Advanced Placement U. S. Government Study Guide

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Advanced Placement U.S. Government Study Guide

This AP US Government Study Guide has been created as a preparation for the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam.  It is not a stand-alone guide that will guarantee success.  It is however, a continuation of our examination of U.S. Government and Politics this year, and if followed, will give you a significant advantage for success. 

If you have taken and kept careful broadcast notes, created a test bank, quiz bank, and a timed write bank in your notebook as suggested, this study guide will be a compliment that will aid you in your AP Government Test  preparation.

First, study your notes.   Get a “Study Buddy”, someone who will be an asset and a positive study partner. Use the below Template for Study to create/organize your notes.  Create a set of notes that fits into the Comparative Politics Template, as if you were examining the U.S. Government as a student of Comparative Politics. 

Second, once you have completed the Template, go to the multiple-choice questions that follow.  Challenge yourself in each topical area of the questions.  Quiz each other.  Compare answers.  Discuss your reasoning. Make notes of new information.

Third, go over the multiple-choice tests you have taken this year.  Pay particular attention to the questions that present information in the question format, “ All of the following are …. EXCEPT…”. “Which of the following are…..”  These type of questions present a tremendous amount of information, if you can determine which is the exception or which is true of false.

Fourth, go to the Timed Write Questions.  Instead of writing out beautifully composed narratives, create separate answer strategies.   Create short outlines that present a strategy as to how/what information you will use to answer the question.  If the answer calls for “list 2 ways”, list three or four.  If the answer calls for giving two examples, give three.  Remember, your answer will be graded on the basis of a rubric that gives credit for correct answers.  It does not take away points for wrong answers, it just gives you credit for right ones.   If the question asks for two reasons why, and you give three reasons why. If one is wrong, you will still earn credit for the two that were right.  Attempt ALL the questions.

Lastly, there is an AP Multiple Choice Exam included at the end of the study guide.  Time yourself and take the exam.  Check your answers after you complete it.  Learn from your mistakes. Revel in your success.


The amount of time you put into preparing for the AP Government and Politics exam will be directly proportional to your personal success.  Do not attempt to cram all in one night.  Instead, prepare daily study time well in advance of the test.

I hope that you find this study guide of some use.  Good luck and study smart!





The purpose of this section is to provide an overview of the forces that have shaped the particular character of the state.

          A. Critical Events - the historical process by which its’ current

political system was formed

          B. Critical Junctures - major stages and/or turning points in the state’s


          1. How has the country assumed its present geographic shape and

political order?

2. How have relations between the state and the society it governs

developed over time?

C. Implications for Contemporary Politics - how does the past

pattern of state development continue to shape the country’s political





A. State and Economy - the basic organization of the country’s economy. 

1. What role does the state have in managing the state’s economy?

2. Are there any other “economic actors” in the country?

          B. Society and Economy - the social and political implications of the

country’s economic situation

          1. Who benefits from economic change?

          2. How does economic development create or reinforce class,

ethnic, gender, regional, or ideological cleavages?

C. International Political Economy - the country’s global role in patterns of trade and foreign investment

          1. The relationship to regional and international organizations.

          2. How have international economic issues affected or reflected the

domestic political agenda?




          A. Organization of the State - the fundamental principles - as

reflected in its’ constitution, its official ideology, and historical experience

- on which the political system and the distribution of political power are


          1. The basic structure of the state: legislative, executive, judiciary,

military, state run corporations, sub- national government.

          B. Policy Making Process - how state policy is made and implemented



A. Relationship Between the State and Society - how society within the state participates, are represented in the political system, how society influences policymaking.

B. Party System / Election Process - reviews individual political parties within the system and discusses the election process.

C. Political Culture, Citizenship, and Identity - the nature and source of political values and attitudes

          1. Education systems

          2. The media

          3. Religion

          4. Ethnicity

D. Interests, Social Movements, and Protest - when and where do citizens engage in acts of protest and the state’s response.




