Unit 1 (15-22%): Foundations of American Democracy
AP Gov Unit 1 focuses on 3 concepts: democracy and its types, the battle between the Articles of Confederation and the Constitution, and what Federalism is and its forms. As it’s the foundation (pun not intended) of the rest of the course, it’s important to understand these 94 terms.
Best Quizlet Deck: AP Gov Unit 1 by bryce_s
A daunting number, trust me I know 😅. Luckily there are some key terms you can focus on learning before getting to the rest of them. These ones are vital to the rest of the course and difficult to learn in comparison to the others.
- 🌳State of Nature:Basically the time before governments and society. Complete freedom occurs, which is both good, as yay freedom, but also bad, as no government can protect you.
- 📰Articles of Confederation: The first constitution of the United States, focused on preserving the individual states’ power. It was replaced because it led to the inability of the federal government to do things like collect taxes and regulate trade.
- Constitutional Convention: The meeting of state delegates in 1787 to design a new constitution. Lots of compromises occurred, such as the Great Compromise and the Three-Fifths Compromise.
- Federalist #10: Written by James Madison as Publius, it argues for diversity as a way to safeguard liberty. Specifically in creating a number of factions that will prevent a tyranny of the majority and mob rule.
- Federalist #51: Also written by James Madison as Publius, it argues for the separation of powers within the federal government. This is to keep one faction from amassing power and creating a tyranny of the minority.
- 💲Fiscal Federalism: A type of federalism focused on the power of the federal government through money. Specifically, their means of manipulating states by allocating the budget and grants.
- New Federalism: A move towards the devolution of federal power to the states, basically taking power from the federal government and giving it to the states.
Unit 2 (25-36%): Interactions Among Branches of Government
Unit 2 focuses on another 3 topics: the 3 branches of government, how they function, and how they interact with each other. So the legislative, executive, and judicial branches, what they do, and their interactions with each other.
Best Quizlet Deck:Unit 2 – AP Gov by k8te13
Now a recommendation, don’t try and memorize these. Instead, use these to test your knowledge of how a branch functions and its interactions with the other branches. I’ll present some key elements you should know from unit 2 so you can study those better.
- 📄Legislative branch: Used to create and pass laws. Made up of 2 parts, the House and the Senate, with 435 and 100 voting members respectively. Know how a bill is created and flows through these two bodies on its way to become a law. Know the types of committees and some of the major ones, like the House Ways and Means Committee.
- Executive Branch: Used to enforce the laws of the legislative branch. Know the different roles and powers of the president. Review the bureaucracy and its organization from the president to different departments and agencies.
- 🔍Judicial Branch: Used to review the laws of the legislative branch. Know that judicial review was established after the constitution was ratified.
- ✔️Checks and Balances: How do the different branches of government interact with each other? Know the triangle of how the legislative, executive, and judicial branches interact. Look at vetoes and how they’re overruled, for an example of one interaction.
Unit 3 (13%-18%): Civil Liberties and Civil Rights
Unit 3 is where the amendments really come into play, especially the ones on civil rights. The bill of rights, due process, various social movements, and the Supreme Court cases will be major topics. These 38 different cards will allow you to better memorize important court cases and amendments.
Best Quizlet Deck:AP Gov – Civil Liberties and Rights by Sandy_Midgley
There are some key terms you’ll want to know, covering court cases, clauses, and amendments.
- 14th Amendment: Due Process Clause: Extremely important, makes sure that people, both citizens and non-citizens, cannot be deprived of their rights without due process, or proper usage of law.
- ⛪ Establishment Clause: The government cannot favor one religion over another. The Lemon test determines if the government is promoting any religion.
- 13th, 14th, and 15th:amendments: Remember in this order, slavery is gone and so slaves are free, all people born or naturalized in the United States are citizens, all male citizens of voting age can vote.
- 🏫Brown v. Board of Education: Overruled Plessy v. Ferguson, separate but equal is not actually equal. All public schools are desegregated.
Unit 4 (10%-15%): American Political Ideologies and Beliefs
Unit 4 deals with ideologies and how we measure them. It deals with the Democratic and Republican parties and their ideologies. These 44 terms will help you understand the various aspects of this unit, especially polling.
Best Quizlet Deck: AP GOV Unit 4 by MARGARET_CYLKOWSKI
Even though this is a shorter section, you’ll really want to know the different types of polling and how they work.
- Scientific Polling: Polls that are precise and reliable. They use random sampling in order to get accurate data.
- 🎲Random Sample: A way of sampling where every member of a population has a chance of being polled.
- 🎉Political Parties: The two main ones in the United States are the Democrats and Republicans. The Democrats generally support more social spending with less regulation on personal freedom. The Republicans generally support less social spending but more limitations on personal freedom.
- Economic Policies: Keynesian and Supply-side are two main ones. Keynesian uses government spending to stimulate the economy, used in the New Deal. Supply-side, or trickle-down, cuts taxes and regulations in order to grow the economy, used by Reagan.
Unit 5 (20-27%): Political Participation
Unit 5 is all about voting and covers lots of topics–how we vote, political parties, political campaigns, and the media. These 70 terms will help you learn all these different topics.
Best Quizlet Deck: AP Government - Political Participation by Carpenter-Economics
This section is quite a bit larger than the others, so I’ll help focus down what you need to learn.
- 🗳️Voting Styles: Rational choice, retrospective, prospective, and clothespin voting are the 4 styles. They stand for, respectively, individual best interest, liking a candidate’s past actions, liking a candidate’s promises and ideas, and voting for the lesser evil.
- ✊Political Efficacy: Efficacy is not exactly a word used often, so remember it like this. Efficacy sounds kind of like efficiency, which stands for the ability to get something done, and efficacy stands for your belief that what you do can affect things. So political efficiency would be an ability to get governmental actions done, and political efficacy would be the belief that you can change something in government.
- Differences betweenprimaries and caucuses: Primaries, open where anyone can vote and closed where only party members can, have people vote on which candidate they want. Caucuses also have voting, but people discuss and vote on candidates at meetings.
- 🤑527 organizations: Seeing as it’s hard to remember a number, think of them this way. 527 has to do with numbers, just like the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), as they deal with money. Now, what does that number mean? It means that they raise and spend money on political candidates, and so are tax-exempt.
✍️ Need practice writing AP US Gov free-response questions? Here are all of AP GOPO’spast free-response question prompts.