Is AP Comparative Government and Politics Hard? A Complete 2022 Guide

AP Comparative Government and Politics is an advanced course where you can earn college credit. See if you should take it.

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by Ellery Weil

Published on May 6, 2022

Edited by Tyler Epps
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Is AP Comparative Government and Politics Hard? A Complete 2022 Guide
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For high school students who are interested in the social sciences and politics, taking AP Comparative Government and Politics can be an exciting and interesting way to learn more about these subjects and earn college credit.

However, before you decide to take AP Comparative Government and Politics, you might want to know more about the class and how difficult it is. Should you take AP Comparative Government and Politics? Take a look and find out.

What Does AP Comparative Government and Politics Cover?

AP Comparative Government and Politics is a college-level course where students learn about systems of government and political life in countries outside the United States.

The course is designed to be equivalent to a single-semester, college-level course. While some schools offer it as a full-year course, others offer it in a single semester.

The course examines the politics and government of a variety of nations, including China, Iran, Mexico, Nigeria, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

During the course, the material is broken down into five units:

What Determines the Difficulty of AP Comparative Government and Politics? 3 Key Factors

Before you register for AP Comparative Government and Politics, there are a few factors to consider when trying to figure out how difficult the course may be and how it may impact your schedule. The AP exam pass rate and your personal subject skills are both relevant factors to consider.

The Pass Rate

AP exams take place in the spring, including the exam for AP Comparative Government and Politics. Exams are scored between 1 and 5, with 3 or higher being considered a passing grade.

Before you enroll in the course, you should check what the exam pass rate is and what percentage of students get a perfect score. The AP Comparative Government and Politics exam has a higher-than-average pass rate, and a roughly average rate of perfect scores, when compared across all AP courses in general.

AP Class/Exam Pass Rate (3 or Higher) Perfect Score (5)
AP Comparative Government and Politics 71.8% 16.6%
All AP Classes 64.2% 16.8%

Source: College Board

While the pass rate and perfect score rate of the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam suggest it is an average-to-easier course, there are other factors to consider. Some of these will be particular to your schedule and if you have room for another AP class or your personal high school and teacher quality.

The Course Material

The amount and variety of course material may determine how difficult you will find the course. AP Comparative Government and Politics covers five units across the political systems of several nations.

If you are taking this course in a single semester — as some schools offer and as the College Board originally designed the course to be taken — you will likely find it more challenging than if your school offers the course over a full year.

Your Subject Skills

One more factor in how difficult you will find AP Comparative Government and Politics is your personal subject skills.

Students who are particularly strong in the social sciences — or who have a strong interest in government, politics, international relations, and related fields — will likely enjoy the course and find it easier.

Students who are not especially strong or interested in social sciences will likely find the course more difficult.

When Should You Take AP Comparative Government and Politics?

AP Comparative Government and Politics does not have any prerequisites or requirements, aside from the fact that students should feel comfortable reading college-level material. This means it may be a good idea to take the course relatively early in your high school career, such as your sophomore or junior year. At that time, you typically won't have a large number of other AP courses making your personal schedule more difficult.

You may want to take AP Comparative Government and Politics the same year you take AP U.S. Government and Politics, if your school offers both as single-semester courses.

AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam: What You Need to Know

The AP Comparative Government and Politics exam is scored from 1-5, with the table below showing that the most common scores are a 3 or 4. The exam is divided into two sections, and you will need a score of 3 or higher to pass.

AP Comparative Government and Politics
Exam Score Number of Students Percentage of Students
5 3,212 16.6%
4 4,726 24.5%
3 5,917 30.7%
2 2,869 14.9%
1 2,568 13.3%

Source: College Board

How Is the AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam Structured?

The AP Comparative Government and Politics exam is divided into two sections. The first section has 55 multiple-choice questions. Students have an hour to complete it, making it the shorter of the two sections. It's worth 50% of your total score.

The second section has four free-response, essay-style questions. Students have 90 minutes to complete it. This section is also worth 50% of your total exam score.

How Is the AP Comparative Government and Politics Exam Scored?

The two sections are each worth 50% of their total score. However, while the multiple-choice section is weighted so that each individual question is worth the same, the free-response section is scored differently.

Within Section 2, the comparative and quantitative analysis questions are each worth 12.5% of your total score, while the conceptual analysis question is worth 11%. The argument essay is worth the most of any single question at 14%.

Section 1 50%
Multiple-choice Questions 50%
Section 2 50%
Conceptual Analysis Question 11%
Quantitative Analysis Question 12.5%
Comparative Analysis Question 12.5%
Argument Essay 14%

Source: College Board

AP Comparative Government and Politics: What Score Do I Need for College Credit?

While a score of 3 is generally considered a passing grade, many colleges only grant credit for scores of 4 or above. Or, they may grant different amounts of credit for different scores.

Each school sets its own policy. You can check online to see your college's policy regarding AP Comparative Government and Politics exam scores and what score you'll need to receive college credit.

Should I Take AP Comparative Government and Politics?

Whether or not you should take AP Comparative Government and Politics, or any other AP course, is a personal decision.

In addition to the factors discussed above, it's important to consider your personal interests, including whether you might want to study government and politics in college, and the reputation of the course at your school.

If you're still wondering whether to take AP Comparative Government and Politics, consider reaching out to students at your high school who have already taken the course. They can answer your questions about teacher quality, course structure at your school, and more.

Frequently Asked Questions About AP Comparative Government and Politics

true Is AP Comparative Government and Politics worth it?

Whether or not AP Comparative Government and Politics is worth it is, as with any AP course, a personal decision for you. For students who are very interested in politics, international relations, and the social sciences, AP Comparative Government and Politics will likely be worth taking.

However, if you are not very interested in the social sciences and already have a large number of AP classes in your schedule, AP Comparative Government and Politics may not be worth it for you.

true Is the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam hard to self-study for?

Your own study skills and preferences will determine whether or not you find it difficult to study for the AP Comparative Government and Politics exam. It is not recommended that you attempt to study for the exam without having taken the course.

However, once you have taken the course, there will be a wide variety of study materials available for you to work with leading up to the exam — from your school, online, or at your local library. You may also find it helpful to study in a group with your classmates.

true Is AP Comparative Government and Politics harder than AP U.S. Government and Politics?

AP Comparative Government and Politics is generally considered easier than AP U.S. Government and Politics.

Going by the AP exam pass rate, AP US Government and Politics is one of the hardest AP courses, with an exam pass rate of 50.4% in May 2021. This is significantly lower than the average rate of passing scores for all AP exams. It also has a lower-than-average rate of perfect scores across all AP exams.

In contrast, AP Comparative Government and Politics has a higher-than-average pass rate, and a roughly average rate of perfect scores. However, just as many factors go into how difficult any student finds an AP course, which of the courses you find most difficult is harder to predict.

Learn about the AP U.S. Government and Politics course materials and exam as well as how this AP course could impact your college applications. Several factors help determine the difficulty of an AP course and exam. Learn about the pass rate, perfect score, and course material for AP Macroeconomics. Learn how to find the "easiest" AP classes, which have more flexible study requirements, and earn college credit through classes with high exam pass rates.

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