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A Program of the Virginia Department of Education

04157 AP U.S. Government & Politics

Field of Study

AP U.S. Government and Politics is designed to present students with an analytical perspective of government and politics in the United States, tracing the history, development, and nature of U.S. governmental institutions and processes, as well as societal perspectives and behaviors related to such institutions and processes (and influences on those perspectives and behaviors.)

Material Covered

The course involves both the study of general concepts used to interpret U.S. politics and the analysis of specific case studies. The course will include the various institutions, groups, beliefs, and ideas that constitute U.S. political reality. As such, it will cover these basic areas:

  • Foundations of Democracy
  • The Political Process: Ideologies, Beliefs, and Participation
  • Interactions Among Branches of Government
  • Civil Rights and Civil Liberties
  • The Politics of National Policy

Student Expectations

Students will complete a variety of homework assignments, including vocabulary and required readings for each module. They will participate in discussion boards. Work related to each module and chapter of the textbook contains study guides and a culminating quiz or exam, as well as written responses to Free Response Questions. This course contains a mix of writing, multiple choice, and other assignments. 

Related Requirements

At the conclusion of the course, students will be prepared to take the AP U.S. Government and Politics Exam and are expected but not required to do so.


  • Required: Enrollment in grades 9–12
  • Recommended: Successful completion of World History and World Geography

Course Texts and Materials


  • Government by the People, by Magleby
    2018 Elections and Updates Edition ISBN: 9780135176665
    Elections and Updates Edition, 26th Edition: 9780134627540
    AP Edition, 25th Edition ISBN: 9780205865772
    Publisher: Pearson
    (The 24th is edition is also acceptable, but please consult with instructor.)
  • The Lanahan Readings In the American Polity, 6th edition
    Edited by Ann Sorrow and Everett C. Ladd
    ISBN: 1930398190


  • Any major AP U.S. Government and Politics test prep book (e.g., Princeton Review’s Cracking the AP US Government and Politics Exam, The Ultimate Student’s Guide to AP US Government and Politics, Barron’s AP US Government and Politics Exam, etc.)
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