A. Contemporary Issues and Tensions/Political Challenges - those that may shape the direction of future political change



Although this “Comparative Politics Template” is designed to be used to investigate foreign governments and states, it can be used as a study guide for an examination of U.S. Government.


 Advanced Placement Government and Politics:

Multiple Choice Practice Questions

 Constitutional Development

1.    Which of the following is considered a linkage institution?

a.    The bureaucracy

b.    The Congress

c.     The executive department

d.    The government

e.    The media


2.    All of the following are characteristics of politics EXCEPT

a.    conflict

b.    compromise

c.     resolution

d.    the advocacy of minority rights

e.    the interrelationship of individuals and groups


3. Which of the following institutions established in the Constitution make public policy?

a.       the Senate, the president, and political parties

b.       the Congress, the president, and the courts

c.       the Congress, the courts, and the military

d.       the Congress, the president, and the military

e.       the Congress, the president, and the bureaucracy


4. Which of the following best defines a set of institutions linking government, politics, and public policy?

a.       an educational system

b.       a political system

c.       a social system

d.       an economic system

e.       a socioeconomic system


5. Which of he following is considered linkage institutions?

I.                    Congress

II.                  Political parties

III.                Elections

IV.                The bureaucracy

a.       I only

b.       I and II only

c.       II and III only

d.       I, II, and III only


6. Which of the following principles describes a philosophy of the Federalist Party?

a.       Federalists believed in a loose construction of the Constitution

b.       Federalists believed in a strict interpretation of the Constitution

c.       Federalists believed in a conservative interpretation of the Constitution

d.       Federalists believed that Congress should be the main cog of government

e.       Federalists believed that the interests of the common man should be reflected in government


7. All of the following characteristics reflect the reasons why political parties are formed EXCEPT

a.       people band together because of similar needs

b.       people band together because of similar values

c.       people band together because they have similar income

d.       people band together because they have similar goals

e.       people band together because they have similar beliefs


8. Which of the following groups reflects a view so narrow that it examines a candidate’s record on only one specific issue?

a.       single-interest groups

b.       multi-issue groups

c.       plurality groups

d.       Democrats

e.       Republicans


9. All of the following are basic tenens of our democracy today EXCEPT

a.       a belief in the worth and dignity of the individual

b.       a belief in the respect for equality

c.       a belief in universal health care

d.       a belief in the guarantee of individual freedoms

e.       a belief in majority rule with minority rights


10. Which of the following institutions is commonly called the fourth branch of government?

a.       the bureaucracy

b.       the media

c.       the Internal Revenue Service

d.       the CIA

e.       the FBI


11. Which of the following principles is most fundamental to democratic theory?

a.       free elections

b.       minority rules

c.       civil rights

d.       political parties

e.       a written constitution


12. Which of the following factors is most essential to an enlightened understanding of the general citizenry?

a.       interest groups

b.       free speech and a free press

c.       the right to property

d.       political parties

e.       a bill of rights


13. Which of the following groups believes that bargaining and compromise are essential ingredients in our democracy?

a.       elitists

b.       pluralists

c.       hyperpluralists

d.       Democrats

e.       Republicans


14. Which of the following theories contends that our society is divided along class lines and that a narrow upper class strata rules regardless of the formal organization of government?

a. elite b. pluralist         c. hyperpluralist             d. socialist                     e. egalitarian


15. Which of the following theories claims that too many competing groups cripple government’s ability to govern?

a.       hyperpluralist theory

b.       pluralist theory

c.       elite theory

d.       democratic theory


16. Which of the following groups share the belief that the public interest is rarely translated into public policy?

a.       elitist and pluralist

b.       pluralist and hyperpluralist

c.       elitist and hyperpluralist

d.       Democrats and Republicans

e.       Liberals and conservatives


Answer Key

1. E                   2. D                  3. B                   4. B                   5. C                  6. A


7. C                  8. A                  9. C                  10. A                 11. A                 12. B


13. B                 14. A                 15. A                 16. C



Foundations of the Constitution


17. Which statement(s) best reflects what the United States Constitution represents?

I.                    The Constitution is a set of basic laws for government

II.                  The Constitution is an explanation of the way government operates assigning separate powers to each branch and guaranteeing citizens their rights

III.                The Constitution is the supreme law of the land

a.       I only

b.       III only

c.       I and III only

d.       II and III only

e.       I, II, and III


18. John Locke’s Second Treatise of Civil Government advocates

a.       a divine monarchy

b.       rights for the minority

c.       majority rights

d.       natural rights

e.       democratic rule


19. Which of the following statements best reflects the political philosophy established after the colonists achieved their independence?

