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AP Macroeconomics Review

AP Macroeconomics Review

Explore a variety of economic concepts and theories behind what makes an economy work. 

Money makes the world go ‘round, and those who understand how economies twist and turn have a distinct advantage in college and beyond. If the grander schemes of the economy fascinate you, AP Macroeconomics is the course for you. While learning about the trends and philosophies that continue to shape the economies of the world, you’ll also develop skills in data analysis, graph interpretation, and more all while earning college credit. 

Overview of AP Macroeconomics Exam

While the AP Macro exam can be challenging, knowing what to expect on test day can be a vital step toward success. 

Multiple Choice Section Review

You’ll have an hour and ten minutes to complete 60 multiple choice questions. How you do on this section of the text will make up 66% of the final exam grade. The questions you’ll face here cover most major course topics, but you can expect questions about identifying economic principles, interpreting outcomes, determining outcomes, and understanding graphs and models. 

Free-Response Section Review

The free-response section consists of three questions, one long and two short, and you will have exactly one hour to complete them. Overall, how you do on this part will be the final third of your exam grade. These questions will have you apply course skills through task completion. You can expect to do some or even all of the following: Make assertions about economic concepts, principles, models, outcomes, and/or effects; explain economic concepts, principles, models, outcomes and/or effects; perform numerical analysis; and create graphs or visual representations. 

Key AP Macroeconomics Exam Topics

While you will cover many nuanced and complex topics in AP Macro, most lessons and tasks will fall under a few vital topics. 

Basic Economic Concepts

You’ll need a robust economic vocabulary to succeed on the AP Macro exam, so expect to learn all the appropriate terminology and concepts. Additionally, you’ll need to know how these concepts relate to one another and connect. For example, you will need to understand concepts like Gross Domestic Product and what values factor into determining that important number.  

Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle

Economics is all about pattern recognition and using trends and past experiences to make predictions about the future. Businesses, investors, and individuals all use economic indicators to make important decisions about how to use their money. You’ll need to learn about these indicators and how economies naturally ebb and flow.  

National Income and Price Determination

The prices of goods and services are not determined at random. AP Macro will explain the ins and outs of supply and demand and how this intricate dance alters prices at all levels of the economy. 

The Financial Sector

With the incredible amount of capital circulating in today’s economy, we need the financial sector to keep everything tuned up and in working order. Banks, lending agencies, insurance companies and more collaborate to ensure a robust and varied economy.

Long-Run Consequences of Stabilization Policies

Billions of people across the globe rely on their economies to survive, so stability is a must. Governments use policies to keep fluctuations to a minimum, but these regulations and adjustments can have long-term effects, some predictable and others not. Learning to anticipate the outcomes of stabilization policies is vital for decision making in the financial sector. 

Open Economy - International Trade and Finance

No economy operates in total isolation. Instead, each region, whether that be a city, state, or nation, must learn to work with other economies to foster effective and fair trade that benefits all parties involved. Compromises, contracts, and trade agreements are all essential to understand if you want to wrap your head around the inner-workings of the global economy.  

AP Macroeconomics Exam Tips from ALVS Instructors

Success on this challenging exam takes careful planning and determination early on. Here are some helpful tips from our certified AP instructors.

Develop a Study Schedule 

The AP Macro exam is skill-based and knowledge-based, and those skills can only be refined through extensive and persistent practice. If you wait until the week before the test to start working these skills or learning key terms, you will be in for a rough time on the exam. Additionally, the kinds of graphs and models you will read on the exam as part of the more intensive questions are often technical and challenging. Students without experience reading such figures will struggle. Set aside time each week to practice the skills and review important vocabulary.   

Master the Art of Notetaking 

Notetaking is vital for lecture-based classes, especially when you are dealing with nuanced terms. Notetaking is also a necessary part of analysis when you set out to determine outcomes of certain economic policies or understand data tables. While annotation guides are out there, you need to find the right strategy for you, and that process takes time. Some rely on color-coding and unique symbols while others scribble notes in the margins. The key to success will be refining notetaking skills during class so that analyzing texts on the exam is second nature.

