missing image


Quick Links

Course Materials

What You Should Already Know

There are no prerequisites for this course. However, there are some preliminary assessments to help you be aware of the course requirements.

You are required to take the orientation quiz before you continue to ensure that you are ready to begin the course, and then you need to complete the course pretest to measure what you already know. Neither item counts toward your course grade, and you are not expected to know most of what is on the pretest.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course is based on the learning objectives that are associated with the “big ideas” and “enduring understandings” listed in the AP U.S. Government and Politics curriculum framework. Big ideas focus on major concepts in U.S. government. Enduring understandings (EUs) focus on a particular aspect of a big idea to highlight the level of understanding required for AP students to be successful. EUs are numbered to correspond with the big ideas; for example, EU 1.A is the first concept under big idea 1.

Big Ideas

  1. Constitutional Democracy: The U.S. Constitution arose out of important historical and philosophical ideas and preferences regarding popular sovereignty and limited government. To address competing states’ visions for the allocation of governmental authority, compromises were made during the Constitutional Convention and ratification debates, and these compromises have frequently been the source of debate and negotiation in U.S. politics over the proper balance between federal and state power and between liberty and social order.
  2. Civil Liberties, Civil Rights: Through the U.S. Constitution, but primarily through the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment, citizens and groups have attempted to restrict national and state governments from unduly infringing upon individual rights and from denying equal protection under the law. Sometimes the Supreme Court has handed down decisions that protect both public order and individual freedom, and at other times the court has set precedents protecting one at the expense of the other.
  3. American Political Culture and Beliefs: American political beliefs are shaped by founding ideals, core values, and the changing demographics of the citizenry. These beliefs about government, politics, and the individual’s role in the political system influence the creation of ideological trends that span decades impacting public policies.
  4. Political Participation: Governing is achieved directly through citizen participation and indirectly through linkage institutions (e.g., political parties, interest groups, and mass media) that inform, organize, and mobilize support to influence government and politics, resulting in many venues for citizen influence on policy making.
  5. Interaction Among Branches: Because power is widely distributed and checks prevent one branch from usurping powers from the others, institutional actors are in the position where they must both compete and cooperate in order to govern.

Enduring Understandings (EUs)

1.A. A balance between governmental power and individual rights has been a hallmark of American political development.
1.B. The writing and ratification of the Constitution emerged from the debate about weaknesses in the Articles of Confederation and was the product of important compromises.
1.C. The Constitution creates a complex and competitive policy-making process to ensure the people’s will is accurately represented and that freedom is preserved.
1.D. Federalism reflects the dynamic distribution of power between national and state governments.

2.A. Provisions of the Bill of Right are continually being interpreted to balance the power of government and the civil liberties of individuals.
2.B. The due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment has been interpreted to prevent the states from infringing upon basic liberties.
2.C. The Fourteenth Amendment’s “equal protection clause” has often been used to support the advancement of equality.

3.A. Citizen beliefs about government are shaped by the intersection of demographics, political culture, and dynamic social change.
3.B. Widely held political ideologies shape policy debates and choices in American politics.

4.A. Public opinion is measured through scientific polling, and the results of public opinion polls influence public policies and institutions.
4.B. The various forms of media provide citizens with political information and influence the ways in which they participate politically.
4.C. Political parties, interest groups, and social movements provide opportunities for participation and influence how people relate to government.
4.D. Although laws and amendments have expanded voting rights in the U.S., voting participation varies widely from election to election.
4.E. The impact of federal policies on campaigning and electoral rules continues to be contested by both sides of the political spectrum.

5.A. The republican ideal in the U.S. is manifested in the structure and operation of the legislative branch.
5.B. The presidency has been enhanced beyond its expressed constitutional powers.
5.C. The design of the judicial branch protects the court’s independence as a branch of government, and the emergence and use of judicial review remains a powerful judicial practice.
5.D. The federal bureaucracy is a powerful institution implementing federal policies with sometimes questionable accountability.

Course Materials


Glen Krutz, American Government, OpenStax College, 2016.

You can download the PDF, view the text online, or purchase a printed copy through the OpenStax site.

Be aware that the file size is 31MB if you use the download option.

(Back to top)


There are 10 units in this course, each consisting of several lessons. Each lesson contains a textbook reading assignment, course readings, and a self-check quiz; the self-checks are ungraded questions that will help you measure your comprehension of the lessons and prepare for the unit quizzes and the final exam.

Unit Quizzes

Each unit has a unit quiz. These quizzes test your ability to analyze and interpret the reading selections. Unit quizzes are each worth 3 percent of your overall course grade, amounting to 30 percent total.

Cumulative Reviews

There are also two cumulative reviews (one after unit 5 for units 1–5 and one after unit 10 for the whole course), which are worth a total of 4 percent of the grade.

Like the unit quizzes, these computer-graded assignments consist of multiple-choice questions that will test your understanding of the concepts learned in the course. The first covers the concepts learned in units 1–5; the second covers the concepts learned in units 1–10. Because these assignments cover concepts from several different units, they are longer than the normal unit quizzes. However, they are worth a smaller percentage of your grade to help you relax and use them as refreshers on the important course concepts.

To prepare for these cumulative review assignments, review all of the self-check and unit quiz questions from the previous units, and make sure you review the readings from each lesson. These assignments do count toward your final grade.

