What you need to know!


College Board Tips

Do not restate the question. (Remember, you must restate them on the AP GOPO.)

Use correct terminology.
For example, money and income are often confused, or aggregate demand will be labeled "D," and discussed as though it were the market demand for a particular product. Learn and use the correct language of macroeconomics.

If the question requires you to draw a graph, you must do so to receive full credit.
Even if a graph is not required, it may be to your advantage to draw one anyway. Often students use the wrong economic terminology, but clearly indicate they understand what is happening by using a correct graph. On the other hand, graphs are not magical tools that ensure high scores; they are useful tools in making arguments, but they don't stand alone. It is important that the story they tell is explained.

Label graphs clearly, correctly, and fully.
Points are lost when readers can't figure out what you're trying to explain with a graph that isn't labeled correctly. Take particular care to label each axis and to identify each curve on the graph. Changes in curves should be indicated clearly with arrows or with some clear sequencing, such as showing a change in aggregate supply with AS and AS' or AS1 and AS2.

Use the same outline numbers or letters from the question in your answer, and answer them in the same order.
This helps the faculty consultant know where to look for specific answers to specific parts of the question. It also helps you remember to include all parts of the question in your answer.

Many free-response questions are divided into parts such as (a), (b), (c), and (d), with each part calling for a different response. Credit for each of these parts is awarded independently, so you should attempt to answer them all. If the answer to a later part of a question depends on the answer to an earlier part, you may still be able to receive full credit for the later part, even if the earlier answer is wrong. For example, you may receive no credit for your answer to part (a), but still receive full credit for parts (b), (c), and (d), as long as these answers are logically consistent with the answer to part (a).

The different parts of the free-response questions are presented in a logical manner; answer the parts in the order that they are asked.

Emphasize the line of reasoning that generated your answer.
If you make an assertion such as "the price increased," explain why the price increased.

Use the 10-minute reading period to plan your answer.
Then you will have 50 minutes to answer all three questions in the free-response segment. Spend approximately half the time (25 minutes) on the long question and divide the remaining time between the other two questions.

Remember that you may answer the questions in any order.
For instance, you may wish to answer the question you feel most confident about first. However, be sure to indicate clearly in your answer booklet which question you are answering.

Don't bring a calculator to the exam.
Calculators are not allowed. Problems appearing in the exams usually require only basic math skills, so practice solving such problems without the use of calculators.

How to succeed on the AP Economics FRQ - Macro Question 1
How to succeed on the AP Economics FRQs - Macro Questions 2 and 3


Improving Scores on Free Response Question

  • Carefully read the question from start to finish
  • Answer the question in order asked
  • Be succinct. No fluff. Do not restate the question
  • Use graphs (label everything correctly)
  • Do not make assertions without explanations
  • Know and tell the story of policy transmission mechanisms
  • Understand the effects of fiscal policy on interest rates
  • Know the difference between fluctuations in GDP and long term economic growth
  • Understand the relationship of fiscal policy and monetary policy to international economics (net export effect)
  • Understand the difference between real and nominal numbers

Areas of Continuing Error

  • Graphing and labeling
  • Assertions without explanations
  • Long run answers when short run answers are expected
  • Confusion between money and income
  • Failure to link a change in investment with investment with anything other than a change in AD
  • Misinterpreting how a change in domestic interest rates affect a nation’s currency
  • Understanding the difference between monetary and fiscal policies
  • Failure to understand the difference between nominal and real rates
  • Problems with international trade questions
  • Incomplete linkages
  • Assuming that an increase in GDP is always evidence of economic growth
  • Spending too much time on differences in Monetarist and Keynesian thought


AP Macroeconomics Review - Every Graph You Need To Know For The Exam!