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AP Macroeconomics

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AP Macroeconomics

This article is part of the
Advanced Placement series.
General exam structure    •    Awards
Current subjects:
In development:
Former subjects:

Advanced Placement Macroeconomics (also known as AP Macroeconomics, AP Macro, or simply Macro) is a course offered by the College Board as part of the Advanced Placement Program for high school students interested in college-level coursework in macroeconomics. Study begins with fundamental economic concepts such as scarcity, opportunity costs, production possibilities, specialization, comparative advantage, demand, supply, and price determination. Major topics include measurement of economic performance, national income and price determination, fiscal and monetary policy, and international economics and growth. AP Macroeconomics is frequently taught in conjunction with (and, in some cases, in the same year as) AP Microeconomics, although more students take the former.


  • Topic outline 1
    • I. Basic Economic Concepts (8%-12%) 1.1
    • II.Measurement of Economic Performance (12%-16%) 1.2
    • III. National Income and Price Determination (10%-15%) 1.3
    • IV. Financial Sector (15%-20%) 1.4
    • V. Inflation, Unemployment, and Stabilization Policies (20%-30%) 1.5
    • VI. Economic Growth and Productivity (5%-10%) 1.6
    • VII. Open Economy: International Trade and Finance (10%-15%) 1.7
  • The exam 2
  • Grade Distribution 3
  • Criticism 4
  • External links 5

Topic outline

I. Basic Economic Concepts (8%-12%)

A. Scarcity, choice, and opportunity costs
B. Production possibilities curve
C. Comparative advantage, absolute advantage, specialization, and exchange
D. Demand, supply, and market equilibrium
E. Macroeconomic issues: business cycle, unemployment, inflation, growth

II.Measurement of Economic Performance (12%-16%)

A. National income accounts
Circular flow
Gross domestic product
Components of gross domestic product
Real versus nominal gross domestic product
B. Inflation measurement and adjustment
Price indices
Nominal and real values
Costs of inflation
C. Unemployment
Definition and measurement
Types of unemployment
Natural rate of unemployment

III. National Income and Price Determination (10%-15%)

A. Aggregate demand
Determinants of aggregate demand
Multiplier and crowding-out effects
B. Aggregate supply
Short-run and long-run analyses
Sticky versus flexible wages and prices
Determinants of aggregate supply
C. Macroeconomic Equilibrium
Real output and price level
Short and long run
Actual versus full-employment output
Economic fluctuations

IV. Financial Sector (15%-20%)

Financial sector:

A. Money, banking, and financial markets

  1. Definition of financial assets: money, stocks, bonds
  2. Time value of money (present and future value)
  3. Measures of money supply
  4. Banks and creation of money
  5. Money demand
  6. Money market
  7. Loanable funds market

B. Central bank and control of the money supply

  1. Tools of central bank policy
  2. Quantity theory of money
  3. Real versus nominal interest rates

V. Inflation, Unemployment, and Stabilization Policies (20%-30%)

A. Fiscal and monetary policies

  1. Demand-side effects
  2. Supply-side effects
  3. Policy mix
  4. Government deficits and debt

B. Inflation and unemployment

  1. Types of inflation
  2. Demand-pull inflation
  3. Cost-push inflation
  4. The Phillips curve: short run versus long run
  5. Role of expectations

VI. Economic Growth and Productivity (5%-10%)

Economic Growth and Productivity:

A. Investment in human capital
B. Investment in physical capital
C. Research and development, and technological progress
D. Growth policy

VII. Open Economy: International Trade and Finance (10%-15%)

A. Balance of payments accounts

  1. Balance of trade
  2. Current account
  3. Capital account

B. Foreign exchange market

  1. Demand for and supply of foreign exchange
  2. Exchange rate determination
  3. Currency appreciation and depreciation

C. Net exports and capital flows

D. Links to financial and goods markets

The exam

  • Section I: Multiple Choice (70 minutes - worth 2/3 of the exam grade)
  • Section II: Free-Response (60 minutes - worth 1/3 of the exam grade)

Section I consists of 60 questions. The multiple-choice portion of the exam is constructed to reflect the weighting of topics on the AP Macroeconomics Topic Outline (above). For example, test-takers should expect to find between 3 and 6 questions of the 60 total questions on the multiple choice section pertaining to "economic growth" because Unit VI. Economic Growth and Productivity should comprise 5%-10% of the course material studied.

Grade Distribution

The grade distribution for 2008-2015 were as follows:

Score 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015[1]
Number of Students 68,009[2] 73,817[3] 83,146[4] 90,134[5] 99,903[6] 108,219[7] 117,209[8]
5 14.9% 15.7% 14.4% 13.1% 13.9% 14.6% 16.1% 13.8%
4 22.7% 25.2% 25.6% 24.0% 23.9% 23.2% 23.2% 22.0%
3 15.2% 15.8% 15.2% 16.7% 18.0% 16.6% 18.5% 17.3%
2 19.8% 16.2% 16.6% 18.2% 17.8% 19.1% 17.5% 17.5%
1 27.5% 27.1% 28.1% 28.0% 26.3% 26.6% 24.7% 29.4%
Mean 2.78 2.86 2.82 2.76 2.81 2.80 2.89 2.73


Tawni Ferrarini, James Gwartney, and John Morton have argued that the examination does not adequately cover recent advances in the field, writing that "[t]he AP macroeconomics exam and resources largely reflect the simplistic Keynesian view from the 1960s and 1970s."[9]

External links

  1. ^ 2015 AP Score Distributions - Total Registration
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^
  9. ^ Tawni H. Ferrarini, James D. Gwartney, and John S. Morton, "Advanced Placement Economics: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly," Econ Journal Watch 8(1) (January 2011), 67. [1]
  • AP:Macroeconomics
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