Everything You Need To Know About The AP® Macroeconomics Exam

Are you considering a career in accounting, finance, or business administration? If that interests you, the AP® Macroeconomics exam could be a great way to prepare for these college majors.

This guide to the AP Macroeconomics exam will give you a rundown of its prerequisites, format, topics, and scoring. We'll also analyze whether AP Macro can be a difficult exam to crack and how it can benefit you. But first, let's review its prerequisites and equivalency to college courses.

Time Duration: 2 Hours 10 mins
No. of Units: 6 Course Units
Exam Format: 60 MCQs + 3 FRQs
When to Take: Senior or junior year of high school
Exam Cost: $97 in the U.S. and territories

AP Macroeconomics: How Long Is It and Who Can Take It?

AP Macro is a one-semester course in macroeconomics and covers fundamental concepts and topics like business cycles, national income, financial sectors, and international trade. It is equivalent to an introductory college course in economics.

You are not required to have any prerequisites to sign up for the AP Macro course. However, you should be able to read and understand college-level textbooks and possess basic math and graphing skills.

What's on the AP Macroeconomics Exam?

The AP Macroeconomics exam evaluates your knowledge of fundamental concepts of economic systems and how they work as functional units. The test will cover national income, banking, inflation, unemployment, and economic policies. Test performance is also measured by how well you understand economic situations and predict outcomes based on statistics, graphs, and charts.

The AP Macro exam consists of questions based on the six units you'll learn in the AP Macro course. As you journey through each unit, you'll come across four key concepts or big ideas that recur throughout the course. Each unit also teaches you skills that will help you succeed in the exam. Let's look at what these big ideas and units are, followed by the list of course skills:

AP Macro Big Ideas

  • Big Idea 1: Economic Measurements (MEA)
  • Big Idea 2: Markets (MKT)
  • Big Idea 3: Macroeconomic Models (MOD)
  • Big Idea 4: Macroeconomic Policies (POL)
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Visual explanation of budget deficit and budget surplus.

AP Macroeconomics Course Units

Each unit on the AP Macro course also carries a specific weight. This weight denotes the number of questions you will get from that particular unit on the exam. Check out the table below to learn about the AP Macroeconomics course units and their respective exam weights:

Units Unit Name Exam Weight
Unit 1 Basic Economic Concepts 5–10 %
Unit 2 Economic Indicators and the Business Cycle 12–17 %
Unit 3 National Income and Price Determination 17–27 %
Unit 4 Financial Sector 17–27 %
Unit 5 Long-Run Consequences of Stabilization Policies 18–23 %
Unit 6 Open Economy—International Trade and Finance 20–30 %
Did you know?

The College Board® has made significant changes to the AP Macro syllabus. Stay on track with our updated guide to the AP Macroeconomics course and exam description before you decide to take the test!

AP Macro Course Skills

  • Principles and Models: You'll learn how to define and analyze economic principles and models
  • Interpretation: You'll discover how to interpret and explain specific economic outcomes
  • Manipulation: You'll learn to determine outcomes of economic situations
  • Graphing and Visuals: You'll be taught to predict economic situations using graphs or visual information

What Is the Format of the AP Macroeconomics Exam?

The AP Macro exam lasts 2 hours and 10 minutes and consists of two sections. The first is the multiple-choice (MCQ) section with 60 questions, while the second is the free-response (FRQ) section comprising 3 questions. The table below outlines the exam format for a quick read.

Section Time No. of Questions Question Type Score Weighting
Section I: MCQ 1 hr 10 mins 60 MCQ 66 %
Section II: FRQ 1 hr 1 Long FRQ 33 %
2 Short FRQ

We recommend reviewing the AP Macro exam format beforehand to ensure you're ready for your big day. This will give you an idea of what questions to expect and how much time you'll have to answer them.

How Is the AP Macro Exam Scored?

The AP Macroeconomics exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest. A score of 3 and above can get you college course placement and/or credits for most introductory macroeconomic courses in college. Check the table below to learn how your AP Macro exam score equates to a college grade for introductory macroeconomics courses.

AP Macroeconomics Exam Score Equivalent College Grade
5 A+ or A
4 A- or B+ or B
3 B- or C+ or C

Why Take AP Macroeconomics?

Here’s what AP Macro can do for you:

  1. Prep for College Coursework

    Taking a college-level introductory course and exam like AP Macroeconomics can ease your transition from high school to the first year of college. Preparing for the AP Macro exam will push you to think critically about complex economic concepts and theories. It’ll boost your analytical and problem-solving skills to help you prepare for rigorous college coursework.

  2. Boost Your College Applications

    85% of institutions report that a student’s AP experience favorably impacts admission decisions1. Moreover, a good AP Macro score will demonstrate your solid understanding of fundamental economics and help with your course placements in college. This is especially valuable for students who plan to major in economics or pursue a career in a related field.

  3. Earn College Credits

    Scoring well on the AP Macroeconomics exam can earn you college credit, which saves you time and tuition money in the long run. Many colleges and universities accept AP exam scores as an equivalent to specific courses, which means you can likely skip those courses and move on to more advanced coursework.

  4. Strengthen Your Transcript

    Taking AP Macro in high school can impact your GPA more than a regular high school economics course. Therefore, even if you receive an average grade in the AP class, it may still be more advantageous for your high school transcript than earning an A in a standard economics course.

