AP Macroeconomics Overview
AP Macroeconomics introduces students to broad concepts which apply to economic systems as a whole. The course emphasizes topics like price determination, national income, and performance measures. It’s goal is to provide students with instruction equivalent to an introductory college macroeconomics class.
We’ll cover the course, exams, and our picks for the best AP Macroeconomics review books, Flashcards, and Guides for test year 2021 below, but if you just can’t wait, here’s the short list:
AP Macroeconomics is a great choice for students looking to knock out introductory econ course requirements early on. In addition to students majoring in economics, most programs accept econ courses for general education credit. Whatever your motivation for studying AP Macroeconomics, we’re here to help you succeed!
A full Course Description for AP Macroeconomics is available from collegeboard.org.
There are 7 major topics and themes covered by an AP Macroeconomics course:
Basic Economic Concepts:
Students are introduced to foundational economics concepts like opportunity cost, scarcity, supply and demand, and free markets. This topic serves as the basis for topics which follow.
Measurements of Economic Performance:
This topic covers key economic measures of performance, including gross domestic product, inflation, and unemployment. Students will learn how each concept is defined, measured, and how it can be used to assess economies relative to one another.
National Income and Price Determination:
This topic teaches students how aggregate supply and demand interact to help determine the general price levels in an economy. Students will use models to predict long and short term impact of fluctuations in supply and demand.
Students will learn about how governments set monetary policies, be introduced to stock and bond markets, and other concepts like time value of money. The student should be able to identify tools which central banks can use to affect money supply, their impact on interest rates, growth, inflation, etc.
Public policy actions impact economies in a variety of different ways. Students will come to understand how these policies can affect unemployment, price levels, and overall output.
The course introduces the concept of long term economic growth and the influences that cause it to occur. Concepts like productivity, human capital formation, and technical progress are covered.
International Trade and Finance:
Foreign trade is a significant concept in the modern world. In this topic, students learn about currency exchange rates, trade restrictions, and domestic policy impact on international trade.
Students taking the AP Macroeconomics Exam are responsible for demonstrating knowledge of the above mentioned concepts and themes. The student’s knowledge is assessed through a 2 hour and 10 minute exam containing questions in both multiple choice and free response format. The exam is broken up into 2 parts, with the multiple choice section accounting for 66% and free response accounting for 33% of a final score between 1 and 5.
Section 1: Multiple Choice
- 1 hour and 10 minutes long and covers multiple themes and topics
- Two thirds of the overall exam score
Points are awarded for each correct answer, and no points are subtracted for incorrect or unanswered questions. Therefore, when unsure of a particular answer, you should eliminate as many options as possible and then choose from the remaining.
Section 2: Free Response
- 1 hour long and contains open ended questions
- One third of the overall exam score
In the free response section, different verbs give an indication of how the question should be answered:
Show: means use a diagram with correctly labeled elements to illustrate your answer.
Explain: means use a combination of written sentences and graphs to convey a concept to the audience.
Identify: means to provide a specific answer without need for written explanation.
Calculate: means to arrive at a specific numerical response, showing your work on how you got there.
For exam dates, refer to The College Board AP Calendar.
Best AP Macroeconomics Books
AP Macroeconomics has several strong contenders for the best textbooks and review guides which we’ve ranked for you above. Continue on for detailed information on each one!
5 Steps to a 5: AP Macroeconomics
Pros: Great online content and printed material.
Cons: The wording can be confusing in some places.
Best For: Supplemental study aid for the duration of the course and leading up to the exam.
Our Rating: 5 / 5
Our overall highest recommendation for guidebooks to prepare for the 2020 AP Macroeconomics exam is 5 Steps to a 5: AP Macroeconomics. The book comes jam packed with quality info and access to a treasure trove of online goodies. The full list of features include:
- 4 full length practice exams (2 in book and 2 online).
- Advanced test taking strategies for both the free response and multiple choice sections.
- Powerful online prep-materials including study plans, interactive games, tests and more.
- Diagnostic exams to help you assess your status and plan your study time.
