Published February 16, 2024

Everything You Need to get a 5 on AP Comparative Government and Politics


Natasha Potter

MSU Alumni, Creative Advertising Major, Marketing Associate at Knowt 😃

This guide has got you covered with some awesome strategies and AP Comparative Government test tips to teach you how to ace the AP Gov exam and score that 5! I'll break down all the tricks and resources you need to excel on the test. So, get ready to conquer the AP Comparative Government exam with the right approach and the best AP Government exam tips.

Free AP Comparative Government and Politics Resources

Don't fret if you find yourself cramming for the AP Comparative Government and politics exam at the last minute – it's a situation many of us can relate to! So, no need to panic; you've got this! If you're seeking guidance on how to pass the AP Government exam with limited time, we're here to support you. Take a look at these incredibly useful tips created by fellow students for last-minute cramming for the AP Government exam, along with resources specifically designed to help you study effectively. With these tools at your disposal, you'll excel in that exam!

What Do I Need to Memorize for the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam?

Alright, let's break down what the AP Comparative Government course is all about! It's designed to teach you the skills that political scientists use. Throughout the course, you'll dive into five big ideas that serve as the guiding principles:

  1. Power and Authority

  2. Legitimacy and Stability

  3. Democratization

  4. Internal/External Forces

  5. Methods of Political Analysis

When it's time for the AP Comparative Government exam, you'll get to showcase your mastery of these skills by tackling questions that require you to apply concepts, analyze data, compare countries, and present political science arguments.

The course content and skills are neatly divided into five units of study. Rest assured, you'll be tested on content from all five units during the AP Comparative Government exam. To feel more prepared and confident on exam day, make sure you're familiar with what each unit covers and how much weight each topic carries in your overall exam score so you’ll know how to prepare for the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam. You've got this!

What is on the AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam?


Percentage of Exam Weight 


Unit 1: Political Systems, Regimes, and Government


  • Political Systems: Regimes, states, nations, and governments.

  • Democracy and Authoritarianism: A comparison of governance forms.

  • Power Acquisition and Loss: How governments gain, keep, or lose power.

  • Stability Factors: Elements influencing government stability.

  • Data Collection and Utilization: How political scientists use data.

Unit 2: Political Institutions


  • Government Systems: Parliamentary, presidential, and semi-presidential.

  • Executive Institutions: Presidents, prime ministers, and cabinets.

  • Legislative Systems: Congressional or parliamentary.

  • Judicial Systems: Judges and courts.

Unit 3: Political Culture and Participation


  • Sources of citizens' political attitudes and beliefs

  • Political ideologies: Individualism, communism, and fascism

  • Citizen political participation and its impact

  • Civil rights and civil liberties

  • Social divisions and their consequences within a country

Unit 4: Party and Electoral Systems and Citizen Organizations


  • Electoral systems and election rules

  • Political party systems

  • Impact of social movements and interest groups on political change

Unit 5: Political and Economic Changes and DevelopmentUnit 5: Political and Economic Changes and Development


  • Political responses to global market forces

  • Effects of economic liberalization policies

  • Adaptation of social policies to address political, cultural, and economic changes

  • Impacts of rapid industrialization

  • Causes and effects of demographic changes

AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam Format

The AP Comparative Government and Politics exam is all about testing your understanding of basic political concepts and your skills in comparing different political systems and processes in various countries.

Now, don't worry, this AP exam won't take up too much of your time. It's just two hours and 30 minutes in total. During the exam, you'll have to tackle 55 multiple-choice questions and four free-response questions.

Here's how it's structured: Section I covers those 55 multiple-choice questions and lasts for one hour, making up half of your overall exam score.

Then we have Section II, which lasts for one hour and 30 minutes. In this section, you'll be facing four free-response questions, where you get to provide detailed written responses. This part also counts for the other 50% of your overall exam score.

So, you've got this! Take a deep breath, do your best, remember the tips for the AP Comparative Gov exam, and show off your political expertise on exam day! Good luck!

What does the AP Comparative Government MCQ look like?

Section 1: Multiple Choice

55 questions, 1hr,  50% of Score

So, in the multiple-choice section, you'll come across both single questions and question sets. They mainly revolve around the core countries of the course, like China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom. Your tasks will include describing, explaining, and comparing political concepts and processes. You'll also get to compare political concepts and processes among these countries. Oh, and keep an eye out for data analysis from graphs, charts, tables, maps, or infographics.

Alright, let's break down how they assess each skill in the multiple-choice section of the exam:

  • Around 40-55% of the questions will test your knack for applying political concepts and processes in both made-up scenarios and real-world situations.

  • Roughly 25-32% of the questions will be all about comparing the political concepts and processes of China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

  • About 10-16% of the questions will have you analyzing and interpreting quantitative data presented in tables, charts, graphs, maps, and infographics.

