Is AP Macroeconomics easy or hard? We reveal the AP Macro difficulty rating, based on a unique combination of 2021 pass rate data, and 2,627 class reviews from real AP alumnae collected by r/APStudents.

Is AP Macroeconomics Easy Or Hard?

AP Macroeconomics is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.4/10 for overall difficulty (the 20th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed).

The pass rate is slightly lower than other AP classes, with 52% graduating with a 3 or higher.

AP Macro is quite widely-taken (112,644 entries last year), and 86% would recommend the class, which is very slightly lower than other AP classes.

Is AP Macroeconomics Easy or Hard – Difficulty Rating

AP Macro alumnae reviewers found the class enjoyable, easy and had a large focus on memorization and graphs.

You can see how AP Macroeconomics compares to other classes for difficulty in the below chart:

AP Macroeceonomics difficulty

We’ve highlighted AP Macro and related economics classes (Microeconomics) only – to see the full version of this chart, check out our article ranking ALL the AP classes from easy to hard.

You can read more about AP Microeconomics here.

How Difficult Is AP Macro – As Rated By Class Alumnae

AP Macroeconomics is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.4/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 20th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

AP Macro difficulty

What Is the AP Macroeconomics Pass Rate 2021?

The AP Macro 2021 pass rate was 52%, slightly lower than the all-AP average.

The percentage of candidates attaining a 4 or 5 was about average, and the percentage of students who passed with a 3 was almost half the average at just 14%. Double the average number of students received a 1 (32%), the largest group of candidates.

AP Macro pass rate

AP Macro Pass Rate / Score Distribution Over Time: 2021, 2020, 2019…

The AP Macroeconomics score distribution did not vary significantly between 2017 and 2020, with a slight increase in passing grades in 2020 (to 63%). The pass rate then fell 11% in 2021.

Is AP Macroeconomics Time Consuming To Study: As Rated By AP Macro Alumnae

AP Macro is rated as very low study time required relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for time needed to study each class, with 1 = least time needed, 10 = most time. The average rating for AP Macroeconomics was 3.8/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.3/10).

Is AP Macro Easy or Hard To Self-Study

AP Macroeconomics is rated as quite easy to self-study relative to other AP classes.

A survey of AP alumnae asked for a rating out of 10 for how easy each class is to self study, with 1 = easiest to self study, 10 = hardest to self study. The average rating for AP Macroeconomics was 4.6/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.7/10).

How Hard Is AP Macroeconomics: 22 Real AP Macro Alumnae Share Their Experiences

If you’re looking forward to taking AP Macro, it’s important to take both the positive and negative feedback in context. There are multiple factors that could contribute to a great or poor experience of the class, such as a particularly weak teacher and your personal preferences as a learner.

86% of AP Macroeconomics alumnae would recommend the class, which is slightly lower than other classes.

AP Macro alumnae reviews focus on course enjoyment and difficulty, the practicalities of self-studying, and the importance of memorization and graphs for exam success.

1.      Many students found AP Macro easy and enjoyable

“This class has some tough concepts, but is easy and a lot of fun when you understand them 10/10 would recommend.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

“This class was ridiculously easy for me. It’s mostly just memorization and knowing how to use graphs.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

2.      However, a minority struggled with the class

“DO NOT take this course online. My online class taught me very few things that were relevant to the test. By the time I realized this it was too late and I had 24 hrs to review. Obviously it didn’t work out for me. Don’t underestimate this class.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 1

3.      Students found the exam required knowledge of the rubric, careful FRQ answers and lots of graphs

“On the FRQs your first answer tends to affect the following parts of the FRQ so make sure your first answer is correct” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 4

“Make sure you know what all the graphs are – that’s 75% at least of the test. Like what the axes are labeled and what points on the graph mean and stuff. If you know the graphs well and use common sense, it should be pretty easy to get at least a 4. I barely knew anything (that’s how it felt at least) but by some good guessing and trying to use common sense I squeaked out a three.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 3

Know the graphs and what shifts them and you should be fine. Check past FRQ scoring guidelines.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

“Make sure to know all the graphs going into the test! There’s tons of free study materials online (khan academy, acdc econ / jacob clifford), so take advantage of them. Practice past FRQs and understand the FRQ grading rubric.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

What Does It Take To Succeed: How To Study For The AP Macro Exam

What is AP Macroeconomics? Course Outline & Requirements

According to College Board:

The AP Microeconomics course introduces students to “the principles that apply to an economic system as a whole. The course places particular emphasis on the study of national income and price-level determination.”

There are no prerequisites for AP Macro, and students should be able to read college-level textbooks.

The course is often taken in tandem with AP Microeconomics.

Each course “corresponds to one semester of a typical introductory college course in economics”. Whereas AP Macro focuses on economic systems as whole, AP Micro “focuses on the principles of economics that apply to the functions of individual decision-makers”.

You will develop skills in:

  • Developing economic models and principles
  • Explaining and determining economic outcomes from specific situations
  • Visualizing economic situations using graphs and visual representations

The exam consists of one 2 hour 10 minute exam, with 66.65% (70 minutes) given to 60 multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and 33.35% (60 minutes) given to three free-response questions.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Macroeconomics course page.

Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From AP Macroeconomics Test Assessors

College Board released the following official comments about the 2021 exam results:

  • “As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.”
  • “AP Macroeconomics students demonstrated solid mastery of Unit 2, Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle. 15% of students earned a perfect score on the group of questions about this unit. And students’ understanding of Unit 1, Basic Economic Concepts, is unsurprisingly strong.”
  • “The most challenging unit for students was Unit 4, Financial Sector. 18% of students answered most or all of these questions correctly, and 21% of students answered most or all of these questions incorrectly.”

For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time in Unit 4 “Financial Sector”.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Macroeconomics 2021 exam results page.

How To (Self) Study AP Macro: Advice From Class Alumnae

It’s important to practice past tests if you want to succeed

“Try to review previous FRQs and MC from prior exams, the questions are really similar from year to year.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

Just take practice tests, there are only so many macro questions that CB can ask.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

“ACDC economics was a great resource for a review. Also, review FRQ’s from previous years for good practice as the questions are similar year to year.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

There are some great (online) resources available!

“Really loved the AP Macroeconomics Review book, it’s just 400 multiple choice questions w/answers and explanations. Watched the ACDC review livestream the night before the exam and that was really helpful. I also looked over my past tests to prep for the exam, so if your teacher gives those back to you, don’t throw them away.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

“ACDC Econ is a lifesaver for this class. I had a really good teacher but he explained stuff better and faster than my teacher ever could. Even if you have a bad teacher you could still do well if you watch his videos.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

“Watch the ACDC Macro videos on youtube and if you understand them, you should pass; it was the easiest AP exam I’ve taken” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 5

“Know the graphs and how they shift. Use a review book+ ACDC economics YouTube channel and you should be ok.” – AP Macroeconomics Score: 4

Best books and test prep resources for AP Macroeconomics

The most popular textbook for test prep and review for AP Macro is Barron’s, used by 39% of students. It has an average rating of 4.7/5.0 from reviewers on Amazon.com.

Bear in mind that several of the test prep textbooks for Micro encompass both Microeconomics and its sister class Macroeconomics.

Other popular AP Micro test prep / review books and resources for include:

Where next?

Find out how AP Macroeconomics compares to other classes: click here for an overview of all AP Classes ranked by difficulty, from easiest to hardest.

Or check out how other economics courses are rated with our analysis of Is AP Microeconomics Hard or Easy?

Wishing you every success in the class!


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