A guide to Advanced Placement Government and Politics


Lauren Kaller

On May 12, 2023, fourth period AP Government and Economics participates in an outdoor activity to gain a better understanding of the relationships between workers, product and profit. As motivation to win, students race against the clock, hoping to beat the times of their peers in other class periods.

Beatrice Barnes, Writer

This article is a continuation of the Advanced Placement (AP) series that helps students understand what to expect when signing up for AP classes at Foothill Technology High School (Foothill Tech). 

With summer rapidly approaching, the time has come for students to begin thinking about and preparing for the classes they have signed up for next school year. AP United States Government and Politics (AP Gov) is taught by Cherie Eulau in room I-109, and is typically taken by seniors at Foothill Tech. In this newly designed class, students will gain a deeper understanding of fundamental aspects of our government while partaking in classroom discussion and debate. According to College Board, five main units are covered in this course; foundations of American Democracy, interactions among branches of government, American political ideologies, political participation, civil liberties and civil rights. At Foothill Tech, the first semester is mainly dedicated to government and AP Exam preparation, while topics relating to American politics and economics are explored in semester two. 

In a competition, two students race to move as many plastic balls from one side of the quad to the other. As the timer continues, their cheering classmates watch in anticipation, looking for winning score. This engaging activity provides an exciting way for students to learn and understand the curriculum of the class. (Lauren Kaller)

AP Gov is for everyone, even students that are hesitant to enroll in a college-level course. Little textbook reading is required, and compared to other AP classes at Foothill Tech, the workload is relatively light. “It’s a very doable class even if you’ve never taken an AP class before,” shares Eulau. Keira Kent ‘23, a current AP Gov student notes, “There wasn’t too much homework but there was always the unit map.” Unit maps are a recurring homework assignment where students review main topics and vocabulary terms from class. “It was pretty tedious, but I feel like it prepared me for the AP Gov Exam,” continues Kent. 

To earn college credit from AP Gov, students must pass the AP exam in the spring. The AP Gov exam does not include a data-based question, or a document-based question (DBQ), which is why Eulau explains that there are “not the same pressures as other [AP] tests,” such as AP United States History. Nevertheless, students must be well versed in their knowledge and ready to write an argumentative essay and answer the various “short answer” questions that appear on the test. 

In-class debate is another integral part of the class, and students can expect to engage in dynamic conversation regarding current political events and problem solving. Students will gain a nuanced understanding of how government is supposed to function versus how it does function and will be able to discuss complex questions such as, “What is the greatest threat to our democracy?” 

Mock elections and Supreme Court trials are two yearly projects where students get to apply their knowledge in an interactive learning environment. The mock election takes place in both the AP and College Prep (CP) courses, where students create their very own political campaign. In AP Gov, classes also get to participate in a mock trial and choose their own Supreme Court case to investigate. “We do a case that the Supreme Court has heard but not yet decided… it’s sort of a cliffhanger,” comments Eulau. 

Despite being an advanced class, AP Gov is not something to be intimidated by, and contrary to popular belief, “you don’t have to be someone who… keeps up on current events every single day to do well in the class. I would encourage anyone who’s vaguely interested in taking it to take it. The reality is, in terms of classwork and the AP exam… the class itself is not current events, it’s how government works,” Eulau concludes. 

Especially since Foothill Tech students are required to take a government class to graduate, AP Gov is a perfect fit for students who crave riveting peer discussion, are interested in learning to better understand and preserve democracy or are simply dedicated to becoming well educated members of society. Kent shares, “I would recommend this class because you’re being informed on current events and stuff that is going to be applicable to you in the near future,” which is why reasons to take AP Gov extend far beyond earning high school and potentially college credit. Eulau’s passion for relating class subjects to current events makes AP Gov thought provoking and applicable, allowing this class to serve as an approachable introduction to Foothill Tech’s vast offering of advanced courses.  

What do you think?