I.                    The former colonists eliminated property criteria for political office

II.                  The former colonists recognized the need for a strong executive

III.                The former colonists believed that the states should become the dominant political and social force

a.       I only

b.       I and II only

c.       I, II, and III

d.       III only

e.       II and III only


20. When the Articles of Confederation were adopted, the nation’s major concern was dominated by

a.       slavery

b.       religious freedom

c.       equality for women

d.       political dominance by the central government

e.       economic issues


21. Which of the following documents represents the first adopted Constitution of the U.S.?

a.       Declaration of Independence

b.       Bill of Rights

c.       Articles of Confederation

d.       Virginia Plan


22. Which of the following statements best describes the Articles of Confederation?

domination of the government by the states

I.                    a national congress with one house and no executive

II.                  no national court system

III.                no ability of the central government to enforce the collection of taxes

a.       I only

b.       I and II only

c.       I, II, and III only

d.       I and IV only

e.       I, II, III, and IV


23. Which of the following statements by the Federalist Papers referred to “the most common and durable source of faction”?

I.                    a new and emerging middle class

II.                  the absence of a strong national government

III.                the unequal distribution of property

IV.                the abuse of minority rights

a.       I only

b.       I and II only

c.       III only

d.       I, II, and III only

e.       II and IV only


24. Madison believed that in order to prevent a “tyranny of the majority” the new government should include all of the following EXCEPT

a.       creating political institutions that could function with the consent of a majority

b.       limiting the president’s term in office

c.       creating different branches of government with distinctive and separate powers

d.       creating a system of checks and balances

e.       limiting the ability of the electorate to vote directly for government officials except members of the House


25. Complete the following statement:

Even though the representatives to the Constitutional Convention came from different parts of the country and had differing economic status, they were able to agree to

I.                    a series of political compromises

II.                  a Republican government for each state

III.                the method to count slaves for representation purposes

a.       I only

b.       I and II only

c.       I, II, and III

d.       II and III only

e.       I and III only


26. Which statement reflects James Madison’s point of view in the Federalist Papers regarding the consequences of unequal distribution of wealth?

I.                    the formation of factions

II.                  the probability of minority discontent

III.                the development of political parties

a.       I only

b.       II only

c.       I and III only

d.       I, II, and III

e.       II and III only


27. Which of the following documents created a compromise that led to the formation of a bicameral legislature?

a.       Articles of Confederation

b.       Connecticut Compromise

c.       New Jersey Plan

d.       Virginia Plan

e.       Three-Fifths Compromise


28. Which of the following statements reflects and action taken by the delegates to the Constitutional Convention?

I.                    setting a date for the abolition of slavery in the North

II.                  outlawing future importing of slaves

III.                setting a number for counting slaves for representation purposes

a.       I only

b.       II only

c.       I, II, and III

d.       I and III only

e.       II and III only


29. The Federalists believed that a nation dominated by factions would lead to

a.       tyranny of the majority

b.       protection of minority rights

c.       a recognition that factions would be in the best interests of the country

d.       another revolution

e.       favorable economic growth


30. The national government under the Articles of Confederation

a.       consisted of three branches

b.       promoted unity among the states

c.       had a bicameral legislature

d.       consisted of a unicameral legislature

e.       required unanimous passage of all legislation


31. Shay’s Rebellion was significant because

a.       allowed commercial interests to express their disenchantment with the status quo

b.       symbolized the weakness of the central government under the Articles of Confederation

