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AP US Government Exam Key Review Topics. REMEMBER THIS!. You have 45 minutes to do 60 MC questions. You have 100 minutes to do 4 FRQ’s. You MUST attempt all 4. I will explain why when we dissect the practice exam.

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remember this
  • You have 45 minutes to do 60 MC questions.
  • You have 100 minutes to do 4 FRQ’s. You MUST attempt all 4. I will explain why when we dissect the practice exam.
  • The exam is scored out of 120 points. Last years cut score was a 66/120 for a 3. That cut score varies by a few points each year.
  • So…the magic number you all need to focus on is at least a 70 out of 120!
  • Any combination (MC + FRQ’s) of points can get you to the 70. You just need 70.
i constitutional underpinnings federalism
I. Constitutional Underpinnings & Federalism
  • Considerations that influenced the formulation of the Constitution
  • Writings: John Locke / The Federalist Essays






i constitutional underpinnings federalism1
I. Constitutional Underpinnings & Federalism


  • War
  • Raising Revenue
  • Impeachment
  • legislation

a) major Checks and the nature of each

1. Veto

2. Supreme Court Rulings

i constitutional underpinnings federalism2
I. Constitutional Underpinnings & Federalism

C) Theories of Democratic government

  • Interest group pluralism / hyperpluralism
  • Elitism
  • Incrementalism
  • equality of opportunity NOT results
i constitutional underpinnings federalism3
I. Constitutional Underpinnings & Federalism

D) Federalism – Why federalism?

1) Define federal, unitary, confederal gvts.

2) Describe state/national govt relationship

a) McCulloch v. Maryland

b) Unfunded Mandates – give examples

c) Types of sanctions (cross over/cross cutting)

d) Block grants & Categorical grants

3) Identify federal responsibilities / state responsibilities

ii political beliefs behaviors
II. Political Beliefs & Behaviors
  • Beliefs that citizens hold about their government and their leaders

1) Mistrust

2) Trends in presidential approval

3) Trends in approval of Congress

B) Process by which citizens learn about politics

1) Political Socialization

2) Selective Perception

ii political beliefs behaviors1
II. Political Beliefs & Behaviors

- Demographic groups and voter behavior

  • Identify major demographic groups and describe their political behavior.
  • Describe voter turnout
ii political beliefs and behaviors
II. Political Beliefs and Behaviors

C) The nature sources and consequences of public opinion

1) public opinion polls

2) dealignment

D) The ways in which citizens vote and otherwise participate in political life

1) Voting / statistics / obstacles to turnout

2) Other forms of political participation

E) Factors that make citizens differ from one another in beliefs/behaviors

iii political parties interest groups and mass media
III. Political Parties, Interest Groups and Mass Media
  • Political Parties and elections

1) Functions

a. organize competition

b. get candidates elected

c. provide loyal opposition

2) Organization

a. National vs grass roots party membership

b. two party systems / multiparty systems

iii political parties interest groups and mass media1
III. Political Parties, Interest Groups and Mass Media

3) Development

  • Realignment
  • Identify obstacles to third parties.
  • Describe the decline of the political party

4) Effects on the Political process

iii political parties interest groups and mass media2
III. Political Parties, Interest Groups and Mass Media

5) Electoral laws and systems

  • plurality elections, winner-take all, proportional representation
  • primary, caucus, convention
  • How do Dems/Repubs nominate Presidential Candidates?
  • Electoral College Procedure

6) Describe contemporary political campaigns

iii b interest groups
III. (B)Interest Groups
  • The range of interests represented

2) The activities of interest groups

a. techniques / resources

b. examples of specific groups and their resources

3) Effects on the Political Process

a. Federalist #10 James Madison

b. Incumbency advantage

4) Political Action Committees (PACs)

a. Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974

b. McCain-Feingold, Buckley v. Valeo, Citizens United

iii c media
III. C) Media
  • Functions and structure of Media
  • Impact of media on politics

a) campaigns (watchdog)

b) gatekeeper

c) horse race journalism

iv institutions of government a congress
IV. Institutions of Government(A) Congress
  • Describe demographics of Congress
  • Explain incumbency advantages
  • Define gerrymandering / ID Supreme Court Limits (One man, one vote)
iv institutions of government a congress1
IV. Institutions of Government(A) Congress. . .

