Review for Gov. AP Exam

Obviously, one review sheet cannot possibly cover everything you need to know in order to coast through the AP exam. Your main study guide should be your NOTEBOOK. There are, however, certain essential terms and concepts you should know like the back of your hand. They are:

Constitutional Foundations: (Ch 1, 3, 4)


limited government

pluralist theory

elite theory

majoritarian government

weaknesses of theArticles of Confederation

how to amend the Constitution - formal and informal

separation of powers - executive, legislative and judicial powers are divided among three separate branches of government

checks and balances - the three branches also have overlapping powers that allow each to check the power of the other two

judicial review (Marbury v. Madison)

federalism - power is divided between the national government and state governments

dual federalism

layer cake federalism

marble cake federalism

cooperative federalism

revenue sharing

categorical grants

block grants

judicial review

Bill of Rights

elastic ("necessary and proper") clause

supremacy clause - federal laws take precedence over state and local laws

enumerated powers - powers listed in the Constitution

implied powers - not listed in the Constitution but based on "necessary and proper" clause, for example, the power to collect taxes implied the power to establish the Internal Revenue Service, the draft to raise an army, the creation of the Federal Reserve to regulate the money supply, creating the Interstate Commerce Commission to regulate commerce between the states

inherent powers

reserved powers - powers that belong to the states

original intent

McCulloch v. Maryland (1819)

Gibbons v. Ogden (1824)

Congress: (Ch 11)


reapportionment - every ten years following the census


racial gerrymandering

single member district - each congressional district is represented by only the candidate who wins by a majority or plurality (makes it difficult for a third party candidate to win a seat)

Be familiar with the following Supreme Court rulings which deal with the principle of "one man one vote" (ex. congressional districts must be roughly equal in population, districts cannot be based solely on race)

Baker v. Carr (1962)

Westberry v. Sanders (1964)

Shaw v. Reno (1993) -

Miller v. Johnson (1995)

Be familiar with the differing powers and responsibilities of the House and Senate (ex. House - can raise revenue, impeach; Senate - approves treaties and presidential appointments)

legislative oversight - is the authority of Congress to investigate other branches of the government and the bureaucracy (ex.Watergate)

the powers of the Speaker of the House

the roles of the majority leader, minority leader and whips.

the role of the Vice President in the Senate

president pro tempore

House Rules Committee

House Appropriations Committee

House ways and Means Committee

standing committees - permanent subject matter committees, also regulate the bureaucracy


joint committees

conference committee

select committee

committee chairs are always from the majority party

the importance of incumbency with regard to being re-elected

the importance of seniority

caucus - informal networks of legislators with a common interest (ex.Congressional Black Caucus, Caucus for Women's Issues, Travel and Tourism Caucus)

public bill - deals with issues of national concern

private bill - applies to an individual or place



joint resolution

closed rule - no amendments to a bill may be offered during floor debate

open rule - permits amendments to a bill to be offered during floor debate

filibuster - talking a bill to death (only takes place in the Senate)

cloture - 3/5 vote of the Senate to end a filibuster

legislative veto - the blocking of a presidential or bureaucratic agency action (ex. the sale of arms abroad) by a vote of Congress (ruled unconstitutional in 1983)

legislative intent

logrolling - "You scatch my back (vote for my bill) and I'll scratch yours."

"pork barrel" legislation

markup session - rewriting and revising a bill in a committee or subcommittee



constituent - the people you represent (even those who didn't vote for you)

casework - helping constituents who are having problems dealing with the bureaucracy

perks - fringe benefits for membwrs of Congress

The Presidency: (Ch 12)

the formal roles/powers of the president (enumerated in the Constitution)

head of state


chief diplomat - (ex. acting as a negotiator for other nations such as Jimmy Carter at Camp David)

chief executive/administrator

chief legislator

nominates federal judges

grants reprieves, pardons and amnesties


pocket veto

informal powers (not enumerated in the Constitution)

precedents set by past presidents (ex. Washington)

actions of Congress granting power to the president (ex. Gulf of Tonkin Resolution)

line-item veto (ruled unconstitutional in Clinton v. New York)

