Are AP US Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics easy or hard? We reveal their difficulty ratings, based on a unique combination of 2021 pass rate data, and 2,627 class reviews from real AP alumnae collected by r/APStudents.

Are AP US Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics Easy Or Hard?

AP US Government and Politics

AP United States Government and Politics is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.4/10 for overall difficulty (the 19th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed).

The pass rate is lower than other AP classes, with 49% graduating with a 3 or higher.

AP US Government is very widely-taken (260,941 entries last year), and 97% would recommend the class.

Is AP US Government and Politics Easy or Hard – Difficulty Rating

AP Comparative Government and Politics

The smaller AP Comparative Government and Politics course is also considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.2/10 for overall difficulty (the 22nd-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed).

The pass rate is higher than other AP classes, with 72% graduating with a 3 or higher.

AP Comparative Government is a very small class (17,750 entries last year), and 91% would recommend the class.

Is AP Comparative Government and Politics Easy or Hard – Difficulty Rating

AP US Gov and Comp Gov alumnae found the courses easy and enjoyable, and their reviews focus on the importance of solid knowlege of current affairs.

You can see how APs US Government and Comp Government compare to other classes for difficulty in the below chart:

AP Government difficulty

We’ve highlighted AP US Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics only – to see the full version of this chart, check out our article ranking ALL the AP classes from easy to hard.

How Difficult Are APs US Government and Comparative Government – As Rated By Class Alumnae

AP US Government is considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.4/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 19th-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed.

AP Comparative Government is also considered quite easy, with class alumnae rating it 4.2/10 for overall difficulty, making it the 22nd-most-difficult out of the 28 large AP classes surveyed. #

AP US Government and AP Comparative Government difficulty

What Are the AP Government Pass Rates 2021?

The AP US Government and Politics 2021 pass rate was 49%, lower than other AP classes. Only 11% of students achieved a 4 or a 5, both significantly lower than the all-AP class average. In contrast, a high percentage of students received a 1 (23%) and 2 (27%).

The AP Comparative Government and Politics 2021 pass rate was higher than the all-AP average, at 72%. The highest percentage of candidates passed with a 3 (31%), 5% above the average. 24% of students achieved a 4, also above average, and 17% attained a 5.

AP US Gov and AP Comp Gov pass rates

AP US Gov and AP Comp Gov Pass Rates / Score Distribution Over Time: 2021, 2020, 2019…

AP US Government and Politics

The AP US Government score distribution varied slightly between 2017 and 2020, with the pass rate improving from 50% to 56%. 2021 saw a drop of 7% to just 49%, the lowest pass rate of the five year period.

AP Comparative Government and Politics

The AP Comparative Government score distribution has varied somewhat over the past 5 years of exams, with 2017 and 2021 candidates achieving the highest pass rates of 70% and 72% respectively.

Are APs US Government and Comparative Government Time Consuming To Study: As Rated By AP Gov Alumnae

APs US Government and Comparative Government are both rated as quite 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 US Government was 4.7/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.3/10). The average rating for AP Comparative Government was 4.5/10.

Are APs US Gov and Comp Gov Easy or Hard To Self-Study

AP US Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics are both 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 US Government and Politics was 4.5/10 (vs the average across all AP classes of 5.7/10). The average rating for AP Comparative Government was 4/10.

How Hard Are APs US Government and Comparative Government: 95 Real AP Government Alumnae Share Their Experiences

If you’re looking forward to taking one or both of AP US Gov and Comp Gov, 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 your teacher and your personal preferences as a learner.

An impressive 97% of AP US Government, and 91% of AP Comparative Government alumnae would recommend the class.

The majority of the reviews focus on course enjoyment, the importance of strong knowledge of current affairs and legislature, helpful study tips.

1.      Many students found APs US Gov and Comp Gov easy and enjoyable

“I took this as my first AP class. … Used basic knowledge on the exam and got a 3. Honestly, super easy. You could probably just read a prep book like Princeton Review and pass.” – AP Comp Gov Score: 3

“You literally don’t have to study for this exam—it’s that easy. If you understand the news, you will pass.” – AP US Gov Score: 3

“AP comp gov was my first AP class (freshmen year), and I honestly struggled for the first quarter, but by the second quarter I got used to it, and overall it was super easy all it is really is just memorizing basic facts of government, and comparing it to other laws and policies in other countries. Second semester all we did was compare politics from other countries and compare it to America’s government. (it’s basically AP World, but with a focus on government)” – AP Comp Gov Score: 4

“It is pretty easy basic government knowledge. For me, the FRQs were the hardest part if anything and the multiple choice was pretty easy. However, I know they are doing a redesign for the 2019 exams where they are moving towards the structure of APUSH/AP world with an argument essay, more analyzing, and document based questions so it might become harder.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

