AP US Government Multiple Choice Help (MCQ)

5 min readnovember 6, 2020

Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan

Akhilesh Shivaramakrishnan

AP US Government 👩🏾‍⚖️

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Hey, AP® Gov students! This blog's all about making you an expert on the multiple-choice section of the exam! When you're finished reading, we hope you'll be ready to ace the exam 🎉

An Overview 🔎

Let's go over a few general details about the multiple-choice section:
  • There are 55 multiple-choice questions on the AP US Government exam ✍
  • You have 80 minutes to answer them 🕐
    • This works out to be about 1 and a half minutes per question! This is a decent amount of time for each question, so take your time!
  • The multiple-choice section is worth 50% of your overall AP score 🌓
    • The other 50% is the free-response section (4 questions).
  • There are no deductions. You only get points for the questions you get correct. This means there's no difference between a question that's left blank and a question answered incorrectly!
    • Don't leave questions blank
  • About half of the questions will have supporting stimulus 📷 (some sort of graph, chart, passage, or image) and half will be standalone questions.

A view of the White House, the home of the President of the United States. Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Skills Assessed on the MC Section

College Board has 5 "practices" (skills) that it uses to assess students on the exam. 4 of those practices apply to the multiple-choice section. Here they are:
  • 📝 Skill 1 Concept Application—applying political concepts in hypothetical and real-life contexts
  • ⚖ Skill 2 Supreme Court Application—apply Supreme Court decisions in real-life contexts
  • 📈 Skill 3 Data Analysis—analyze and interpret graphs, tables, charts, infographics
  • 🔎 Skill 4 Source Analysis—interpret and analyze foundational documents

Types of Questions

Now, keeping those skills in mind, College Board has designed 4 types of multiple-choice questions that you'll encounter on the AP exam. Each of the different types assesses a different skill.
  1. 📈 Quantitative Analysis (5 sets of questions with 2-3 questions per set).
    • These questions will appear in sets and will have some sort of stimulus to look at and interpret.
    • The stimuli for the questions will include at least one of the following: line graphs, charts, tables, maps, infographics 📊
  2. 📃 Text Based Analysis (2 sets of questions with 3-4 questions per set).
    • These questions will appear in sets and will have some sort of stimulus for you to read and analyze.
      • 1 set will include a foundational document as a stimulus 📝
      • 1 set will include a primary or secondary text-based source as a stimulus (not a foundational document, but another relevant text) 📰
  3. 📷 Visual Source Analysis (3 sets of questions with 2 questions per set).
    • These questions will appear in sets and will have some visual stimulus for you to analyze.
    • The stimuli for the questions will include at least one of the following: map, image, political cartoon, or an infographic 🖼
  4. ✍ Standalone Questions (around 30 questions)
    • These questions will NOT have stimulus and will test your knowledge of various elements of the course.

You might have to know some of the required SCOTUS cases for the multiple-choice section! Image Courtesy of Pixabay

Multiple Choice Tips

Here are some tips for each of the different types of questions!
  1. 📈 Quantitative Analysis
    • Practice reading graphs and other models of data representation throughout the year. A great source to use is FiveThirtyEight, which has tons of politics-centered graphics 📊
    • Use the content you know to help guide you when analyzing a chart or graph. The graphic is normally only there to help you get started 🔎
  2. 📃📷 Text Based and Visual Analysis
    • Consider the historical context. Who was the author or artist? When was it written or drawn? What was happening during that time?
    • Try to connect any visual stimuli to a specific piece of content. How does the visual contribute to that?
    • Underline the important information or political concepts you can pick out. These might help you find the right answer!
  3. ✍ Standalone Questions
    • These will test your understanding of either SCOTUS cases ⚖ or applying concepts you've learned to various contexts.
    • Like all MC questions, remember to eliminate answers you know are wrong right off the bat! Use any of the above strategies relevant to the question.
💡 Do you want a more in-depth guide that will help you do amazing on the multiple-choice section? Check out this AP US Government Multiple Choice resource we've put together!

Sample Questions

📈 Quantitative Analysis


Sample quantitative analysis questions, courtesy of College Board CED for AP US Government & Politics.

Answers to Quantitative Analysis Sample Questions

3. C) chose freedom of speech as most crucial to their own liberty. This is clear because out of all of the civil liberties presented, freedom of speech had the highest percentages for both groups. 💬
4. A) The results presented in the graph confirm this answer choice, as the right to own guns is where gun owners and non-gun owners are split the most.

Text Based Analysis


Sample text based analysis questions, courtesy of College Board CED for AP US Government & Politics.

Answers to Text Based Analysis Sample Questions

7. C) This best captures the author's argument regarding the forms of democracy; see the last line of the first paragraph. 🏛
8. C) Interest groups only represent a small fraction of the minority according to this document, as seen in the last line. This goes with answer choice C, where one group's interests are overrepresented.

Visual Analysis


Sample visual analysis questions, courtesy of College Board CED for AP US Government & Politics.

Answers to Visual Analysis Sample Questions

12. C) Members of Congress receive political contributions from many special interest groups. This is represented by the various companies on the senators' jumpsuits. 💰
13. D) Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission (2010). This case dealt with campaign finance and therefore goes with this cartoon. 💵

Standalone Questions


Sample standalone MC questions, courtesy of College Board CED for AP US Government & Politics.

Answers to Standalone Sample Questions

1. C) trustee model. The legislator is acting on what they believe is in the best interest of the constituents, NOT what the constituents want. Therefore, this is the trustee model of representation. 🤔
2. B) This is the correct interpretation of the 2 documents. Federalist 10 discussed factions in this manner, and Brutus 1 argued against a strong federal government. 🔟

In Closing

That's a wrap on our multiple-choice tips! We have a huge bank of resources available for all AP subjects at Fiveable. Good luck on your AP exam 🎉🎉
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🏛Unit 1 – Foundations of American Democracy
⚖️Unit 2 – Branches of Government
✊🏽Unit 3 – Civil Liberties & Civil Rights
🐘Unit 4 – American Political Ideologies & Beliefs
🗳Unit 5 – Political Participation
🤔Exam Skills

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