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AP Macroeconomics Exam: Tips for Short Free-Response Questions

Instructor: Shelby Golden
The AP Macroeconomics exam includes two short free-response questions (in addition to one long one) to be answered within 60 minutes of testing time. Learn about some strategies you can use to successfully answer these short free-response questions and master this section of the exam.

Tips for Answering AP Macroeconomics Short Free-Response Questions

The College Board suggests taking 25 minutes of the allotted 60-minute testing time to answer both short free-response questions. That leaves you with about 12 minutes apiece, so learning how to make the most of your time is crucial. Check out the tips below to learn how to avoid some common pitfalls that can waste valuable testing time or result in point deductions.

Develop a Plan

You'll have a 10-minute reading period included in the testing time, and you should use it to plan. That way, when it's time to answer, you have a pretty good idea of what you want to write. Additionally, you get to choose the order you answer these questions, so consider answering the one you're most comfortable with first.

Read the Question Thoroughly

Don't make the mistake of answering a question that you weren't really asked. You also need to make sure you're answering the question completely. Some of these questions require you to draw a graph. You must do this, or you won't get full credit for your work, even if your answer is correct.

Double-Check Your Accuracy

There are a lot of terms to keep track of in this exam. Make sure you're using them properly in your answers. Go through and double-check to make sure you didn't write down GDP when you meant national income, or narrow money when you meant broad money.

Accuracy also applies to any graphs you might be required to draw. You need to make sure that the person who grades your responses can understand what you're trying to convey with your graph. Be sure to label your axes, curves and changes in curves. You can increase your confidence with graphs by studying this lesson on using and analyzing graphs to support an essay.

Provide Complete Answers

Often, these questions have parts that are labeled. To stay organized and ensure you answer all parts, it helps to label your answers in the same way the question was labeled. For instance, if your question includes parts a, b, c, d and e, then your answer should be broken down into parts a, b, c, d and e.

You also need to make sure you support your answers to these questions. Don't just state that the prices increased or decreased, even if that's the right answer. Make sure you explain why this happened and how you came to your solution. Find even more suggestions for how to get your essay down on paper with this lesson on how to write a great essay quickly.

Additional Study Resources

Get more information about what you should (or shouldn't!) do while working on the rest of this exam with this lesson on general tips for taking the AP exam. You can also explore additional lessons in the AP Macroeconomics exam prep course to review the concepts you'll be tested on in your essays.

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