Are you looking to self-study AP Government? You've come to the right place! We'll give you some tips and tricks to help you 1) decide whether you want to self-study the course and 2) how to go about the process! 🎉
Let's go through some of the positives and negatives of self studying an AP course!
🧑 Anyone can self study. Most students think that taking an AP exam means you MUST take the class at your school. However, with self studying, you might be able to get college credit for a course that you didn't take at school! You're not bound by prerequisites and what your school offers, so this is a big bonus. 🎒
📆 You have a lot more flexibility. Since you are not bound to a teacher, you have the flexibility to create your schedule! Additionally, you can choose how and when to study since you don't have a class you need to go to every day. 🤔
⏰ You can work at your own pace. You're able to study for the course whenever you'd like. If you think you have a solid foundation and can study the course in 3 months, you can do that! If you want to study over the summer and throughout the year, you can do that too! 🙌
⏲ Self studying requires good time management skills. Although flexibility is a super big positive, you want to make sure you have good time management skills before you self study a course. If you wait until the last minute to start studying for the exam, it might be super difficult to grasp all the content. 😬
👨🏫 You won't have a teacher to guide you with every piece of content. ****Although there are tons of resources online, nothing can completely replace a teacher. If you love that face-to-face interaction, self studying might be a bit more difficult for you. 🤔
✍ There might be some logistical hassles when signing up for the exam. ****If there aren't a lot of self-studiers at your school, it might be a bit of work to sign up for the exam. Make sure you let your AP coordinator know in advance if you plan on self-studying! 💻
The AP US Government Course and Exam Description (CED) is the ultimate document for the class! It contains all the information you must know to get a 5 on the exam, and also has a full practice test included. 🎉
The AP Gov CED breaks down the class into 5 core units. College Board also lists the weight each unit has on the exam. You can use this to guide your studies! Spend more time on the units that appear more on the exam. ⏰
AP US Government Breakdown
|% on the Exam
|Unit 1—Foundations of American Democracy
|goes over beginnings of the country, principles of the Constitution, "history stuff"
|Unit 2—Interactions Among Branches of Government
|all 3 branches of government, checks and balances, bureaucracy/iron triangles
|Unit 3—Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
|amendments and applicability to SCOTUS cases, selective incorporation, social movements
|Unit 4—American Political Ideologies and Beliefs
|political ideologies, public opinion and polling, political socialization
|Unit 5—Political Participation
|voting rights, linkage institutions (political parties, interest groups), campaigns/elections, media
🏛️As you might have noticed in the CED, there are specific Supreme Court cases 👩⚖️ and foundational documents 📜 that you must know for the AP exam! It's especially important to start studying these early on so you have time to master them.
Make a calendar for yourself to study the SCOTUS cases and foundational documents! Write each in different colors, and space them out throughout your study period. 📆
We have guides to help you master both the Supreme Court cases
, and the foundational documents
A view from outside the Supreme Court of the United States! Image from Pixabay
Making a study schedule is super important when you are self-studying a course! As I mentioned before, you want to make sure you have the best time management skills possible. ⏰ Here are some tips when creating a study schedule:
🤔 Skim through each of the units in the CED. Which ones do you already know a lot about? Which ones might you struggle with? Use the answers to those questions to guide your planning.
📝 Make sure you leave 1-2 weeks before the AP exam to review!
📜 Build in the foundational documents and court cases into your studying throughout the year! You don't want to have to memorize them all just before the exam.
Let's look at the structure of the AP exam:
There are lots of practice tests on the Internet that you should take advantage of if you decide to self-study the course. 🎉 There are some questions available in the Course/Exam Description, but tons more in review books 📚 you can purchase. You can find some of the best ones here [[link best books post]].
It is especially important that you practice the free-response questions ✍, as this is where many students struggle. When creating your study schedule, try scheduling some practice free-response sections 2-4 times a month (depending on the time you have left before your AP exam).
Make sure you grade your practice FRQs with the College Board rubric! Doing this will help you get used to the structure before you sit down to take the real exam! 📝
Remember, you've got this! Whether you decide to self-study, take the class online, or not take it all, we won't judge! Make sure you make the decision that is best for you and your mental health!
Good luck! 🎉