c.       expressed the discontent of the upper class

d.       was the first organized protest against slavery in the colonies

e.       was a great victory for the agrarian interests


32. The following leaders were all prominent among the leaders at the Constitutional Convention of 1787 EXCEPT

a.       Thomas Jefferson

b.       Ben Franklin

c.       James Madison

d.       Gouvernor Morris

e.       George Washington


33. The Connecticut Compromise resolved the controversy at the Constitutional Convention involving

a.       the method of choosing a president

b.       the regulation of interstate commerce

c.       representation in Congress

d.       the protection of the institution of slavery

e.       ratification of the Constitution


34. One purpose of the Electoral College was to

a.       ensure that only qualified candidates would run for the presidency

b.       ensure an independent executive branch

c.       promote democracy

d.       provide for a direct method of choosing the chief executive

e.       give the small states and equal voice in choosing the president


35. The stated purpose of the delegates to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 was to

a.       write a new plan for government

b.       eliminate the growth of the institution of slavery

c.       raise more money by taxing exports

d.       construct a more democratic form of government

e.       reform the Articles of Confederation


36. Congress under the Articles of Confederation

a.       could require the states to provide financial support

b.       represented the interests of the individual states

c.       could conscript individuals for military service

d.       was dominated by a strong chief executive

e.       forcefully dealt with Shays’ Rebellion


37. James Madison’s Federalist 10 articulated the belief of the Founding Fathers that the Constitution would

a.       lead to a tyranny of the majority

b.       promote the growth of political parties

c.       control the effects of factions

d.       allow the states to maintain their preeminence

e.       lead to a tyranny of the minority


38. A major concern of the Anti-Federalists involved

a.       their desire to strengthen the central government

b.       their fear that the states would maintain their dominance under the new government

c.       their fear that foreign governments would try to overpower the new nation

d.       their belief that a strong chief executive was necessary

e.       their desire to see a bill of rights guaranteeing individual protections added to the Constitution


Answer Key

17. E                 18. D                 19. D                 20.E                  21. C                 22. E


23. C                 24. B                 25. C                 26. D                 27. B                 28. E


29. A                 30. D                 31. B                 32. A                 33. C                 34. B


35. E                 36. B                 37. C                 38. E



The Constitution


39. British documents such as the Magna Carta, the Petition of Right, and the Bill of Rights

a.       stressed the supremacy of the monarch

b.       advanced the concept of limited government

c.       were written by John Locke

d.       were rejected by the Founding Fathers

e.       were rejected by the British Parliament


40. Under a federal system of government, all of the following are TRUE EXCEPT

a.       local matters are largely handled on a local level

b.       national matters are the responsibility of the federal government

c.       federal and state governments have powers that sometimes overlap

d.       in cases where powers are in conflict, the state government is supreme

e.       in cases where powers are in conflict, the national government is supreme


41.The system under which each branch can limit the actions of the other branches is called

a.  separation of powers             b. checks and balances               c. federalism

d. limited government                 e. representative government


42. The opening words of the Constitution, “We the people”, express the fundamental principle of

a.  popular sovereignty               b. rule of law                             c. constitutionalism

d. federalism                             e. the republicanism


43. The section of the Constitution that clearly states the concept of federalism is

a. Article I                                 B. Article II                                c. Article III

d. the 10th Amendment              e. the Preamble


44. Under the system of checks and balances, all of the following are allowed EXCEPT

a.       the Senate’s refusal to approve the president’s appointment of a justice to the Supreme Court

b.       the Senate’s refusal to ratify a treaty negotiated by the president and his foreign policy advisors

c.       the Senate’s dismissal of a Cabinet member accused of accepting bribes

d.       the president’s lobbying for a new crime bill to be passed in Congress

e.       the Supreme Court’s ruling that an executive order is unconstitutional


45. Which of the following describes the system of checks and balances and separation of powers?

I.                    It does not favor the party in power

II.                  It can create gridlock

III.                It can make change easy to come by

IV.                It can encourage political controversy

a.       II only

b.       I and II only

c.       II and III only

d.       I, II, and III only

e.       II and IV only


46. The Constitution’s writers carefully drafted a document that would create

a.       strong states and a weak central government

b.       weakened power in the state and national government

c.       the ability to adapt to changing times

d.       a dominant national government with no active participation from the states

e.       an equal distribution of power between the states and national governments


