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Cracking the AP U.S. Government & Politics Exam, 2012 Edition (College Test Preparation) Paperback – September 6, 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

The Princeton Review is the fastest growing test-preparation company in the country, with over 60 franchise offices in the nation. Each year, we help more than 2 million students prepare for college, grad school, professional licensing exams, and successful careers.

Tom Meltzer has taught for The Princeton Review for over 11 years. He is one of several authors of The Best 331 Colleges and has written numerous tests, manuals and other materials for Princeton Review courses.
Paul Foglino has also taught for The Princeton Review for more than a decade and has authored tests and materials for many of its courses, most recently for the MCAT.
Paul and Tom are also musicians; they perform together in a band called Five Chinese Brothers. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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Product Details

  • Series: College Test Preparation (Book 12)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Princeton Review (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375427368
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375427367
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 0.7 x 10.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #311,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
I had 5 other AP classes that semester and AP GOV't class quickly became a
place to finish up homework in other classes. I barely payed any attention to lectures and honestly never really got time to read the book. I became concerned when second semester rolled along and the AP Exams were looming. I got the Princeton Review book and basically read the whole book through in about a week before the exam. I learned a semester's worth of information in about 3-4 hours. Trust me it's possible, the AP exam can test you on only so much. You don't have to religiously memorize this book but you have to know the book quite well. The test was notoriously easy and I got a 5 - end of story. As long as you come just a step short of memorizing this book, you WILL get a five - even if you never paid attention in class. Don't tell me that this book is not enough - it's written by the chief AP Grader for crying out loud - it gives you just exactly what you need to know, nothing more - don't go with Barrons and spare yourself extra time and effort.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I recommended that my AP US Government students buy this book because I think it is the best with regards to the curriculum alignment. I especially think that the practice tests are more aligned with real AP multiple choice exams than 5 Steps.

Two things that could be better:
1. Some of the information (even in the practice tests) is random and not likely to appear on the AP exam.
2. The free response questions are not configured or scored the way real AP free response questions are done. They aren't written in the format that is always used. A student is much better off completely disregarding the free response questions in the book and using the actual, released FRQS (plus rubrics) found on the Collegeboard website.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Impeccable. Need I say more?
Whether you need a study guide to use in conjunction with the class, or last minute resource for the AP exam, this is the book for you. While I didn't use it for the former, I did use it extensively for the latter. Thus, this review will speak of my experience using this book to study for the AP US Government and Politics Exam.
Unlike the AP textbook you'll likely receive in class, this book is terse and to the point. Though it's pithy, it still contains EVERY key term you need to know for the exam; all of which are in bolded text and include a structured, well-organized outline of what each term entails. For example, the chapter on the Judiciary delineates the process by which the Supreme Court hears an appellate case and breaks it down into distinct steps. Not only does each step elucidate the seemingly esoteric process, but it also catalogs the salient terms of each step. Such terms include: amicus curae brief, rule of four, writ of certiorari, judicial conference, solicitor general, attorney general, etc. The point is, this book provides a comprehensive guide to the course yet still manages to exclude any futile or excess information.
As for the 2 included practice exams, I would contend that their rigor is on par with that of the actual AP exam. After having thoroughly read and memorized the book—a process which took about 8 straight hours— I took each practice exam. First of all, time was not an issue at all: I finished each test in 15 of the allotted 45 minutes. Secondly, I scored 59/60 on the first test, and 60/60 on the second one.
My only issue with this book is, as another review previously stated, the practice exams' free response questions are not really representative of those of the real exam's.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I am so thankful for this book. I basically used government class as a study hall the entire year, so without this book I would have failed. Luckily, our classroom tests happened to be very closely aligned with the AP exam, so before every unit test I would read the corresponding chapter in this book while highlighting key information, and then read the chapter again. That's it. Compared to the (busy) work assigned in most classes, this book is great; it weeds out the important stuff, gives you a handy glossary (know all those terms and you'll get half the questions on the AP test right), gives you TWO practice tests (I only had time to complete one, but I recommend at least doing both sets of FRQ's), and basically saves you a load of time and worry. What I love most about this book is that the information is concise, but it doesn't skimp on words when explaining concepts; everything I had trouble wrapping my brain around suddenly "clicked" when I read this book. I will say that rushing through this book the week before the test doesn't guarantee you a five; what you put into it is what you get out of it. For me, it was especially useful to highlight and sometimes take notes in the (huge) margins, since I tend to skim passages without absorbing anything. Needless to say, without this book I wouldn't have gotten a five.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Well-organized and dense presentation of material. Appreciate the expanded explanations in the practice exams, as these help tap into the logic of an exam and improve test-taking strategy. Introducing questions for thought and terms at the beginning of every chapter also helps.

Edit: I do not claim the subtle partisanship in this book is intentional. It may well have gone unnoticed by the authors themselves-- as can happen with any of us-- or they may even be left-leaning people trying to overcompensate for fear of being accused of bias in the other direction.

I am not a Democrat, and did not vote for President Obama, however, I did notice a fairly consistent habit of using Democrats for negative examples and Republicans as positive, though it's not a blanket pattern. The worst example of partisanship, however, is use of the term the "Democrat Party", rather than "Democratic Party". The term "Democrat Party" is closely identified with Joseph McCarthy-- he of the Red Scare witch hunts-- who meant this as a subtle semantic insult, one more recently picked up on and used by the Tea Party, and has even gained ground among supposed 'moderate' Republicans. Seeing the phrase in an academic work is really just unacceptable. Further, the authors slip in some unnecessary descriptors, such as calling Reagan "expert" and "masterful" on several occasions, which are both over the top for an academic work.

We also see some glaring errors of omission, glossing over critical context, or even rewriting history, such as an implied criticism of the Post Office for not turning a profit.
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