tips and some sample questions for the quantitative analysis FRQ in our guide here ๐Ÿ“ˆ

Breaking Down FRQ 3 & 4 ๐Ÿ“ƒ

The next 2 FRQs have responses that are normally a lot longer and require you to master 15 SCOTUS cases and a set of foundational documents ๐Ÿ“ƒโš–

We'll give you some helpful essay-writing tips here!

https://firebasestorage.googleapis.com/v0/b/fiveable-92889.appspot.com/o/images%2F-mMoHcO2qGulr.png?alt=media&token=4781446b-ea13-4831-8138-a362fcb76d5a

This is a nighttime view of the Supreme Court, where justices hear cases! ๐Ÿ› Image Courtesy of Pixabay

FRQ 3 Supreme Court Case Comparison Essay โš–

This free-response question provides information about a non-required Supreme Court case, its background, and the holding.

Then, you'll have to do the following:

  • Identify and explain similarities and differences between the non-required Supreme Court case and a required case (information included) ๐Ÿ”

  • Describe in more detail the required Supreme Court case that's specified in the question โœ

  • Explain how the non-required Supreme Court case relates to a political concept ๐Ÿ“

Here are some tips for your SCOTUS comparison essay: โš–

  • Make sure you know your required Supreme Court cases (here's our guide!). There won't be info provided about the required ones, so you should know these well ๐Ÿ’ญ

  • Start studying these court cases as early in the year as possible ๐Ÿ“…

    • Make flashcards for each case so that you know all the important details ๐Ÿ—ƒ

    • For each case, you should know the decision, rationale behind the decision, and the constitutional principle used in the ruling ๐Ÿง 

๐Ÿ’ก Here's our guide for the Supreme Court comparison essay! It provides a deeper look into the rubric and writing your response. โš–

FRQ 4 Argumentative Essay ๐Ÿ—ณ

In this question, you'll develop an argument based on the question provided on the exam.

  • Make sure your thesis is defensible and you establish a line of reasoning ๐Ÿ“

  • You'll have to explain at least 2 pieces of evidence to support your claim.

    • 1 piece from a foundational document on the list provided ๐Ÿ“ƒ

    • 1 piece of evidence from another foundational document or your knowledge of AP Gov ๐Ÿค”

  • Make sure you provide reasoning and explain your evidence's connection to the thesis ๐Ÿ”„

  • You must also provide an alternate perspective, and this can often be confusing. You can do this through a refutation, concession, or rebuttal ๐Ÿ™ƒ

Here are some tips for your argumentative essay: ๐Ÿ—ณ

  • Make sure your thesis is strong! If your thesis doesn't "establish a line of reasoning," you'll have a limited maximum number of points you can get on the rubric ๐Ÿ“ƒ

  • Make sure you're paying attention to the prompt! You don't want to write a whole essay and not answer the question ๐Ÿ‘€

  • Give yourself at least 30-40 minutes for this question. Since this question is a full-scale essay, you'll want to allow yourself at least 30-40 out of your 100 minutes to write the essay โŒš

  • Create an outline before you start writing!

  • Make sure you know your foundational documents in and out before the exam! You can review those with this resource ๐Ÿ“ƒ

๐Ÿ’ก Want a more in-depth explanation of the argumentative essay? Check out our guide for this FRQ here! ๐Ÿ—ณ

In Closing

We've also compiled all the past FRQs from released AP Gov exams in one place so you don't have to search the Internet. You can find these past prompts here ๐Ÿ“š

Good luck on the AP exam ๐ŸŽ‰

Fiveable

Join Our Community

Fiveable Community students are already meeting new friends, starting study groups, and sharing tons of opportunities for other high schoolers. Soon the Fiveable Community will be on a totally new platform where you can share, save, and organize your learning links and lead study groups among other students!๐ŸŽ‰

Fiveable Logo

2550 north lake drive
suite 2
milwaukee, wi 53211

92% of Fiveable students earned a 3 or higher on their 2020 AP Exams.

*apยฎ and advanced placementยฎ are registered trademarks of the college board, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, this product.

ยฉ fiveable 2020 | all rights reserved.