“If you like politics and whatnot this is a very easy test to self study for. Be sure to know the court cases and foundational documents really well and everything else should not be too bad. … I also took this class without any years of US History prior, so I had to self study a basic knowledge of US History to help me out.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

2.      Students found having a strong knowledge of current events really helpful

Stay up to date with current events. The truly difficult part of the test is the free-response questions (there are 8 or so), and reading current events will allow you to better answer the information. Also, it is US Comparative Government, so whenever you read about a country, don’t just focus on the individual aspects. Focus on the difference between the country and the other countries that you have learned about.” – AP Comp Gov Score: 5

“Make sure you know the structure of each government and current events. I reccommend knowing about the economy of the country as well, especially in regards to oil.” – AP Comp Gov Score: 5

“Study the legislatures especially, and also, remember the dates for presidency’s. (these are plentiful in being asked)” – AP Comp Gov Score: 3

“The most important thing to study is the committees. These are what led to my downfall, due to the sometimes confusing nature of these.” – AP US Gov Score: 2

Memorize all the key concepts related to structure of us gov, supreme court cases, and the three branches of the govt.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

3.      There’s a lot of memorizing involved for AP US Gov (especially court cases)

“Just cause the court case is recent doesn’t mean it wont be on the exam. KNOW YOUR COURT CASES!! ALL OF THEM!!” – AP US Gov Score: 4

“Memorizing the supreme court cases was surprisingly important.” – AP US Gov Score: 4

“This course is memorization heavy. As long as you study like, a week in advance, you should do fine. Also, STUDY THE COURT CASES!!” – AP US Gov Score: 5

Know your court cases in and out, those help a lot for the SCOTUS. And, read a lot of the news, it may seem not worthy of a time studying, but it definetly helps.” – AP US Gov Score: 4

“Self studied, it was really interesting.” – AP Comp Gov Score: 4

“I literally self studied for 4 days and got a 5…. was kinda expecting a 3…. if you’re taking US Gov and not taking this one…. I HIGHLY recommend self studying or taking this one” – AP Comp Gov Score: 5

“Self studied at teacher recommendation after taking honors civics. Super easy if you love politics, I watched the CSPAN cram for the exam show (the Saturday before each year, online as well) and watched YT the night before. Easiest test ever if you are into politics and government. 10/10” – AP US Gov Score: 5

“Self studied; I just read the course. It will be harder this year with the new changes, so may not be as good to self study now.” – AP US Gov Score: 5 (pre-2019)

“Self studied it the week before, vocabulary is very important.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

What Does It Take To Succeed: The AP US Government and Politics Exam

What is AP United States Government and Politics? Course Outline & Requirements

According to College Board:

“AP U.S. Government and Politics provides a college-level, nonpartisan introduction to key political concepts, ideas, institutions, policies, interactions, roles, and behaviors that characterize the constitutional system and political culture of the United States.”

There are no prerequisites for AP US Gov, and students are expected to read college-level textbooks.

You will develop skills in:

  • Applying political concepts to contextual scenarios
  • Analyzing and interpreting quantitative data from graphs and infographics
  • Applying Supreme Court decisions
  • Interpreting foundational documents and other sources
  • Developing arguments in essay format

The exam consists of one 3-hour exam, with 50% (80 minutes) for four sets of multiple-choice questions (MCQs). The remaining 50% (100 minutes) is for four free-response questions (Concept Application, Quantitative Analysis, SCOTUS Comparison, Argument Essay).

For more details, see: College Board’s AP US Government and Politics course page.

Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From AP US Government and Politics Test Assessors

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

Multiple choice section

  • “As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.”
  • “AP U.S. Government students scored well and evenly across every unit of the course, but earned especially high scores on Unit 4, American Political Ideologies and Beliefs. 31% of students earned perfect scores across questions about Unit 4.”
  • “Students scored especially well across questions about Big Idea 2 (Liberty and Order), Big Idea 3 (Civic Participation in a Representative Democracy), and Big Idea 5 (Methods of Political Analysis).”
  • “Big Idea 4 (Competing Policy-Making Interests) was the most challenging. 9% of students were able to answer all or most of these questions correctly.”
  • “Students’ strongest skill in the multiple-choice section was SCOTUS application. 27% of students earned a perfect score across all SCOTUS application multiple-choice questions.”
  • “Students were slightly less proficient at source analysis than they were at data analysis and SCOTUS application. That said, 19% of students earned most or all of the source analysis points, and scores in this category were overall very good.”

Free response section (set 2)

  • “The highest performance in the Set 2 free-response section was on Q2, the quantitative analysis of votes and seats won. 18% of students earned all 4 points possible on this question.”
  • “Students also generally scored well on the “Taylor Swift” question; 25% of students earned all 3 points possible.”
  • “The lowest performance within this year’s AP US Government Set 2 questions was Q3, the SCOTUS comparison of Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) and Betts v. Brady (1942).”

