How to Approach the Multiple-Choice Questions on the AP US Government and Politics Exam (page 2)
What Should I Expect in Section I?
For this first section of the U.S. Government and Politics exam, you are allotted 45 minutes to answer 60 objective questions. These are questions that any student in any introductory government and politics class might know. It is not expected that everyone will know the answer to every question; however, you should try to answer as many questions as you can. The AP U.S. Government and Politics questions always have five answer choices. Points are given for every correct answer and partial points (one-fourth) are deducted for every incorrect answer. No points are given or deducted for blank answers.
How Should I Begin to Work with Section I?
Take a quick look at the entire multiple-choice section. This brief skimming of the test will put your mind at ease because you will be more aware of the test and what is expected in Section I. Do not spend too much time skimming. Remember, this is a timed exam.
How Should I Proceed Through This Section of the Exam?
Always maintain an awareness of the time. Wear a watch. (Some students like to put it directly in from of them on the desk.) Remember, this will not be your first encounter with the multiple-choice section of the test. You’ve probably been practicing timed exams in class; in addition, this book provides you with four experiences.
Work at a pace that is comfortable. Every question is worth the same number of points, so don’t get bogged down on one or two questions. Don’t panic if you do not know the answer to a question. Remember, others taking the exam might not know it either. There has to be a bar that determines the 5s and 4s for this exam. Just do your best.
Reading the questions and answer choices carefully is a must. Read the entire question. Don’t try to guess what the question is asking; read the question. Read all the answer choices. Don’t jump at the first answer choice. Pay attention to key terms or negative statements, such as, which of the following is NOT; all of the following EXCEPT.
Types of Multiple-Choice Questions
Multiple-choice questions are not written randomly. There are certain general formats you will encounter.
Is the Structure the Same for All of the Multiple-Choice Questions?
No. There are several basic patterns that the AP test makers employ. Some questions may involve general identification, while others may depend on analysis.
1. The straightforward question may involve defining terms or making a generalization.
2. The negative question might include “all of the following except” and requires extra time because it demands that you consider every possibility.
3. The multiple multiple-choice question uses Roman numerals to list several possible correct answers. You must choose which answer or combinations of answers is correct.
4. The stimulus-based question involves interpreting a chart, graph, table, quote, etc. to determine the answer.
Strategies for Answering the Multiple-Choice Questions
You probably have been answering multiple-choice questions most of your academic life, and you’ve probably figured out ways to deal with them. However, there may be some points you have not considered that will be helpful for this particular exam.
- Work in order. This is a good approach for several reasons:
- — It’s clear.
- — You will not lose your place on the scan sheet.
- —There may be a logic to working sequentially that will help you answer previous questions. But this is your call. If you are more comfortable moving around the exam, do so.
- Write on the exam booklet. Mark it up. Make it yours. Interact with the test.
- Pace yourself and watch your time. Don’t spend too much time on one question so that you run out of time and don’t complete questions you might know, but which appear later in the exam. Don’t rush. There are no bonus points for finishing early.
- Don’t be misled by the length or appearance of a question or of answer choices. There is no correlation between length or appearance and the difficulty of the questions.
- Read the questions and answer choices carefully. Make note of key terms such as NOT or EXCEPT.
- Consider all the choices in a given question. This will keep you from jumping to false conclusions. It helps you slow down and really consider all possibilities. You may find that your first choice is not the BEST or most appropriate choice.
- Remember that all parts of an answer must be correct for the answer to be correct.
- Process of elimination. This is your primary tool, except for direct knowledge of the answer.
- 1. Read the five choices.
- 2. If no choice immediately strikes you as correct, you can
- — eliminate those that are obviously wrong
- — eliminate those choices that are too narrow or too broad
- — eliminate illogical choices
- — eliminate answers that are synonymous (identical)
- — eliminate answers that cancel each other out
- 3. If two answers are close, do one or the other of the following: — Find the one that is general enough to cover all aspects of the question. — Find the one that is limited enough to be the detail the question is looking for.
- Educated guess. You have a wealth of skills and knowledge. A question or choice may trigger your memory. This may form the basis of your educated guess. Have confidence to use the educated guess as a valid technique. Trust your own resources.
Scoring the Multiple-Choice Section
How Does the Scoring of the Multiple-Choice Section Work?
The multiple-choice section of the exam is taken on a scan sheet. The sheet is run through a computer that counts the number of wrong answers and subtracts a fraction of that score from the number of correct answers. The AP U.S. Government and Politics questions have five choices; the fraction deducted for a wrong answer is one-fourth of a point. The formula for the calculation looks like this:
Number right - (number wrong X .25) = raw score rounded up or down to nearest whole number
Let’s say you just took the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam. You answered 55 of the 60 questions, leaving 5 questions blank. After your multiple-choice section was scored, you got 47 questions correct and 8 questions incorrect. Your raw score for the multiplechoice section would be determined like this:
47 correct - (8 wrong X .25) = 45 Section I Raw Score
This score would then be added to the free-response score for a composite score on the exam. The composite score would be equated to an AP score of 5, 4, 3, 2, or 1.
If I Don’t Know the Answer, Should I Guess?
Effective with the 2011 AP exam, points on the multiple choice section of the test are no longer deducted for incorrect answers. Therefore, it is to your advantage to guess on every question when you are not sure of the correct answer.
The Time Is at Hand
It is now time to try Section I of a second diagnostic exam. Do this entire section in one sitting. Time yourself. Be honest with yourself when scoring your answers.
Note: If the 45 minutes passes before you finish all the questions, stop where you are and score what you have done up to this point. Afterward, answer the remaining questions, but do not count the answers as part of your score. When you have completed all the multiplechoice questions in this diagnostic exam, carefully read the explanations of the answers. Assess which types of questions give you trouble. Use this book to learn from your mistakes.
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