So, you want to take AP Comparative Government, but you have no idea what this class is all about or if it's even worth taking in the first place.
Ahhh, good old Comparative Government . . . the class where you compare governments. Literally. I'm not even joking. The entire point of this class is to compare and contrast different governance structures around the world.
The countries this course focuses on are Great Britain, Iran, Nigeria, Mexico, China, and Russia. You get to learn all about the differences and similarities about the governments you hear about in the news (cough US-China trade war cough) and the governments that don't get a lot of coverage. That's exactly what makes this course so interesting! You get to learn about how governments across the globe function (or, in some cases, don't 😬 . . . big oof).
POV: You 20 years from now, sitting on a mountain, thinking about how glad you are you read that article about whether you should take CompGov (Image credit of Pixabay)
If you want to learn more about the American government, you're looking in the wrong place, buddy. College Board has a whole class dedicated to the fifty nifty United States, and we have some great content
to get you all prepped for the exam 👀. Buut, not here, this course is all things not
So, should you take it? There's probably a bit more you want to know before taking the plunge.
The workload for CompGov is different from teacher to teacher, and that's completely normal for any class.
Some students have "heavy course loads" and have "multiple projects, readings, and activities with each concept/country" they need to learn about. Others "only had lectures, quizzes, and unit tests" and practically no homework (which is the dream, amirite? 😩). It also depends on your learning style and which of those is harder for you!
To find out which your class is going to be, I'd recommend talking to someone at your school who has taken the class before. Did they think the course was hard? Reach out, and you can find out exactly what your teacher expects and plan accordingly.
There are some things, though, that most students can agree on:
the content is unfamiliar
the content is, occasionally, complex
Because you're learning about six different countries' governments in one course, the information can get a bit confusing. This is especially true if you don't really know anything about governance in general.
There's a lot of terms that you may have never heard before. Like, what is a "Supreme Leader" and are they #sponsored? (Spoiler alert btw: the Supreme Leader of Iran is not sponsored by Supreme). The combo of lots of new terms, concepts, and six governments to keep straight can be difficult for a lot of people. Here is a list of the best Quizlet decks
for each unit to help you with this vocab though!
That's why one student recommends making sure you "keep up with the classwork and truly understand what makes each country unique." You'll need to be organized and learn how to juggle discussing many different political systems at once.
Student Tip: If you can, take AP US Government first! The class will give you an understanding of the basic concepts in government (like popular sovereignty, democracy, etc.), and you'll be able to approach each country with an understanding of how it compares to the one you already know a lot about.
If you're more of a cold, hard numbers kinda person, then don't worry! We've still got you covered. In 2019, the score distributions for CompGov were as follows:
Score of 5: 22.4%
Score of 4: 24.4%
Score of 3: 19.2%
Score of 2: 18.7%
Score of 1: 15.3%
When it was all said and done, the majority of students that took the CompGov exam passed the exam, and nearly half got a 4 or a 5.
This class gives you great insight into how different (and similar!) governments and political systems around the world really are.
Students all agree that it's a really "interesting" class that teaches you a lot about the world. You'll gain a deeper understanding of international affairs and why countries react the way they do in different situations, why people protest their government, and why they choose the leaders they do. Every news story you read will be so much more complex with the knowledge you gain.
world 👁👄👁 Image credit of Pixabay
If you're worried about college credit, don't be! Almost 1700 colleges in the United States give some kind of credit for CompGov, and you can always check
to see if your dream school does. Many of them give elective credit if you pass the exam, but it also serves as a prerequisite for many international affairs classes. At the very least, you'll be ahead of the curve when it comes to studying for an Intro to International Relations/Government class.
You'll also get answers to questions 🤔 you may have about political systems. Like, what is a parliament? What does a communist government look like? How do theocracies work? Even, how is democracy done differently around the world?
Regardless, this class will help you explore a bunch of different topics 🤓. You can see if you'll enjoy majoring in things like government, international relations, international business, languages, anthropology, and so many more.
So, should you take CompGov? I can't decide for you, but I hope this helped.
Personally, I would say go for it! Understanding major players in global politics is always a good idea. But, considering how much more connected and globalized our world is becoming, it may be a necessity going forward. This class can set the basis for your engagement with the news and expose you to unfamiliar political systems.
At the same time, if you don't think you can balance a potentially challenging class with the other courses you're taking, it's okay to not take CompGov. Mental health >>> everything else. Honestly, it may not even be worth taking if you don't think you'll enjoy the content, and being miserable for a semester probably isn't worth it. I won't be mad if you don't sign up for it, I promise (#notsponsored).
When it's all said and done, though, I just hope you enjoy whatever class you choose to take!