For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time on source analysis and SCOTUS application and comparison. You should also focus on Big Idea 4 “Competing Policy-Making Interests”.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP US Government and Politics 2021 exam results page.

What Does It Take To Succeed: The AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam

What is AP Comparative Government and Politics? Course Outline & Requirements

According to College Board:

“AP Comparative Government and Politics introduces students to the rich diversity of political life outside the United States. The course uses a comparative approach to examine the political structures; policies; and political, economic, and social challenges of six selected countries.”

There are no prerequisites for AP US Gov, and students are expected to read college-level textbooks.

You will develop skills in:

  • Applying political concepts in authentic contexts
  • Comparing political concepts among the course countries
  • Analyzing and interpreting quantitative data from graphs and infographics
  • Interpreting and analyzing text-based source
  • Developing arguments in essay format

The exam consists of one 2 hour 30 minute exam, with 50% (80 minutes) of multiple-choice questions (MCQs) and  50% (100 minutes) is for four free-response questions.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Comparative Government and Politics course page.

Examiners’ Reviews: Takeaways From AP Comparative Government and Politics Test Assessors

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

Multiple choice section

  • “As usual, students scored significantly higher on the multiple-choice section than on the free-response questions.”
  • “AP Comparative Government and Politics students demonstrated stellar mastery of Unit 3, Political Culture and Participation: 24% of students earned a perfect score across questions about this unit, and an additional 27% of students only missed a single point. Student mastery of Unit 1 (Political Systems, Regimes, and Governments) and Unit 5 (Political and Economic Changes and Development) was nearly as strong.”
  • “While students scored well across all units, the most challenging, with somewhat lower scores, was Unit 4, Party and Electoral Systems and Citizen Organizations. 10% of students earned perfect scores on this unit.”
  • “Data Analysis: Students demonstrated strongest skills in this area, with 39% answering all of these questions correctly, and less than 25% of students missing more than 1 point.”

Free response section (set 2)

  • “The highest performance was on Q2, the quantitative analysis of political freedom rankings. 4% of students earned all 5 points possible on this question, and 32% earned 4 of 5 points.”
  • “The lowest performance on this year’s exam was Q1, about the rule of law. 12% of students earned perfect scores, while 38% of students earned 0.”
  • “The comparative analysis of social movements, Q3, proved challenging for some students. 10% earned all 5 points possible, while 18% earned 0 points.).”

For best results, you may therefore want to consider investing a little extra study time on Unit 4 “Party and Electoral Systems and Citizen Organizations”, the rule of law, and comparative analysis (skill 2).

source analysis and SCOTUS application and comparison. You should also focus on Big Idea 4 “Competing Policy-Making Interests”.

For more details, see: College Board’s AP Comparative Government and Politics 2021 exam results page.

How To (Self) Study for AP Government Exams: Advice From Class Alumnae

AP US Gov is a vocab-heavy courses – learn and practice with mock exams!

“Learn the vocabulary, and take mock exams.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

Take past exams! Collegeboard likes to repeat questions for this exam often so using past questions is great review!” – AP US Gov Score: 5

“Make sure you know the content and vocabulary.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

“Make sure you know your documents, cases, and a ton of vocab. The test itself is pretty easy.”- AP US Gov Score: 5

Success in AP Government often comes down to preparation and dedication!

“You need to do three things 1 do the work, 2 memorize acts and vocabulary, 3 understand the history of politics and its evolution, 4 ask questions.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

“Just make sure you stay on top of your work and spend a little bit of time reviewing everyday. have at least some basic general knowledge of government and politics beforehand’ – AP US Gov Score: 5

“In the new version, CB released a pdf that has all the required primary docs and supreme court cases that are pretty much guaranteed to show up in the MCQs or FRQs, so make sure you know those! Understand how the LEQs are graded so you know how to hit all the points. If you like politics, watching “West Wing” can help put a storyline to all the gov terms.” – AP US Gov Score: 5

Take your time to memorize the documents/court cases and understand all the different FRQ types and you’ll do fine. This class kicked my ass at first but if you put in time you’ll get a good score” – AP US Gov Score: 5

Best books and test prep resources for AP US Government

The most popular textbook for test prep and review for AP US Gov is Princeton Review, used by 34% of students. It has an average rating of 4.5/5.0 from reviewers on Amazon.com.

Best AP US Government Textbooks for Prep & Review

Other popular AP US Government test prep / review books and resources include:

If you’re looking for test prep and review textbooks for AP Comparative Government…

Only a small percentage of AP Comp Gov students use (and recommend) a textbook. The two most recommended resources are:

Where next?

Find out how AP US Government and Politics and AP Comparative Government and Politics compare to other classes: click here for an overview of all AP Classes ranked by difficulty, from easiest to hardest.

Wishing you every success in the class!


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