  • And finally, around 9-11% of the questions will assess your ability to read, analyze, and interpret text-based sources.

That's the scoop! Know where your strengths lie and go ace that multiple-choice section! You got this!

What does the AP Comparative Government FRQ look like?

Section 2: Free Response

4 questions, 1hr 30mins,  50% of Score

Alright, in the free-response section, you'll be dealing with four questions that need written answers. Here's what you can expect:

  1. Conceptual analysis question: You'll define or describe a political concept and maybe do some comparisons between political systems, principles, institutions, processes, politics, or behaviors.

  2. Quantitative analysis question: This one's all about data. You'll be analyzing it to spot patterns and trends and draw a conclusion based on that.

  3. Comparative analysis question: Get ready to compare political concepts, systems, institutions, processes, or politics in two of the course countries.

  4. Argument essay: Time to write an evidence-based essay backing up a claim or thesis.

Have fun with these, and make your answers shine! You got this!

When do AP Comparative Government and Politics scores come out?

The AP Comparative Government and Politics scores are set to come out mid-July. If you want to stay updated or check for any changes, you can refer to the official CollegeBoard Annual calendar. Keep an eye out, and good luck with your results!

Should I Self Study AP Comparative Government and Politics?

AP Comparative Government is a difficult exam to take, and by utilizing these AP Comparative Government exam tips, tricks, and resources, you should understand how to study for the AP Gov exam. 

Tip 1: Start with a Practice Exam - A good way to kickstart your AP exam prep is to take a practice exam. It helps you figure out your strengths and weaknesses, so you can focus on improving where you need it most. Make sure to time yourself just like on the real exam to get a feel for the pacing. Review your results, note the tough areas, and target them in your study plan for better scores!

Tip 2: Create Your Own Cram Sheet - Get those study materials and AP Comparative Government exam tips ready! Making your own AP Comparative Government cram sheet is a fantastic way to review and organize the course material. Customize it with concepts and questions from class, practice exams, and official rubrics. Whether you memorize it or use it as a study guide, it's tailored to your needs.

Tip 3: Practice Free-Response Questions - Don't shy away from free-response questions; they can be tricky! Practice with past official questions and any your teacher provides. Stick to the time limit and use official rubrics to evaluate your responses. It'll get you ready for what to expect on exam day!

Tip 4: Take Another Practice Exam - As you approach exam day, take another practice exam to see your progress. Compare it to your first one to gauge improvement. Use the results to fine-tune your study focus and boost your confidence. Knowing what to expect can help you rock that AP Comparative Government exam! You got this!

Is the AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam Hard?

So, here's the deal: AP Comparative Government and Politics is often considered a bit easier than AP U.S. Government and Politics.

Let's talk numbers for a sec: In May 2021, the AP US Government and Politics exam had a pass rate of 50.4%, making it one of the toughest AP courses out there. It's got a lower-than-average rate of perfect scores compared to other AP exams.

On the flip side, AP Comparative Government and Politics has a higher-than-average pass rate and a pretty average rate of perfect scores. But, you know what? It really depends on the individual. Different students find different courses difficult, and knowing the best way to study for the AP Comparative Government exam makes a vast difference, so it's not easy to predict which one you'll find tougher.

So, don't stress too much about it. Whatever course you choose, just give it your best shot and know that you've got this! Good luck!

Explaining the 2023 AP Comparative Government and Politics Scores

So, before you dive into the AP Comparative Government exam, it's essential to know how they'll score your responses. Don't worry; we've got you covered!

First off, you've got two main sections:

Section I: Multiple-choice: This part has 55 questions and makes up 50% of your overall score.

Section II: Free-response: Here, you'll be dealing with four questions, also making up the other 50% of your overall score. Each question has its own value, like the Conceptual Analysis is worth 11%, Quantitative Analysis and Comparative Analysis are both 12.5%, and the Argument Essay is 14%.

For the multiple-choice section, you get a point for each correct answer, with a maximum of 55 points. And hey, the best part is, you won't lose any points for wrong answers, so take your shot!

Now, onto the free-response section. Each question has its specific raw point value: Conceptual Analysis is 4 points, and Quantitative Analysis, Comparative Analysis, and Argument Essay are 5 points each. That adds up to 19 raw points in total.

But wait, don't worry about small mistakes in grammar or punctuation in your free-response answers. You won't lose points for those as long as your responses are clear and understandable. Just try not to make any major blunders, like incorrect definitions or flawed reasoning.

In the end, you can earn a total of 74 raw points on the exam, with 55 points from multiple-choice and 19 points from the free-response section.

Then, the College Board will convert your raw score into a scaled score ranging from 1 to 5. So when you get your score report, it'll show that scaled score, and that's the one that really matters.

You've got this! Go show 'em what you've got on that AP Comparative Government exam! Good luck!

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