How to Answer AP® Macroeconomics Free Response Questions (FRQs)

Answering AP® Macroeconomics Free Response Questions (FRQs) requires a strategic approach focused on thorough question comprehension, the use of precise economic terminology, strategic planning for responses, accurate graphing where necessary, and concise, well-explained answers addressing all parts of the question within the allotted time. In conjunction with mastering the AP Macroeconomics multiple-choice questions (MCQs), regular practice with past questions and maintaining a positive mindset are crucial for success on the exam. With insights and strategies from this guide, you can navigate the complexities of AP Macro FRQs and elevate your preparation for a successful performance on exam day.

Format of AP Macroeconomics FRQ Section

The AP Macroeconomics exam1 consists of two sections. The first section comprises 60 MCQs, and the second is the FRQs, composed of one long question and two short questions.

For more information on the exam format and structure, please read our article on the AP Macroeconomics Exam Format.

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How to Answer AP Macroeconomics Free-Response Questions?

Navigating AP Macroeconomics FRQs requires strategic thinking and a structured approach. Here are key strategies2 to help you excel in addressing these questions:

  1. Utilize the 10-Minute Planning Period

    • Take advantage of the time allocated for planning to analyze the question and organize your thoughts.
    • Allocate approximately 25 minutes to the long question and divide the remaining 25 minutes between the other two short questions.
  2. Flexibility in Question Order

    • Answer questions in any order, starting with the one you feel most confident about.
    • Clearly indicate in your answer booklet which question you are addressing.
  3. Avoid Restating Questions

    • Be concise; exam readers are familiar with the questions, so get straight to the point and skip unnecessary restatements.
  4. Correct Terminology Usage

    • Use precise macroeconomic terminology to convey your understanding accurately.
    • Differentiate terms like money and income, and be mindful of correct labeling.
  5. Strategic Use of Graphs

    • Draw graphs to enhance your response when possible.
    • Clearly label graphs, explain their significance, and ensure correct representation.
  6. Consistent Outline and Order

    • Number or letter each part of your response to correspond with the question's outline, maintaining the order presented.
  7. Address All Parts of a Question

    • Attempt all parts of a question, as credit for each part is awarded independently.
    • Even if an earlier part is incorrect, you can still earn credit for subsequent parts.
  8. Provide Thorough Reasoning for "Explain" Prompts

    • When asked to "Explain," offer in-depth reasoning rather than a simple statement as a response.
    • Support assertions with evidence or rationale to strengthen your answer.
  9. Show Work in Calculations

    • When prompted to "Calculate," include your work; providing the final solution alone may not be satisfactory to get full points.
    • Showing work is essential for receiving credit in calculation questions.
  10. AP Macroeconomics FRQ Task Verbs

    • Summarize: Provide information about a specified topic without elaboration.
    • Analyze: Provide information on how or why a relationship occurs. Graphs are acceptable.
    • Calculate: Perform mathematical steps to arrive at a final answer, with the required showing of work.
    • Illustrate: Create a graph or visual representation that illustrates or explains relationships, with labels required.
    • Present: Display, label, plot, or indicate an economic scenario on the student's graph or visual representation. Clear labeling is essential.
  11. Bring a Four-Function Calculator

    • A four-function calculator is allowed and recommended for both exam sections.

AP Macroeconomics FRQ Examples

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How can I practice Free Response Questions?

Mastering the AP Macroeconomics Free Response Questions (FRQs) requires a thoughtful and effective strategy. Here are tailored study tips to enhance your performance in this section:

  • Begin by understanding the structure of the FRQ section. Take note of the number of questions, time constraints, and point allocations for effective time management.
  • Ensure a robust understanding of fundamental macroeconomic concepts. Identify the weight of each unit in the AP Macroeconomics FRQ section, focusing more on more significant topics.
  • Engage in extensive question practice, paying close attention to incorrect responses. Understand the reasons behind mistakes, address uncertainties, and refine your understanding of critical concepts.
  • Develop a comprehensive study plan tailored for FRQs. Utilize our AP Macroeconomics study guide to set realistic goals for each study session, ensuring systematic coverage of all units before the exam.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

In the AP Macroeconomics free-response section, you have the potential to earn a total of 20 points. Your responses are evaluated based on a detailed rubric that underscores a robust grasp of macroeconomic principles and concepts, precise application of economic principles to address specific scenarios, thorough analysis and evaluation of economic relationships, and effective use of graphs or diagrams when applicable. Earning credit is contingent upon clear and concise expression, coupled with addressing all components of the question.

The FRQ section of the AP Macroeconomics exam lasts for one hour, constituting 33% of the overall exam score. The section includes three questions, with a 10-minute reading period. It comprises one long free-response question contributing 50% to the section score and two short free-response questions, each accounting for 25% of the section score.

Yes, including correctly labeled diagrams3 is encouraged, if applicable or required, in explaining your answers to FRQs.

Yes, discussing current economic events can significantly enhance your FRQ responses. Connecting theoretical concepts to real-world examples demonstrates a practical understanding of macroeconomic principles and provides relevant context to your answers. For instance, when describing recent economic occurrences, you can use the AD-AS (Aggregate Demand-Aggregate Supply)4 model to illustrate national income determination and fluctuations in the price level. Connecting the AD-AS model to real-world examples demonstrates a practical understanding of macroeconomic principles, providing a well-rounded and comprehensive response to FRQs.

Utilize the College Board® past exam questions to practice and evaluate previous years’ FRQs.


  1. (2024). AP Macroeconomics. AP Central. Retrieved December 18, 2024, from
  2. (2024). AP Macroeconomics Exam Tips. AP Central. Retrieved December 23, 2024, from
  3. (2021). AP Macroeconomics Free-Response Questions Set 1. AP College Board. Retrieved December 23, 2024, from
  4. (2024). The aggregate demand-aggregate supply (AD-AS) model. Khan Academy. Retrieved December 23, 2024, from
  5. (2023). AP Macroeconomics Free-Response Questions Set 1. AP College Board. Retrieved December 23, 2024, from

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