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Kaplan AP Macroeconomics/Microeconomics 2006
By Cynthia Johnson
KaplanCopyright © 2005 Cynthia Johnson
All right reserved.
Chapter One: Inside the AP Economics Exams
Chapter One: Inside the AP Economics Exams
- Overview of the Exam Structure
- How the Exams Are Scored
- Registration and Fees
- Additional Resources
If you are reading this, chances are that you're already in (or thinking about taking) an Advanced Placement (AP) Economics course. If you score high enough on the exams, many universities will give you three hours of credit (one class) in a related introductory economics course (you can get three hours of credit for each AP exam -- three for Microeconomics and three for Macroeconomics).
Depending on the college, a score of 4 or 5 on one or both of the AP Economics exams will allow you to leap over the freshman intro course and jump right into more advanced classes. These classes are usually smaller in size, better focused, more intellectually stimulating, and simply put, more interesting than a basic course. If you are solely concerned about fulfilling your social science requirement so you can get on with your study of Elizabethan music or French literature, AP exams can help you there, too. Ace one or both of the AP Economics exams and, depending on the requirements of the college you choose, you may never have to take a social science class again.
If you're currently taking an AP Economics course, chances are that your teacher has spent the year cramming your head full of the economics know-how you will need for the exams. But there is more to the AP Economics exams than know-how. If you want your score to reflect your abilities, you will have to be able to work around the challenges and pitfalls of the tests. Studying economics and preparing for the AP Economics exams are not the same thing. Rereading your textbook is always helpful, but it's not enough.
That's where this book comes in. We'll show you how to marshal your knowledge of economics and put it to brilliant use on Test Day. We'll explain the ins and outs of the test structure and question format so you won't experience any nasty surprises. We'll even give you answering strategies designed specifically for the AP Economics exams.
Preparing yourself effectively for the AP Economics exams means doing some extra work. You need to review your text and master the material in this book. Is the extra push worth it? If you have any doubts, think of all the interesting things you could be doing in college instead of taking an intro course filled with facts you already know.
Advanced Placement exams have been around for a half of a century. While the format and content have changed over the years, the basic goal of the AP Program remains the same: to give high school students a chance to earn college credit or placement in more advanced college courses. To do this, a student needs to do two things:
1. Find a college that accepts AP scores
2. Do well enough on the exams to place out of required subjects
The first part is easy, since a majority of colleges accept AP scores in some form or another. The second part requires a little more effort. If you have worked diligently all year in your coursework, you've laid the groundwork. The next step is familiarizing yourself with the test itself.
As you may know, there are actually two AP Economics exams: AP Macroeconomics and AP Microeconomics. Each exam is 2 hours and 10 minutes long, each exam is graded separately, and each is worth a one-semester college introductory course. A single fee covers both exams, which are administered consecutively on the assigned examination day. You are not required to take both exams. One exam is usually given in the morning and one in the afternoon, so you won't have to sit through the exam you are not taking. Choose the exam for which you have prepared and studied.
Overview Of The Exam Structure
The Educational Testing Service (ETS) -- the company that creates the AP exams -- releases a list of the topics covered on each exam. They even provide the percentage amount that each topic appears on a given exam. Check out the breakdown of topics of the AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics exams below.
I. Basic Macroeconomics Concepts (8-12%)
A. Scarcity, choice, and opportunity costs
B. Production possibilities curve
C. Comparative advantage, specialization, and exchange
D. Supply, demand, and market equilibrium
E. Macroeconomic issues: business cycle, unemployment, inflation, growth
II. Measurement of Economic Performance (12-16%)
A. National income accounts
B. Inflation measurement and adjustment
III. National Income and Price Determination (10-15%)
A. Aggregate demand
B. Aggregate supply
C. Macroeconomic equilibrium
IV. Financial Sector (15-20%)
A. Money, banking, and financial markets
B. Central bank and control of the money supply
V. Inflation, Unemployment, and Stabilization Policies (20-30%)
A. Fiscal and monetary policies
B. Inflation and unemployment
VI. Economic Growth and Productivity (5-10%)
A. Investment in human capital
B. Investment in physical capital
C. Research and development, and technological progress
D. Growth policy
VII. Open Economy: International Trade and Finance (10-15%)
A. Balance of payments accounts
B. Foreign exchange markets
C. Net exports and capital flows
D. Links to financial and goods markets
I. Basic Microeconomics Concepts (8-14%)
A. Scarcity, choice, and opportunity cost
B. Production possibilities curve
C. Comparative advantage, specialization, and trade
D. Economic systems
E. Property rights and the role of incentives
F. Marginal analysis
II. The Nature and Functions of Product Markets (50-70%)
A. Supply and demand
B. Theory of consumer choice
C. Production and costs
D. Firm behavior and market structure
III. Factor Markets (10-18%)
A. Derived factor demand
B. Marginal revenue product
C. Labor market and firms' hiring of labor
D. Market distribution of income
IV. Market Failure and the Role of Government (12-18%)
B. Public goods
C. Public policy to promote competition
D. Income distribution
How the Exams are Scored
Each AP Economics exam is 2 hours and 10 minutes long and consists of two parts: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. In Section I, you have 70 minutes to answer 60 multiple-choice questions, each of which has five possible answers. This section is worth 67% of your total score.
After this section is completed, you get a 10-minute "reading period." This is not a break or a chance to brush up on your economics knowledge. Instead, you get 10 minutes to pore over Section II of the exam, which consists of three "free-response" questions that are worth 33% of your grade. The term "free-response" means roughly the same thing as "large, multi-step, and involved," since you will spend 50 minutes of Section II answering these three problems. Although these free-response problems are long and often broken down into multiple parts, they are not trying to trip you up or confuse you. Instead they take a fairly basic economic concept and ask you a set of related questions about it. These questions frequently test your ability to see relationships and linkages among different economic processes, costs, and principles.
The first free-response question will require you to connect diverse topic categories and is the longest of the three. You will want to use about half the allotted time (25 minutes) on this question. The remaining two problems usually only relate to one topic or category and should be split evenly with the remaining time of about 12 minutes each.
When your 130 minutes of testing are up, your exam is sent away for grading. The multiple-choice part is handled by a machine, while qualified graders -- called "readers" -- grade your responses to Section II. The group of readers is made up of current AP economics teachers and college professors of principles-level economics. After a seemingly interminable wait, your composite score will arrive. Your results will be placed into one of the following categories, reported on a five-point scale.
5 Extremely well qualified (to receive college credit or advanced placement)
4 Well qualified
2 Possibly qualified
1 No recommendation
Some colleges will give you college credit for a score of 3 or higher, but it's much safer to score a 4 or a 5. If you have an idea of which colleges you might attend, check out their websites or call their admissions offices to find out their particular criteria regarding AP scores.
Registration and Fees
You can register for the exams by contacting your guidance counselor or AP coordinator. If your school doesn't administer the exam, contact AP Services for a listing of schools in your area that do.
At the time of printing, the fee for each AP exam is $82 (but you only have to pay once to take both economics exams). For students with financial need, a $22 reduction is available. To learn about other sources of financial aid, contact your AP coordinator.
For more information on all things AP, visit collegeboard.com or contact AP Services:
P.O. Box 6671
Princeton, NJ 08541-6671
Phone: 609-771-7300 or 888-225-5427 (toll-free in the U.S. and Canada)
Copyright © 2006 by Anaxos, Inc.
Excerpted from Kaplan AP Macroeconomics/Microeconomics 2006 by Cynthia Johnson Copyright © 2005 by Cynthia Johnson. Excerpted by permission.
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