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Visual illustration of the consumer price index for a market basket of goods over time.

Is AP Macroeconomics Hard?

It is safe to assume that any AP course you take is more challenging than your standard high school classes because they're equivalent to first-year college courses in those subjects. However, there are a few more factors that can help you understand whether a course like AP Macroeconomics may be challenging for you:

  • The pass rates for the AP Macro exam can help you gauge its difficulty. The AP Macro exam for 2022 has a success rate of over 51%, which tells us that it is a moderately challenging exam to ace.
  • What are your academic strengths? AP Macro requires both memorization and analytical skills. Students must be apt to memorize formulas and theories and then apply those to solve problems. Both skills are needed to succeed in this subject.
  • Success on your AP exam can depend on how well your teacher covered the AP course material. Therefore, having a good AP teacher is important. High school seniors should talk to their teachers about the AP exam.
  • Try to review the course material and go through the AP Macro CED to determine the difficulty level of this subject.

Should I Take AP Macroeconomics or Microeconomics?

In addition to AP Macro, the College Board administers the AP Microeconomics exam for students seeking a career in economics or financial advising. But, compared to AP Microeconomics, AP Macro is more popular among students due to the types of exam topics, making it more relatable to fields that require studying national and global economies.

In 2022, the number of students taking the AP Macro exam was significantly higher at 134,4132 compared to 84,386 students taking the AP Microeconomics exam. Although the numbers can indicate the popularity of a course, the most important factor is determining if the subject aligns with your academic goals and how taking AP Macro, AP Micro, or both can help you achieve your career.

AP Microeconomics includes the study of economic principles and practices that affect smaller financial units/systems like individuals, groups, and businesses. AP Macroeconomics focuses on the same fundamental principles but operates at the higher level of conglomerates, countries, and the global economy. However, the key difference lies in the specific areas of application they focus on. This could be a key factor in determining whether one course will suit you or if taking both will benefit you more.

At some schools, the decision of which course to take, either AP Macro or AP Micro, is made for you based on your GPA, learning aptitude, and career goals. However, in other schools, students can choose between the two courses. It is also a common practice for students to opt for both the AP exams to get more credit and course placement options in college.

In conclusion, choosing between AP Macro and Micro boils down to three key factors, and answering them will help you decide which course can work better for your career:

  1. What major are you planning for in college?
  2. Are you comfortable working with calculus? AP Microeconomics needs you to learn and apply basic calculus concepts.
  3. Does your high school routine give you enough mind space to opt for both AP Macroeconomics and Microeconomics?

Need more insights? Our complete guide to AP Macroeconomics vs. AP Microeconomics is here to help!

AP Macroeconomics Review Tips

Preparing for AP Macro requires meticulous planning, time, and commitment, which may seem daunting. Some helpful tips can make reviewing the course a smoother experience for you:

  • Prepare a study schedule ahead of your exam date.

    Lack of a structured study plan before AP exams can hinder your systematic engagement with the subject. Creating a study schedule is crucial to managing the course content and tackling challenging portions. This breaks the content into manageable parts and allows you to revise your work while progressing through the course.

  • Make study notes on the side.

    When studying for exams, take notes regularly and use a set study schedule to break down the course material. Jot down difficult topics in each unit for future revision. If you previously studied politics or government, those notes can serve as a basis for your AP notes.

  • Familiarize yourself with the question format through practice tests.

    Using practice tests such as UWorld's AP Macroeconomics Practice Problems will help you become familiar with the multiple-choice section. Since the exam involves long and short essay questions, practice tests can enhance your understanding and prepare you to write more efficiently. Reviewing FRQs from past AP Macroeconomics exams on the College Board website will help you with your time management skills and familiarize you with the question types.

Although self-studying from reference books has advantages, taking AP classes (online or in-person) allows for prompt clarification with the teacher. Our free step-by-step guide on how to study for the AP Macroeconomics exam aims to expedite your preparation process.

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Graph showing how countries benefit by producing and trading goods when they have a competitive advantage.


  1. Benefits of AP – AP Central | College Board. (n.d.). Apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved October 12, 2023, from
  2. Student Score Distributions AP exams - May 2022. APcentral.college.board.org. Retrieved August 8, 2023 from
  3. AP Macroeconomics Course and Exam Description. (2022). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved July 2023, from
  4. AP Macroeconomics Course Overview. (2022). apcentral.collegeboard.org. Retrieved July 18, 2023, from
  5. AP Macroeconomics Exam – AP Central | College Board. (n.d.).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The AP Macro exam is offered once a year in May. You can take it once every year till you reach your target score.

The 2024 AP Macro exam is scheduled for May 10 at 12:00 pm local time.

Starting in 2023, the College Board permits using a four-function calculator on both exam sections. Check out the AP exam calculator policy to learn about the CB-authorized models.

You can find past AP Macro exam questions on the College Board website.

You must carry your ID, pencils, an eraser, and an approved calculator to the AP Macro testing center. Check this list to learn about all the items you need to bring to your exam.

You can retake the exam if you fail the AP Macro exam.

Students usually take the AP Macro exam during their senior year in high school, but some choose to take it even during their junior year.

Taking the AP Macro exam will cost you $97 (US and territories) and $127 if you take the test internationally.

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