APMacro: FRQ Hints


The FRQs do not require an essay such as you might write in APUSH or AP Lit. Think of them as being more like problems. For example, you do not need a general introduction to the topic any more than you would if you were solving a math problem. Many will require you to draw graphs, then amend the graphs to show changes. Some FRQs will show a graph and the sub questions will require you to analyze the graph and discuss the concepts involved.

There is a bit of a risk in the FRQs because there are only three questions. If you get a question on a topic that you find difficult, things may look grim for that problem. However, quite often, you will earn some points on every question because there will be some sub question with which you are familiar. Remember the goal is not perfection. If you ace the longer question and slug your way to partial credit on the shorter ones, or vice versa, you will put yourself in position to get a good score on the entire test. The total test score is the big picture; don’t lose sight of it just because you don’t know the answer to one sub question on the FRQ.

FRQs can come in any shape or size, but here are some important points to remember:

  1. Most questions contain smaller questions.
    You’ll get an initial setup followed by sub questions labeled (a), (b), (c), and so on. It’s best to label clearly the part you are answering and to use each page of your test booklet completely before moving to the next. Putting each part on a single page is not a good idea.
  2. Be consistent with your approach.
    Above all, emphasize the line of reasoning that led to your answer. If you make a statement like the price increased, be sure to explain why the price increased and carry the effects of that price change through the rest of your answer. The last part is especially important. The readers will award points for consistency in logic and analysis even if you misread the question. Stick with your line of reasoning and you will score points.
  3. Writing smart things earn you points.
    A smart answer is not witty; it is a concise, informed, and intelligent response that demonstrates your mastery of economics.  For each sub question on a FRQ, you receive points for writing a correct response to the prompt. The more points you score the better off you are on that question. In general, the FRQ readers use a rubric that acts as a blueprint for a good answer. Every sub section of a question has two to five key ideas attached to it. If you write about one of those ideas, you earn a point.

FRQs frequently include key words or phrases that are clues pointing you toward the shape and content of a good answer. SOme of the key words and phrases:

  • Identify prompts an assertion on the data or other information. Make sure to support your assertions with evidence.
  • List prompts a bulleted list of items.
  • Define prompts you to write out the definition of a term.
  • Draw a correctly labeled graph prompts you to draw the proper graph, using correct labels and correct curves. Changes in graphs should be clearly noted with notations like D to D1 or directional arrows. Show is a key word meaning that new equilibriums should be clearly noted and labeled on the graph.
  • Explain always means that an assertion will not be enough. You are required to offer a clear account of the reasoning behind your assertions. 

When constructing your answer to the FRQs, don’t rush or leave your thoughts incomplete. The readers will not fill in the ideas or connections that you omit. Do your best to write complete sentences and always strive to express your ideas clearly.



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