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So, you want to self-study for the AP Macroeconomics Exam? Well, you’ve come to the right place! Here are the steps you must take to effectively study for the AP Macro exam as well as earn that elusive 5!

First, you must get a textbook from which you can learn the material covered in the AP Macroeconomics syllabus. 

Even though you don’t have a teacher assigning you readings, you need to assign them to yourself. If you choose any of the approved textbooks from this list, you’ll be covering required material. It’s important that you get a textbook early in the year. If you spread out self studying and reading the book across the year, you’re much more likely to understand all of the material. However, macroeconomics is often taught over a semester, so you can theoretically be okay if you plan for at least a semester of studying.

Once you have the textbook, map out a reading schedule for yourself. Figure out how many weeks you have until the exam. Then subtract two weeks to make sure you save time for review right before the exam. You don’t want to be learning new material right up to exam day. Now, take the total number of chapters in the book and divide it by your total available weeks. That will tell you how many chapters you need to cover every week.

Create a Google Sheet to use as a calendar. List out all of the chapters, then create a due date column. If you have to do more than one chapter in a week, then spread out your due dates by 3-4 days. You can make this calendar incredibly personalized. For example, if one of the weeks in your plan is spring break and you can get more work done, then make sure the reading schedule reflects that. If you can pinpoint any hell weeks because of other homework, tech week for a school play, playoffs for sports, or any commitments, then don’t plan to read that week. And definitely don’t overcommit yourself. Be realistic.

And you need to stick to your plan! Once you have due dates, move over to Google Calendar and add them in with reminders. Schedule out specific times when you will read. For example, block out 6-8pm every Wednesday and Thursday. Find what works for you and stick to it. I promise, it will be very hard to self-motivate when you are inundated with other responsibilities. The best thing you can be is realistic.

Next, Use the Course Outline from the College Board website and make sure to cover each of the points while you study

Beyond the textbook, the course description from College Board will be your best friend. This is a very specific outline of all the content you are required to know. It also includes information of what you can expect from multiple choice and essay questions. If you chose a textbook from the list above, then it will be aligned to this outline.

You’ll want to make sure you focus on what matters. Chances are that your textbook will include more information than you might need. It’s all useful, especially on essays, but if you are running out of time, focus on the key topics that College Board outlines.

Buy a prep book to provide yourself with a comprehensive resource that covers all the topics of the AP exam. 

It can seem repetitive to have a prep book in addition to a textbook, but prep books have clutch resources like practice questions. Once you read chapter x, review the same section in the prep book. You can skim through the prep book and make sure you have all of the information you need. Answer practice questions to test yourself and make a list of any concepts that are still tricky.

If you find one chapter especially difficult, you’ll need to make a note and come back to it later. Chances are likely that time is your most precious commodity. You can’t afford to spend too much time on one chapter. It’s better to cover everything lightly rather than heavily covering only half of the course.

After that, transition into online resources. 

For that list of topics that you are still unsure about, head to the internet! Be careful about Googling things or using Wikipedia. Add “ap macro” to any search term you need to Google to make sure you are finding exam specific resources. Wikipedia is easily the best open-source resource that exists on the internet and yes, it is reliable. However, every article will go WAY more in depth than you need. Macroeconomics as a field of study is far more detailed and complex than what the AP exam requires of you. That’s way it’s so important to follow your textbook and the College Board description. Stay focused with what you need to know and only use additional resources if they are not overwhelming.

There are several respected YouTubers for AP Macroeconomics and these are great to use because they are experienced teachers who are aligned to the exam. The only caveat here is that changes to the exam do happen. For the 2020 exam, there were updates made to the course description, but nothing was changed in a big way. Just make sure you are checking that your resource has been updated.

  • Youtube channels like ACDC Econ, EconplusDal, and Jason Welker are respected YouTubers with tons of great content covering all aspects of AP Macroeconomics.
  • Watching these videos will give you the review you need to get a 5 on the AP Macroeconomics exam.
  • If you really want to, you may use these resources to supplement your learning and clarify key concepts throughout the year.

Some other online resources include:

  • Fiveable is a highly useful resource for prepping for the AP. Fiveable contains review videos as well as scheduled live streams that cover AP Macroeconomics concepts you MUST know for the exam, https://fiveable.me/!

Additional Tips: 

  • Before taking the AP, you must make use of practice exams found on the college board website.
  • Taking the released exams from past test years will help you get acclimated to the style of the test, allowing you to practice with test questions that are very similar to the ones you will have to answer when you take the AP Macroeconomics test.
  • Make sure to practice drawing the graphs for the FRQ’s, while making sure to use the process of elimination for tricky multiple choice questions

Before the day of the AP, make sure to get a good night’s sleep

  • It’s not worth cramming the night before and taking the test while sleep-deprived.
  • Make sure to pack pencils, pens, erasers, and a pencil sharpener with you to take to the testing room along with a snack and an unmarked water bottle.
  • Finally, turn off your phone before you enter the testing hall to make sure your score does not get invalidated.

I hope you found this article helpful! We here at Fiveable wish you luck on your AP Macroeconomics exam!