"bully pulpit"

leader of the party


limits on presidential power

Congress overriding vetoes

Congress passing laws to limit the president's actions (ex. War Powers Act)

decisions by federal courts (ex. US v. Nixon)

global politics requires international cooperation (ex. difficult to "go it alone")

public opinion (ex. standing in the polls)

divided government - (ex. a Republican president and a Democratic Congress)


the President as Chief Executive/Chief Administrator

presidential appointments to the Cabinet and bureaucracy

White House Staff - the president's top-level aides

a) White House Chief of Staff

b) National Security Advisor

c) press secretary

d) White House Counsel - the White House lawyer

Executive Office - serves the policy-making needs of the president

a) National Security Council (NSC) - foreign policy advisors

b) Council of Economic Advisors (CEA)

c) Office of Management and Budget (OMB) - prepares the federal budget

d) General Accounting Office (GAO) - monitors how federal (bureaucratic) agencies spend the funds allocated to them by Congress

executive order - one way to get around a recalcitrant Congress (ex. Truman orders desegration of the armed forces)

executive agreements, proclamations and regulations - have the force of law but do not require Congressional approval

The Bureaucracy: (Ch 13)

civil service

the cabinet -14 departments

independent regulatory agencies - are outside the regular system of checks and balances and have executive, legislative, and judicial powers (ex. Federal Reserve Board, Federal TradeCommission, Federal Communications Commission)


government corporations - provide services to the public for a fee (ex. Amtrak, Post Office, PBS)

independent executive agencies - range from operating government facilities (General Services Administration) to overseeing federal elections (Federal Election Commission) to monitoring civil rights (Civil Right Commission).

iron triangles

issue networks - less formal than iron triangles and involve more participants (ex. environmental and welfare activists)

Pendleton Act (1883) - ended patronage, established the civil service and merit system

Hatch Act (1939) - limits the political activities of civil service employes

attempts to "re-invent government" to make it smaller and more efficient (ex. Clinton administration)

The Jucicary: (Ch 14)

The federal judiciary has no power to implement and enforce its rulings. (only the Executive branch can)

What is the process for appointing federal justices ? (Who nominates and who approves ?)

In what way is the appointment of Supreme Court justices a political decision ? (ex. Judge Bork)

original jurisdiction - (ex. disputes between states)

appellate jurisdiction - hearing appeals from lower courts, the most common type of Supreme Court case

life tenure

senatorial courtesy

loose constructionist (judicial activist) - argues that the Supreme Court needs to respond to changing times (ex. the Earl Warren Court)

strict constructionist (judicial restraint) - argues that the judiciary's decisions should be based on the original intent of the Constitution (ex. Justices Scalia and Thomas)

judicial activism - (ex. the Earl Warren Court, considered liberal and activist)

Brown v. Board of Education (1954) - Warren Court

Roe v. Wade (1973) - Burger Court

judicial review

Marbury v. Madison (1803)

U.S. solicitor general

Political Behavior and Political Groups:

political socialization (influenced by family, school, peers, the mass media, age, race, income, occupation and religion)



gender gap

political participation (voting, running for office, working on a campaign, petition, writing to politicians, demonstration). Voting is the primary way people participate in government.

Be familiar with the voting patterns of various ethnic groups, age groups, income and educational levels.

Why do people who are eligible to vote choose not to ?

political efficacy - the feeling that one's vote has no influence because big business, big money and special interests control politics and government

Those with the least amount of wealth, property and education are the least likely to vote.

