It’s time to talk about the next course
and regret I’ve done after APUSH.
Fortunately I have been able to do well in AP Gov (GOPO who????). It’s been over a year since I’ve done anything related to this class, so this is all I remember doing (or whatever I wish I did).
First of all, welcome to the course!
I personally never planned to take the class. AP U.S. History was supposed to be the end of my time in the College Board’s dungeon, but yours truly ended up like this and somehow landed in AP Gov.
I know by the time I’ve published this post, the general structure of the class is going to be different from what I experienced, so here’s just a few general things:
Tip 1. You don’t exactly have to be a political superfan to survive…sort of
I certainly was not one. I’ll admit, it is quite intimidating coming in to AP Gov without knowing much of what is going on in the government. I remember during a class pre-meeting (done the spring before we started), my teacher was like “This class isn’t for you if you can’t name our state’s senators.”
Well, I knew who one of them was at the time…so, ehhhhhh. But I ended up fine.
It’s a bit difficult to get involved in some class discussions about current events, though. And that’s where the ‘sort of’ part comes in. If that sort of participation is a part of your grade…good luck. I got lucky that I wasn’t really required to do that. You’re going to have to play a bit of catch up, but with stuff running all over the news all of the time, it shouldn’t be as scary as it sounds. Also, the discussion might be opinion based, so technically, there shouldn’t be wrong answers. I’ve got to throw out there that every class is different, and what I’ve seen might not exactly be what goes on in your class.
Personally, catching up with the news wasn’t too bad, especially as someone who didn’t take too much interest in politics. I’d have a few basics and main points about what went down, then picked up the rest after hearing what my classmates had to say. It got easier as the year went on because I’ve picked up more material (had more background knowledge about politics).
Now, if you’re really like me and actually hated politics…why are you here? Why was I here??
The class was really a lot of hard work. I came in with not really a clue about what was going on politics-wise and it was the first time I’ve studied civics in depth, so I had to really put in time in making sure I understood what we were learning. Much of what I did to fully grasp the information thrown at me in class was done through reading, which brings me to…
Tip 2. PLEASE READ YOUR BOOK, IT SAVES LIVES
And make sure you actually understand what you’re reading. It’s a waste of time reading a giant paragraph and then looking up and thinking man, I don’t even know what I just read. If you do have one of those moments, laugh because that’s actually pretty hilarious
and then cry because let’s admit it, we’re all doomed here.
I’d usually read the same passage again, but slower to sort of analyze what I just read. I’d work situations through my head. It’s a lot of ‘what would happen if…’ questions. If you know what I mean.
I also like to associate as much as I can when I encounter an idea. Like when I’m reading about a certain type of policy or case, I’m thinking ‘Who would favor this? Who would be against it? Why? What are some real life examples?’ It’s nice to keep stuff like that in mind as the material is connected to each other in so many places.
If that doesn’t work, there are other resources out there to help, like your genius friend, your teacher, or everyone’s BFF, the internet.
Tip 3. Don’t fall behind
That’s for pretty much every class. There’s a ton of material I saw for the first time. I went through two notebooks that year. Despite how there are various topics, stuff sometimes does build and it eventually comes together in the end.
Also, keep on top of your Supreme Court cases. There’s sooooooOOooooooOoOooOOOoo many. And, yes, they’re all important. I learned that the hard way when I encountered the last FRQ on my AP exam.
(Olive Garden v. Hedgehog for the win, if you get that)
What helped me understand main topics in class was using diagrams. Super helpful when you’ve got a federalism on your hands.
(not really) Tip 4. I’m going to say this now: RIP your hand(s)
It’s just a ton of writing, man.
Tip 5. Use your resources!!
- AP Central
- This probably is not your textbook, but I personally used this (American Government: Institutions and Policies by Wilson and DiIulio)
- Crash Course U.S. Government and Politics
- There’s like a ton of sets on Quizlet
- For your Supreme Court cases (Oyez)
- Hopefully this won’t take too long to make if you’re hungry
If you lose all hope, please enjoy this.
As for why I ended up in this class? I wanted to learn to be a better citizen. It’s cool that I could vote, but I don’t want to make a decision I’d regret at the polls. For some reason I don’t hate politics now as much as I did before taking the class, so I guess this wasn’t a waste of time (my major is not even near civics).
But really, I learned a lot.
Whatever reason you’re here, I wish you the best of luck!