Throughout the semester, in order to fine tune your "AP Gov't " essay-writing style, you will write a series of short essays relating to the topics covered in the course. On the actual AP test you will be have 100 minutes to write four essays.You may be asked to respond to the topics by either (1) "describing", (2) "analyzing", (3) "explaining", (4) "discussing" (5) "identifying", or (6) "comparing and contrasting". You will also be asked to interpret charts, graphs or cartoons.

Your quickwrites must follow the AP ESSAY RUBRIC.

Example: Identify specific techniques from Hardball which the President could use in order to deal with the allegations made against his character during theKenneth Starr investigations ?


1) In a recent decision the Supreme Court held that states may outlaw homosexual behaviour between consenting adults . Given the value systems of liberals, conservatives and libertarians, compare or contrast how "typical" individuals in each of these groups would be likely to react to this decision ?


2) List the four basic principles underlying the Constitution and describe the connection between these principles and America's experience in colonial and revolutionary times.

3) Explain how the Constitution corrected weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation ?


4) Refering to each of the topics listed below, explain how the U.S. Supreme Court has acted as a "tool of social change" in the 20th century. (15 pts.)

the Rights of the Accused

Civil Rights

school integration


5) Explain the significance of McCulloch v. Maryland in the evolution of federalism ?

6)Choose four specific historical events, Supreme Court rulings or individuals and explain how each of them helped to significantly enlarge the role of the Federal government. (15 pts.)

7) Contrast the approaches of any two recent U.S. Presidents in their attempts to reshape federalism.

8) Contrast the two competing views of federalism.


9) Politicians have claimed that elections are determined as a result of the fact that "all politics is local". Assess the validity of this statement by citing specific examples from Hardball.

10) Explain the role of (a) polling, (b) news coverage, and (c) political advertising in presidential campaigns.


11) In addition to the powers and duties of the president as set forth in the Constitution, describe at least three other key factors which have expanded the power of the presidency in the 20th century.

12) List the special skills presidents need for crisis management.

[Read Woll paperback (pg.278) Richard Neustadt, Presidential Power]

13) Evaluate Neustadt's thesis that the essential power of the presidency is the "power to pursuade".

[Read Woll (pg.291) James Barber, The Presidential Character]

14) Explain what Barber means when he says the presidency is "much more than an institution".

15) Describe and give examples of the four presidential character types that Barber develops.

CONGRESS (Chap. 11)

16) Explain the advantage incumbency gives to a member of Congress.

17) Some people have argued that to be truly representative, a legislature should mirror the characteristics of the people it is supposed to represent. Analyze the make-up of the U.S. Congress and explain whether or not Congress is representative in this sense (Give specific examples with respect to race, gender, education and previous occupation).

18) Explain the relationship between Congress and the President with regard to

a) the formulation of domestic policy (ex. the federal budget). (see Ch. 19)

b) the formulation of foreign policy. (see Ch. 20)

POLICYMAKING (Chap. 17, 18, 19)

For these topics simply write (and highlight) your thesis statement and list the examples you would use to support it.


19) Clinton campaign strategist James Carville is credited with identifying the key theme of the 1992 election when he advised candidate Clinton that "It's the economy stupid."

Compare and contrast the policies of Reagan (and Bush) to those of Clinton as they relate to economic philosophy and implementation. Take a position and analyze how each president applied economic philosophy to create an economic policy. (Ch. 18)


20) The United States government has created what it calls a poverty line. This concept establishes the point at which an individual is considered living in what has been called a "culture of poverty." (Ch. 19)

Describe what attempts have been made through public policy to find solutions to this so-called culture of poverty.

Discuss attempts at reforming the welfare system.

Discuss other entitlement programs aimed at providing security for Americans.


21) Special interest groups are often criticized as being divisive as well as hindering the legislative process. Give examples that both refute and support this statement regarding the relationship special interest groups have with the development of public policy issues. (Ch. 17)











00) Explain how social or demographic characteristics (such as education, income, ethnicity, religion and region) are linked to a person's political values ?



00) Explain: "Presidential elections are no longer contests between candidates and ideologies; they are battles among media teams."



00) "There isn't a dime's worth of difference between Democrats and Republicans". Support or refute this position with concrete illustrations focusing on party ideologies and organization.


WOLL -- pg186 -- James Madison, Federalist 10

00)Explain what, according to Madison, was the principal cause of "faction" in his times ?

00) Explain Madison's proposals for dealing with the problem of "faction" ?

00) Describe two contempory issues which have caused "faction".





WOLL -- pg 248 --Walter Isaacson, Running With the PAC's.

1) What are the common charges made against PAC's and are they valid ?

2) What are some of the problems that may arise from the efforts to control PAC's ?




Based on the PBS VIDEO: "So you want to buy a President "?

Choose one:

A) Fat cats and large cash contributions corrupt the system and are damaging to American democracy...campaign reform is essential.

B) Cash contributions to politicians, regardless of the amount, are an example of "freedom of expression" and are perfectly compatible with American democracy.



1) Assume you are the outgoing President, what are three specific pieces of advice would you give to a new President to enable them to be successful ?


WOLL -- pg 273 -- Clinton Rossiter, The Presidency --- Focus of Leadership

1) Does being the "leader of his party" give the President significant power in government ?

2) Do you agree or disagree with Rossiter that the presidency has been a "clear beacon of national purpose" at critical moments in U.S. history ?







1) Some people have argued that to be truly representative, a legislature should mirror the characteristics of the people it is supposed to represent. Is the American Congress representative in this sense ? (Give examples with respect to race, gender, education and occupation.) - Text Ch 11

2) Describe the major influences that help legislators decide how to vote on particular issues. - Text Ch 11




1. Describe the formal and informal processes of bureaucratic policymaking. - Text Ch 13

2. Explain the "rational comprehensive" model of decision making and compare it with real-world decision making. - Text Ch 13



Part 2


Free-response essays


The ability to demonstrate an understanding of both the formal and informal powers of Congress, the presidency, the bureaucracy and the courts and how they interract with political parties, interest groups and the media is the key to scoring highly on the AP essay section. That is the purpose of these particular questions.




"The creation of government policy is a result of interactions and dynamics among individuals , interest groups and government institutions (specifically Congress, the White House, the bureaucracy and the courts) ". Choose either an economic, domestic or global policy issue to illustrate how a specific policy is formed. - Text Ch 17 through 20



Political parties were historically the principal means by which the "average" citizen could organize and communicate their interests and concerns to their government. Explain why certain segments of the population, however, (ex. corporations, farmers, the elderly and various organized lobbies) are able to exert a much greater amount of pressure and influence on the government than the "average" citizen. - Text Ch 8 and 10, PBS Video: "So You Want to Buy a President ?"



Assess the validity of the following statement.

"Presidential greatness is, to a large extent, determined as a result of a president being in the right place at the right time".

Be sure to use historical examples in the essay as well as define the criteria you believe is necessary to characterize a president as great. - Text Ch 12