Pay Close Attention to Task Verbs

The phrasing on AP exams is meant to be very precise, and with AP Macro topics, paying attention to the exact wording is vital. For one, you need to make sure you understand the context and focus of the question. Additionally, for the task-based questions in the FRQ section, pay extra close attention to the task verbs. These are the words that instruct you on what a question is asking you to do specifically. These will guide your problem-solving and keep you focused. When you go to write out your answers and explain your reasoning, you can use those verbs and other language from the question.  

Reach out to your AP instructor

Your AP instructor is a great resource for helping you succeed on the AP exam. ALVS instructors are here to set you up for success with tips and resources so you can feel prepared and confident on exam day. Our AP instructors regularly attend extensive training to stay up to date on College Board exam expectations and many have even been exam readers in the past.

AP Macroeconomics Practice Exams

Even with well-developed skills and knowledge about the course content, the exam can catch people off guard with its depth-of-knowledge questions and tasks. The best way to prepare for this challenge is to take practice exams. You can find samples of previous tests online, but note that these samples are often just snippets of the complete exam and don’t capture the full scope of the test. You can buy study books and guides featuring complete practice tests, but these can be pricey. Libraries, however, often have older editions of such study guides for patrons to borrow. You need to make sure that the current year’s test aligns with the study book’s content. The tests do change from time to time, and older study guides might not address such changes. 

AP Macroeconomics Exam Scoring 

On the AP Macro exam, the MCQs make up two-thirds of the exam grade, and the three FRQs constitute the last third. In regard to skills, the exact breakdown of how much each topic is weighed varies, but CollegeBoard provides a rough estimate of the percentage.  


Percentage of Test

Unit 1: Basic Economic Concepts


Unit 2: Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle


Unit 3: National Income and Price Determination 


Unit 4: Financial Sector 


Unit 5: Long-Run Consequences of Stabilization Policies


Unit 6: Open Economy–International Trade and Finance


As you can see, basic knowledge is important, but the AP exam will rely more on the application of economic knowledge much more than simple rote memory of terms. Macroeconomics is all about understanding the “big picture,” so be ready to point all your knowledge toward understanding and predicting trends.

When preparing for the AP Macroeconomics exam, be sure to reference the free sample questions from the College Board and to study in a way that best suits you. If you’re an ALVS student preparing for the exam, be sure to leverage support from our dedicated team of experienced AP teachers, digital tools and resources, and engaging College Board-approved courses. In AP Macroeconomics, 70% of ALVS students scored a 3 or higher which is 18% higher than the 2022 national average reported by the College Board. Regardless of what score you get, know that you’re well on your way to a promising academic future — preparing for this exam alone is a great way to flex your skills and enhance your learning capabilities. 

Frequently Asked Questions About AP Macroeconomics

Is AP Macroeconomics difficult?

The pass rate for the AP Macro exam is around 63%, making it a bit more difficult than your average AP exam. The challenge comes with not just the breadth of knowledge you’ll need to maintain, but also the application of that knowledge in complex problems. 

How do I prepare for AP Macroeconomics?

Foundational knowledge is key, but you will need to make sure you know the basics early on and commit them to memory. After that, spend time reading and listening to economics media to better immerse yourself in the discourse around trends and policies. Test prep books and practice problems can help you better understand the exam and work out questions on your own. 

What percent correct will earn a 5 on AP Macro?

The scoring can vary depending on how well you do on the MCQs vs. the FRQs, but, in general, to get a 5 on the exam, you will need to do very well in both sections. You will want to score 80% or better on the MCQ section and then likewise for each FRQ. 

How can I be successful in AP Macroeconomics?

As with many advanced classes, you will need to adopt a serious and consistent study schedule to help solidify the course content. In addition to reviewing the material each day, engaging with economics books, podcasts, and news reports can help further contextualize the content. 

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