Welcome to AP® Macroeconomics! If you're reading this, you are most likely either self-studying the course, are homeschooled, or in a situation where you might not have a formal teacher. Lucky for you, AP Macro is one of the easier AP subjects to self-study. While teaching yourself an entire AP class won't be easy, it is entirely doable.
You are about to embark on a difficult journey in learning economics, but one that will be entirely worth it. Learning economics teaches you not only how the economy works, but gives you a new skill set in analyzing how people make decisions affect people like us. Economics isn't just about how the money circulates, but it also explains why you hit snooze in the morning, why you choose to have cereal instead of pancakes in the morning, etc.
Economics helps explain why you may choose one cereal over the other. Image Courtesy of GIPHY
Many believe that self-studying an AP is inferior to being able to be in a class. Not having a teacher to rely on is certainly one of the challenges of self-studying. However, if you have an AP Macro teacher at your school, you can get help from or talk to him/her/them about the material you're learning from an expert.
Furthermore, self-studying AP Macro has awesome positives. Most notably, when you're teaching yourself the course, you call the shots. By that, we mean you choose how long to spend on which topics and you choose how to learn. You need to ask yourself these two questions: how do I learn? & what do I need to succeed?
To give a more personal example, over the 2019-2020 school year, I self-studied AP Microeconomics. Because my school doesn't offer AP Micro, I was completely in the dark and frankly, pretty much alone in my learning. At first glance, this sucked. No teacher, no knowledge of the subject, what was I going to do? I learn best through videos and tons of practice, ultimately earning a 5 on the exam. By doing what worked for me and taking the course at a pace that I enjoyed, I was able to do well, and the same can apply for you in AP Macro.
A crucial part of successfully self-studying AP Macro is to set a pace and plan out how you are going to cover a year's worth of content on your own. While this may sound like a daunting task, an easy way to go about this is by starting broad, focusing on long term goals like understanding entire units or parts of the exam, and then slowly but surely getting more specific and short term.
In AP Macro, there are 6 units that will be covered on the exam. These are:
Basic Economic Concepts
Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle
National Income and Price Determination
Long-Run Consequences of Stabilization Policies
Open Economy—International Trade and Finance
When you start your planning, make sure you cover these 6 units, but also include time to rest. You need time to rest because self-studying a course is incredibly daunting. Thus, giving yourself days to put econ aside will help you in the long-run (pun intended).
We suggest taking at least 2 weeks to learn the content of each unit. Take another week for AP style practice, solidifying the material, and reviewing topics that confused you. However, the best part of self-studying is that you can read the last two sentences and completely throw that out the window. Do what works for you!
An incredibly useful tool when setting up more specific parts of your studying is the AP Macro CED
(Course and Exam Description). The CED basically lays out not only all of the units, but the sub-units, skills required on the exam, and pretty much anything and everything that is fair game for testing.
A sample of unit 1 at a glance. These 6 topics form the basis for what will be expected of you as far as unit 1 goes. Image Courtesy of AP Macro CED
If you plan your studying around these key topics, you won't be caught off guard come exam day.
With these tools at your side, you are going to ace AP Macroeconomics this year! With some productive planning, AP Macroeconomics is CERTAINLY manageable. Good luck 🎉