4) Factors that influence Congress

a. Divided Government

b. Party Discipline and Loyalty (Partisanism)

c. Influence of interest group pluralism

d. Constituent services (casework) in the home district (their opinions too!)

iv institutions of government a congress2
IV. Institutions of Government(A) Congress. . .

5) Legislative Process

a. Advantages of the majority party

b. The importance of committees

c. Speaker of the House

d. Rules Committee

e. Standing committees

f. committee assignments

g. leadership positions

h. filibuster / cloture

i. pork barrel politics

iv institutions of government a congress3
IV. Institutions of Government(A) Congress. . .

6) Non-Legislative activities

a. oversight of bureaucracy

b. confirmation politics (Senate)

c. impeachment / removal (House+ Senate)

d. special investigations

iv institutions of government a congress4
IV. Institutions of Government(A) Congress. . .

7) What do House/Senate do collectively? What are their similarities?

8) What different powers do House/Senate have?

a. Senate

i. More prestigious (Armed Services)

ii. Less formal, fewer rules

iii. Confirmations / Treaties

iv. Filibusters

iv institutions of government a congress5
IV. Institutions of Government(A) Congress. . .

b. House of Representatives

i. power of the purse (Ways and Means)

ii. closest to the people

iii. more rules, fewer staff, less prestigious

institutions of government b presidency
Institutions of Government(B) Presidency

1) What are the Constitutional Powers of the President? (From Article II)

2) What are the informal powers of the President? (evolving from tradition and custom)

b presidency
(B) Presidency

3) How has the President gained power over Congress?

a. Executive Orders

b. Executive Agreements

c. Impoundment of funds

d. War Powers

e. Veto / veto threats

f. Media access (“Bully pulpit”)

iv institutions of government c courts
IV. Institutions of Government( C ) Courts

1) Who creates federal courts?

2) How are federal judges selected?

3) How is the court system organized?

4)Describe basic jurisdictional issues.

a. What is habeas corpus?

b. How do most court cases end? (chances of having SCOTUS hear your case)

5) Describe Supreme Court procedure

a. What cases have original jurisdiction in the Supreme Court?

b. How do Justices decide to grant cert?

c. How can outside groups influence the Supreme Court?

d. Who is the solicitor General?

e. What is a concurring / dissenting opinion

f. What is Judicial Activism v. Restraint?

Loose v. Strict construction?

6) ID/describe major rulings of the Warren, Burger and Rehnquist and Roberts Courts.

institutions of government d bureaucracy
Institutions of Government (D) Bureaucracy

1) ID/Describe Cabinet, Independent Agencies, EOP, and Government Corporations.

2) Describe quasi-legislative and quasi-judicial functions. (Legislative/Judicial-like duties)

3) What are iron triangles? Issue networks?

4) ID/describe rules of bureaucracy.

a. Hatch Act

b. Freedom of Information Act

c. Pendleton Act

d. Whistleblower Act

v civil liberties and civil rights
V. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
  • The development of civil liberties and rights by judicial interpretation (see specific cases handout)

B) Knowledge of substantive rights and liberties

1. Constitutional limitations on Free Speech

a. In what cases can speech be limited?

b. What types of speech are most unlimited?

c. Types of speech: Pure, Symbolic Speech Plus

2. Constitutional interpretations of Separation of Church and State

vi civil liberties and civil rights
VI. Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

3. Constitutional development of right to privacy

4. Constitutional development of Due Process

C) The impact of the Fourteenth Amendment on the constitutional development of rights and liberties

1. Barron v. Balitmore

2. Gitlow v. New York

3. Gideon v. Wainright

vi public policy
VI. Public Policy
  • Public policy making in a federal system

B) The formation of policy agendas

C) The role of institutions in the enactment of policy

D) The role of the bureaucracy and the courts in implementation/interpretation

E) Types: Foreign, Domestic, Fiscal, Monetary

vi public policy1
VI. Public Policy

F) Linkages between policy processes and the following

1. Institutions/federalism

2. Political parties

3. Interest groups

4. Public opinion

5. Elections

6. Policy issue networks

7. Mass media

G) Process and politics of creating the Budget