The book makes a great supplement for other assigned course materials, and does well for either last minute review or throughout the course. Whatever your needs, this book is an overall great choice.
Cracking the AP Economics Macro & Micro Exams
Pros: Solid digital resources compliment printed materials.
Cons: Less detail and depth than some guides on this list.
Best For: Year long study aid to compliment course textbook.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
Cracking the AP Economics Macro & Micro Exams is a quality resource, which only missed the top spot on this list due to its lack of focus on a single course and exam. If you’re planning on taking both the micro and macro exams, this is a fantastic book. Otherwise, you may be better suited with one of the more narrow focused on this list. Features include:
- 2 Full length practice tests (1 micro, 1 macro).
- Tips and tactics for each section of the exam.
- Practice drills at the end of each chapter.
- Sample questions with detailed walk-throughs.
Overall, Princeton Review has constructed another greap Advanced Placement review guide here. Once again, if you’re planning to take both econ exams, or just really enjoy the topic, don’t hesitate to pick this up!
Barron’s AP Macroeconomics
Pros: Comprehensive review of all exam and course topics.
Cons: Limited number of practice tests.
Best For: Supplementing course materials.
Our Rating: 4.0 / 5
Barron’s AP Macroeconomics is a very solid review guide covering topics from both micro and macroeconomics. It doesn’t take the highest spot on this list because the focus is somewhat split between the two courses. If you’re planning to major in economics or take both courses / exams, this is a great pick! Features include:
- 2 full length printed tests and 2 online tests (2 micro and 2 macroeconomics).
- Comprehensive coverage of all course topics.
- Full review of test structure, strategies, etc
If you have a strong interest in economics, or have enjoyed Barron’s review guides in other subjects, this book is a great pick. If you’re just taking Macroeconomics, or are crunched for time, one of the other books on this list may be a better fit.
AP Macroeconomics Crash Course
Pros: Covers critical material in a logical format.
Cons: Limited number of full length practice tests.
Best For: Last minute cramming before the exam day.
Our Rating: 4.5 / 5
AP Macroeconomics Crash Course is an abbreviated review of the most important concepts covered in the AP Macroeconomics exam. It does a great job of cutting out the unnecessary material covered by more in-depth review books. The full list of features for this book includes:
- Access to free full length practice exam.
- Targeted review of only material covered on the exam.
- Strategies for tackling both exam sections.
- List of key formulas and definitions.
Overall, if you’re crunched on time, this book is likely to be your best choice due to its narrow focus. If you’re looking for a more complete review of the topics and themes covered in the Macroeconomics course, one of the other choices on this list may suit you better.
AP Macroeconomics is the most popular AP Econ course taken by students around the country. It covers a whole host of information, much of which students are unlikely to have encountered before. In order to be successful, review guides and other books in addition to your required course readings can be tremendously helpful.
Our comprehensive list of top AP Macroeconomics books are outlined above. Which one is right for you will depend heavily on your specific circumstances. To recap our list of recommendations:
|Top Overall Recommendation||5 Steps to a 5: AP Macroeconomics|
|Top Pick For Course Supplement||5 Steps to a 5: AP Macroeconomics|
|Top Pick For Last Minute Prep||AP Macroeconomics Crash Course|
Our top pick overall and our choice for best review guide for year long study is 5 Steps to a 5: AP Macroeconomics. It comes packaged with a bunch of great online content, and the printed material is top notch. Some books split their focus on both micro and macroeconomics which can be a hindrance if you’re only taking one. 5 Steps to a 5: AP Macroeconomics just covers macro, so we recommend it unless you actually do plan to take both exams.
AP Macroeconomics Crash Course is our top pick for students who are shorter on time before the AP exam date. As with 5 Steps to a 5: AP Macroeconomics, it covers only the Macroeconomics exam, and really cuts out the extra information which won’t show up on an actual exam.
Whatever your circumstance, supplemental study and review materials are a key part of ensuring success on the exam. We’ve listed some of the best AP Macroeconomics resources available. Good luck, and study hard!