47. Which of the following governmental bodies is most directly responsible to the electorate?

a. the House of Representatives               b. the Senate                 c. the executive branch

d. the Supreme Court                             e. the bureaucracy


48. The question of the constitutionality of state-imposed term limits of legislators is based on which of the following arguments?

a.       the state’s ability to set time and manner of elections for state office holders

b.       the fact that the Constitution sets the qualifications for Congressmen

c.       the ability of the people to vote directly for senators and representatives

d.       the ability of voters to create term limits for state office holders

e.       the fact that the Congress is scheduled to vote for a term limits amendment to the Constitution


49. The practice of judicial review was first established by which of the following actions?

a.       the Constitution gives life terms to Supreme Court Justices

b.       Justices serve as long as they maintain good behavior

c.       The Supreme Court exercises judicial precedent

d.       The Supreme Court has appellate jurisdiction

e.       The Supreme Court can declare a congressional act unconstitutional


50. Which of the following resulted after the Supreme Court made a ruling in Baker v Carr?

a.       The principle of “one man, one vote” was established

b.       Congressional districts became gerrymandered based on political considerations

c.       Congressional districts were created as a result of racial considerations

d.       State legislatures modified existing voting districts for state offices

e.       Congress was able to modify congressional districts in states where there was not equal representation


51. All of the following are considered enumerated powers of Congress EXCEPT

a.       coining United States currency after the Constitution was ratified

b.       establishing inferior courts in addition to the Supreme Court

c.       setting up the first National Bank of the U.S.

d.       establishing uniform immigration laws in the 1920’s

e.       regulating commerce among the several states


52. The implied powers clause in the Constitution has been describes as the ability of Congress to take which of the following actions?

a.       pass an assault weapons ban

b.       withdraw funds allocated to troops in Haiti

c.       pass a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution

d.       raise the price of stamps to 32 cents

e.       passing a law setting quotas for immigrants


53. In addition to the stated powers of the president, which of the following roles does he take on?

a.       acting as titular head of his political party

b.       granting pardons

c.       making treaties

d.       giving a State of the Union address

e.       signing or vetoing legislation


54. Which of the following is the only stated constitutional responsibility of the vice president?

a.       attending funerals of foreign dignitaries

b.       taking on special tasks assigned by the president

c.       presiding over the Senate

d.       filling in for the president when he is out of the country

e.       presiding over the House of Representatives


55. All of the following represent examples of limited government EXCEPT

a.       the application of habeas corpus in criminal appeals

b.       the prohibition of passage of bills of attainder laws

c.       Congress not being allowed to pass ex post facto laws

d.       The inability of the president to grant titles of nobility

e.       The Reserved Power Clause of the 10th Amendment


56. All of the following represent examples of checks and balances EXCEPT

a.       the 35 successful vetoes made by President Bush

b.       the Senate rejection of the League of Nations

c.       the Supreme Court ruling the Flag Desecration Act unconstitutional

d.       Congress passing the Crime Bill after a conference committee made changes

e.       Congress invoking the provisions of the War Powers Act


57. Which of the following actions increases the power of the president?

a.       a greater reliance on the states to solve problems

b.       a greater reliance on the federal government to solve problems

c.       the president having to work with a majority party in Congress different from his own

d.       an increased investigative role by the media

e.       the downsizing of the federal bureaucracy


58. The appointment of Supreme Court Justices in the 1980’s was characterized by

a.       quick approval by the Senate of nominees

b.       rejection of the majority of appointees

c.       limited background checks of the nominees

d.       limited input from legal associations and special interest groups

e.       bitter confirmation battles over personal and philosophical positions of the nominees



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