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AP : Micro Vs Macro Economics – Should I Take Both?

Dec 6, 2022
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Confused about whether to take microeconomics vs macroeconomics class? Even though the names are similar, these two AP classes cover very different concepts, and there may be one better suited for you than the other. But how to decide? Don’t worry! We are here to help you. This article will provide you with all the information regarding the two classes so that you will be more confident about your choice. 

What are the main differences between Macroeconomics and Microeconomics?

Before we start the debate on microeconomics vs macroeconomics class, let us first look at the basic differences between these two areas of economics.

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On a fundamental level, macroeconomics deals with the behavior of governments and countries, whereas microeconomics deals with the behavior of businesses and individuals. There is a way to remember this easily. “Macro” means “large,” and macroeconomics deals with the behavior of governments and countries, which are larger entities than businesses and individuals (the focus of microeconomics). 

Both areas of economics are important as they are both required to get a complete idea of how the economy functions as a whole. Neither area is less important than the other. 

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What are the differences between AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics?

Now that you are aware of how the two areas of economics— micro and macro differ from each other, let us find out how they impact the two AP classes. We will analyze these aspects of the classes— the course material, the exam, and the overall difficulty level to find the differences and similarities between the two AP classes and to find the answer to the question, “is AP microeconomics easy”.

Course material

How do the micro ap and AP Macroeconomics courses differ from each other? As you can see below, each course is categorized into six main units.

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AP Macroeconomics

  • Basic Concepts of Economics
  • National Income and Price Determination
  • The Business Cycle and Economic Indicators
  • Long-Run Consequences of Stabilization Policies
  • Financial Sector
  • Open Economy–International Trade and Finance

AP Microeconomics

  • Basic Concepts of Economics
  • Cost, Production, and the Perfect Competition Model
  • Supply and Demand
  • Factor Markets
  • Imperfect Competition
  • Market Failure and the Role of Government

The first thing you must have noticed is that both the courses begin with a unit of basic concepts of economics. This means that you can take any of the classes first, as both of those covers the basics of economics that you need to know at the beginning of the course itself. 

As we move further into the courses, we observe that they cover the fundamental topics of macroeconomics and microeconomics that we discussed in the previous section. In AP Macroeconomics, you will learn about large-scale topics like national income, financial sector, business cycles, and international trade. What is AP microeconomics? In micro AP, on the other hand, the course will focus on smaller-scale topics such as production and costs, supply and demand, markets, and perfect and imperfect competition.

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So is AP microeconomics easy? Considering the skills students should learn during the classes, both Microeconomics and Macroeconomics had the same four skills listed as given below:

  • Elaborate on the given economic outcome 
  • Define economic models and principles
  • Determine the outcomes of certain economic situations
  • Model economic situations with visual representations or graphical representations

As the four skills required for both courses are the same, you can expect a significant amount of the course structure to be similar, even though the topics involved are different. The modeling and analysis of different economic situations are highly emphasized skills in both courses.

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AP exam structure

Both the AP exams are structured in the same way. There is a multiple-choice question section at the beginning of both exams that contains 60 questions and lasts for about 70 minutes. The second section for both exams is the free-response section. It consists of three questions (two short free-response questions and one long free-response question) and lasts one hour. The free-response section constitutes 33% of your total AP score, while the multiple-choice section is worth 66%.

Because the format of both the AP exams is identical, it is hard to base your decision on which class to take on this factor. If you, however, decide on taking both AP economics classes, you will already have a good idea of what to expect until it’s time to take your second AP economics exam.

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Difficulty level

Let us look at some statistical data on each of the AP exams to get an idea of the difficulty level. The 2021 AP score statistics for each exam are given below. Not the percentage of students who scored 1-5. 

AP Macroeconomics

AP Score54321
Percentage Receiving Score18.4%23.0%16.5%17.0%23.8%

AP Microeconomics

AP Score54321
Percentage Receiving Score17.9%19.5%13.6%15.6%32.8%

What does this data indicate? What is the AP microeconomics passing rate? We observe that the students scored almost similarly on both exams, with micro ap having slightly higher scores. One way to evaluate difficulty is by comparing the percentage of students who scored the highest score, five on each exam. The five rates of AP Microeconomics and Macroeconomics are almost the same (18.4% and 17.9%). 

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Another measure is by comparing the passing rates of both exams, that is, the percentage of students who scored three or more). AP Macroeconomics has a pass rate of around 51%, while for AP Micro it is 59%. Therefore, the passing rate of AP Micro was slightly higher than AP Macro, but the difference is not hugely significant. 

We find that there is not much difference in the difficulty levels of the two AP economics areas based on the AP exam results. The overall verdict, therefore, is that AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics seem to be of almost the same difficulty level. Which one a student finds easier depends on their interests. 

From the three areas we evaluated, it is clear that the main difference between AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics is in terms of the topics covered in their courses. The format of the course, course difficulty, exam format, and difficulty are approximately the same. 

Which course is right for me? Should I take both?

So which course should you take? As already concluded, the AP course material difficulty and exam formats for both macroeconomics and microeconomics are very identical, so making a decision based on these factors is a bit challenging. Additionally, the courses are viewed equally by the colleges, with neither one being inherently “better” than the other. 

What it all boils down to is which area of economics interests you more. Micro and macroeconomics involve significantly different topics, of which there might be one area you find more interesting compared to the other. Both areas of economics can help build a better career in many ways, although it is believed that microeconomics is relevant to a slightly larger number of fields. But then again, which one you would like to make a career in should be a personal decision. 

You can ask your seniors about their views on both the courses too to get more information. The same teachers usually teach both AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics. But if there are two different teachers with different passing rates and reputations, this could be a significant factor in your decisions. 

What if you decide to take both AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics? It is possible unless you have the interest and adequate space in your schedule. Then comes the question of which one to take first. There is no hard and fast rule for that either. You should take the one first that fits your schedule better, or you can even take both of them simultaneously. 

Conclusion

As you can see, both the Macroeconomics and Microeconomic courses are very similar in terms of their course difficulty level and exam passing rates. Go for the one that appeals to you. After all, you can only excel in something when you are interested in it. 

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What are some common topics of microeconomics?

A. Some common topics of microeconomics are given below:

  • Consume choice theory, externalities, and wage determination
  • Supply and demand in individual markets
  • A guide on making investment decisions
  • Using a bottom-up approach to look at the economics

2. What are some common topics of macroeconomics?

A. Some common topics that macroeconomics focuses on are given below:

  • The overall nature and course of the economy
  • Causes of unemployment and inflation
  • International globalization and trade
  • Using a top-down approach to look at the economy
  • A guide on using economics to craft fiscal policy

3. What are some AP Microeconomics exam tips?

  • Take a ten-minute planning break before starting to write the exam.
  • Use graphs wisely.
  • Label your graphs correctly and fully.
  • Use appropriate terminology.

4. What are the easiest AP exams?

A. According to the statistics, Studio Art 2D Design, Studio Art Drawing, Japanese Language, and Calculus BC are some of the easiest AP exams.

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