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Guide to the AP Macroeconomics Exam

Feb 23, 2022

Studying economics in high school with the goal of taking the AP Macroeconomics exam and/or Microeconomics exam for college credit or placement into advanced coursework in college necessitates an understanding of the subject’s basic premise and language. 

Overview of AP Macroeconomics

Advanced Placement Macroeconomics is an introductory college-level macroeconomics course. In this course, students learn the basic principles. Students can easily apply these


principles to economic structure. These principles and concepts can define financial circumstances. It helps in simplifying the outcomes by using charts, graphs, and data. The AP macroeconomics exam helps the students to understand concepts such as economic measurements, financial sectors, macroeconomic models, and macroeconomic policies.

Course Framework Components of AP Macroeconomics Exam

This article gives a clear and complete summary of the necessary preparation required for AP macroeconomics exam performance. The course framework is comprised of two critical components:


1. Course Skill

These are the fundamental skills that you should practice in economics. You should practice and use your skills and abilities regularly throughout the course.

Principles and ModelsInterpretationsManipulationsGraphics and Visual
Define Economic concepts and principlesExplain the following economic outcomes.Determine the results of many economic situationsDesign economic models using graphs or visual representations.
1.1  Explain economic ideas, principles, or models.2.1 What actions should be taken to attain a specific economic outcome, by using economic concepts and principles.3.1 Using economic concepts, principles, or models, determine the result of an economic scenario.4.1 Create a properly labeled graph or visual representation of an economic model or market.
1.2 Classify an economic principle, concept, or model with the help of an example.2.2 Use quantitative facts or calculations to interpret a specific economic condition.3.2 Calculate the impact of one or more changes on other economic marketplaces.4.2 Use a correctly labeled graph to show your comprehension of a specific economic scenario.
1.3 Use statistical data or calculations, to identify an economic principle, concept, or model.2.3 Explain how a given economic outcome occurs. What measures should be taken to achieve a specific economic outcome using economic concepts, principles, or models?3.3 Using quantitative data or computations, evaluate the effect(s) of a change in an economic condition.4.3 Use a labeled graph or visual to show the impact of a change in an economic scenario.
1.4 Compare and contrast the common characteristics, distinctions, and constraints of economic concepts, principles, or models.

2. Course Content

The course content is systematically arranged into units. These are regularly taught in the proposed order for the course. These units include theoretical and conceptual topics. Universities and colleges normally expect students to give their best, to receive college credit and scholarships. This curriculum is based on grand ideas, which are interlinked concepts. These help students gain conceptual knowledge and a complete go-through of the course.


The course content is divided into six generally taught units. The units have been organized in the logical sequence recommended below:

Unit 1: Basic Economic Concepts5 – 10%
Unit 2: The Economic Indicators and Business Cycle12 – 17%
Unit 3: National Income and Price Determination17 – 27%
Unit 4: Financial Sector18 – 23%
Unit 5: Long-Run Consequences of Stabilization Policies20 – 30%
Unit 6: Open Economy—International Trade and Finance10 – 13%

These grand ideas lay down the course’s foundation. They allow the students to make meaningful connections between subjects and build deeper theoretical understanding. Ultimately helping them in the AP macroeconomics exam.

  • Grand Idea 1: Economic Metrics
  • Grand Idea 2: Markets
  • Grand Idea 3: Macroeconomic Models
  • Grand Idea 4: Macroeconomic Policies

AP Macroeconomics Exam Structure

The AP Macroeconomics Exam assesses students’ understanding of the course frameworks. The total duration of the AP Macroeconomics exam 2021 was 2 hours and 10 minutes. It was divided into two sections: multiple-choice and free-response.

Format Of AP Macroeconomics Exam 

1Multiple Choice Questions6066.65%70 minutes
2Free Response Question

  • Ques 1: Long (10 points)
  • Ques 2 & 3: Short (5 points each)
333.35%60 minutes (including the 10-minute reading period)

Main features of the Multiple Choice Questions:

  • Across the range of course topics, the AP Macroeconomics exam tests your knowledge of various economics contents and reasoning.
  • Some questions are based on certain hypothetical situations.