Voting is a matter of habit (ex. older people vote more than young people)

Motor Voter Act of 1993

public opinion (measured by opinion polls, media coverage, letters, phone calls and emails between constituents and politicians)

exit poll

How do you evaluate the validity of an opinion poll ?

mass media (ex. TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, books, movies, internet)

the role of the mass media on the decline of political parties

presidential use of the media

regional differences in political attitudes

sound bites

Interest Groups, Political Parties and Elections:

linkage institutions (political parties, interest groups, elections, mass media)


Explain the methods national interest groups (listed below) normally use to influence Congress and the public (ex. lobby individual members of Congress, contribute (PAC) money, "target" them for re-election or defeat in their home state or district, organize letter writing or phone campaigns by constituents to their members of Congress ["all politics is local"], create media "spots" to promote your cause)

National Rifle Association (NRA)

National Organization for Women (NOW)

American Medical Association (AMA)

American Association of Retired Persons (AARP)

National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)

National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)

economic interest groups (ex. business, labor unions, farmers)

single issue groups (ex. gun control)

Political Action Committees (PAC's)

Federal Election Commission (FEC) - administers federal election laws

campaign finance reform (ex. Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971)

hard money

soft money - contributions for "party building" efforts

two-party system- evolved from Federalists and Anti-Federalists

third parties - have historically served as innovators and stimulators of ideas and reforms only to have them "stolen" by the major parties

single issue districts- make it difficult for third parties to win seats in Congress.

party realignment








party identification - more important on the local than federal level

dealignment - weakening of political parties

split-ticket voting

straight ticket voting

Policy making: (Ch 18, 19, 20)

economic policy

OMB - see earlier definition (Executive Office)

GAO - see earlier definition (Executive Office)

regulatory policy - the establishment of sanctions (punishments) to insure compliance with bureaucratic regulations (ex. access for the disabled, protecting the environment)

deregulation - reducing the regulatory role of government (favored by Conservatives)

Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act of 1985 - an attempt to control the size of the national debt

continuing resolution - allows a department to operate on the previous year's budget if new funds (appropriation bills) are not approved

fiscal policy - the impact of the government's taxing, spending and borrowing policies on the nation's economy

monetary policy - refers to the Federal Reserve Board's attempt to control inflation by manipulating the (a) money supply ( increasing or decreasing interest rates) and (b) reserve requirements (which determine the abount of money banks must keep on hand)

trade deficit

national debt

Budget Impoundment and Control Act of 1974 - forces presidents to spend the money Congress appropriates for programs

House Appropriations committee

environmental policy

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)

toxic wastes

global warming

entitlement - a benefit to which every eligable person has a legal right and that the government cannot deny such as Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, food stamps, aid to dependent children, public assistance (welfare) etc.


school vouchers

charter schools

health care

policies are heavily influenced by Health maintainance Organizations (HMO's) and doctor's organizations such as the American Medical Association (AMA)

foreign and defense policy

dominated by the President but the Senate also has an important role

Congress has the power to declare war, approve troop commitments, and appropriate funds for foreign policy projects

In setting foreign policy the president relies on the National Security Council (NSC), the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the CIA.

Civil Rights and Civil Liberties: (Chap 15, 16)

Civil rights - freedom from (ex. discrimination, unreasonable search and seizure, etc)

Civil liberties - freedom to (ex. expression, speech, assembly, etc.)

Be familiar with the civil rights and civil liberties guaranteed by the Bill of Rights

wall of separation - refers to the separation of church and state

Fourteenth Amendment - incorporated the Bill of Rights to apply to the states for the first time under the

equal protection clause

due process clause

Milestone cases involving civil rights

Mapp v. Ohio (1964) - established the exclusionary rule

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) - the right to a lawyer

Miranda v. Arizona (1963) - must be informed of your right to remain silent upon arrest

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) - separate but equal

Brown v. Board of Education (1954) - segregated schools are unconstitutional

Regents of the University of California v. Bakke (1978)

Griswald v. Connecticut (1965)

Roe v. Wade (1973)

affirmative action

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Voting Rights Act of 1965