Main features of the Free Response Questions (FRQ):

  • 1 long open-ended question (50 percent of section score, or 10 points).
  • 2 short open-ended questions (each worth 25 percent of section score, or 5 points each).
  • Questions require you to assess various situations using various course ideas. Many of the topics you’ve studied during the course will be expected to be combined.
  • Some free-response questions necessitate graphical analysis, mathematical computations, or both. You must demonstrate all of your efforts whenever you conduct a calculation!

Guidelines for the AP Macroeconomics exam

When writing the FRQ, consider three crucial skills: 

  • Use your vocabulary
  • Use your visualizations
  • Use your mathematics. 

Look for similar keywords in the FRQ part of the AP Macroeconomics exam. Some keywords direct you by stating what your grader will be looking for, which includes –


Calculate: Apply your math skills! It is necessary to use mathematical equations to show your understanding of how these concepts work. Previous years’ AP Macroeconomics exams require you to calculate many elements. These include the money multiplier, the tax multiplier, the expenditure multiplier, opportunity costs, real GDP, nominal GDP, the GDP deflator, the CPI, the rate of unemployment, and the labor participation rate, among many other things. This would help you clarify whenever you see the word calculate.

Draw and demonstrate: Use graphical models and diagrams to depict a condition. Such as the current economic situation and how that situation might evolve. For instance, you might be requested to draw a graph showing slowdown or an inflation gap using an AD-AS model or the Phillips curve model. Note that a graph depicts the relationship among variables; thus, you must choose proper labels. If you are provided specific values or notation in the question, use them and do it appropriately.

Explain or describe: These words need you to describe or analyze the results and events to illustrate economic principles and models. If you are asked to elaborate on your result, don’t assume that you can get some score by simply stating the result in yes or no. You can score only by giving a proper justification for the answer in AP Macroeconomics Exam.

Sample Question of AP Macroeconomics Exam

Multiple-Choice Question (Sample Question)

The graph represents the production possibilities curve for a small municipality that has constructed parks and sports complexes. Which of the following park-and-sport complex combinations is impossible for the available resources?

sport complex

(A) Five parks and six sports complex

(B) Five parks and eight sports complex

(C) Ten parks and six sports complex

(D) Fifteen parks and a four-sport complex

(E) Twenty parks and a four-sport complex

Answer to the question: (E) 

[Use the concept of Production Possibility Curve]

Free-Response Question (Sample Question)

Imagine that an economy is in long-run equilibrium. Imagine that customers want to save less money because they use credit cards more regularly than cash to buy goods and services.

(a) Create a properly labeled graph of the money market. Demonstrate the effect of decreasing money holdings on the equilibrium nominal interest rate in the short run.

(b) Given the interest rate change in item (a), what will happen to each of the following in the short run?

(i) Bond prices previously issued 

(ii) Bond prices previously issued  Explain.

(c) With a fixed money supply, will the velocity of money rise, decrease, or remain constant, or is the change undetermined, depending on your response to part b(i)?

(d) What open market operation would the central bank employ to reverse the interest rate change stated in paragraph (a)?

Answer to the question:

Quantity of money & Normal interest rate

(a) 2 points:

One point is awarded for accurately labeling a money market graph.

One point is awarded for demonstrating a shift to the left in the money demand curve, which results in a lower nominal interest rate.

(b) 2 points: 

Earn one point for predicting that the price of previously issued bonds would rise. 

One point is for indicating that both the price level and real income would rise. Also, detailing how the lower interest rate will boost consumption, investment, and net exports hence increasing aggregate demand.

(c) 1 point: 

One point is awarded for predicting a rise in the velocity of money.

(d) 1 point: 

Earn one point for indicating that the central bank would sell bonds.

AP Macroeconomics Exam: What is the minimum required score for college credit? 

Depending on your AP score, you may receive college credit, advanced placement, or both. Certain courses can be skipped if you have advanced placement.

A minimum score of 3-5 is required to earn college credits or advanced placement. A minimum passing score of 3 was required for 1,451 of the 1,999 colleges listed by the College Board. Some colleges may also require higher scores if the credit fulfills a student’s major course requirement. A few colleges do not give AP exam credits.

ap macroeconomics exam


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