Written Assignments

You will be completing written assignments for each unit throughout the course. Some units have instructor-graded assignments; other units have self-scored assignments. There is also one extra-credit assignment.

The instructor-graded assignments are worth a total of 34 percent of your course grade. They will help you apply what you have learned in the unit and will prepare you for the written portion of the AP exam.

You will also have self-scored assignments, which are worth a total of 8 percent of your course grade. You will select your score based on the guidelines that are provided with each assignment, and the instructor will spot-check your work on these review items.

The extra-credit assignment is a discussion board topic. You will respond to a question using specific evidence and will give insightful (helpful) comments on posts from other students. This assignment will provide extra practice in providing credible evidence for your arguments.

You will need to submit the assignments in the modules throughout the course before the taking the final exam.

Course Resources

Appendix materials are available in the Course Resources folder and may be helpful in completing your assignments and preparing for the AP exam.

Additionally, the Course Resources folder includes a general discussion board and a course wiki. The discussion board allows students to talk about course topics with each other; the wiki is designed for the instructor to post information that may provide enrichment or to post relevant information for the course.

(Back to top)


The final exam is worth 24 percent of your grade and covers reading selections and discussion material that you will study in the course. It consists of about 50 multiple-choice questions.

(Back to top)


Your grade in this course is composed of your unit quiz scores, assignment scores, and final exam score. The following table shows the percentages for each assignment.

Assignment Percentage
Unit 1 Quiz 3%
Unit 2 Quiz 3%
Unit 3 Quiz 3%
Unit 4 Quiz 3%
Unit 5 Quiz 3%
Cumulative Review 1 2%
Unit 6 Quiz 3%
Unit 7 Quiz 3%
Unit 8 Quiz 3%
Unit 9 Quiz 3%
Unit 10 Quiz 3%
Cumulative Review 2 2%
Instructor-Graded Assignment Submissions (1 at 4%, 1 at 6%, and 3 at 8% each) 34%
Self-Scored Assignment Submissions (8 at 1% each) 8%
Final Exam 24%
Grading Scale
A 93–100
A− 90–92
B+ 87–89
B 83–86
B− 80–82
C+ 77–79
C 73–76
C− 70–72
D+ 67–69
D 63–66
D− 60–62
E (fail) 59 or below

(Back to top)

Copyright Notice

The materials used in connection with this online course are only for the use of students enrolled in this course for purposes associated with this course and may not be retained or further disseminated. Any copying or further dissemination of these materials may be subject to applicable U.S. Copyright Laws. For questions or more information, please visit the BYU Copyright Licensing Office website.

“Members of the BYU community who willfully disregard this Copyright Policy or the BYU Copyright Guidelines place themselves individually at risk of legal action and may incur personal liability for their conduct. The unauthorized use or distribution of copyrighted material, including unauthorized peer-to-peer file sharing, may subject individuals to civil and criminal liabilities, including actual and statutory damages, costs and fees of litigation, fines, and imprisonment

Violations of the Copyright Policy may result in university disciplinary action including termination of university enrollment or employment.” (Emphasis added. Excerpt taken from the BYU Copyright Policy)

(Back to top)

University Policy - Title IX Statement

Preventing & Responding to Sexual Misconduct

In accordance with Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, Brigham Young University prohibits unlawful sex discrimination against any participant in its education programs or activities. The university also prohibits sexual harassment—including sexual violence—committed by or against students, university employees, and visitors to campus. As outlined in university policy, sexual harassment, dating violence, domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking are considered forms of "Sexual Misconduct" prohibited by the university.

University policy requires all university employees in a teaching, managerial, or supervisory role to report all incidents of Sexual Misconduct that come to their attention in any way, including but not limited to face-to-face conversations, a written class assignment or paper, class discussion, email, text, or social media post. Incidents of Sexual Misconduct should be reported to the Title IX Coordinator at t9coordinator@byu.edu or (801) 422-8692. Reports may also be submitted through EthicsPoint at https://titleix.byu.edu/report or 1-888-238-1062 (24-hours a day).

BYU offers confidential resources for those affected by Sexual Misconduct, including the university’s Victim Advocate, as well as a number of non-confidential resources and services that may be helpful. Additional information about Title IX, the university’s Sexual Misconduct Policy, reporting requirements, and resources can be found at http://titleix.byu.edu or by contacting the university’s Title IX Coordinator.

(Back to top)

Accessibility Notice

BYU is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere which reasonably accommodates persons with disabilities who are otherwise qualified to participate in BYU's programs and activities. In this spirit, BYU Independent Study aspires to improve web accessibility for users. While not required by law, the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 Levels A and AA provide a wide range of helpful recommendations to make Web content more accessible. BYU Independent Study strives to apply WCAG 2.0 recommendations where feasible, but may deviate from any recommendations that would result in an undue hardship to BYU Independent Study or alterations to program and course content and objectives. If you have questions about accessibility, or if you need to report problems with any accessibility features please see our Accessibility and Accommodations Web Page.

(Back to top)

missing image

Course Policies

These policies are specific to this course. For additional information about general policies, please refer to Independent Study Course Policies page.


12 computer-graded assignments; 8 self-scored essays; 5 instructor-graded submissions; may be resubmitted once.

Final Exam

1 computer-graded, proctored exam, may retake once, must pass in order to pass the course.

You must pass with a score of sixty percent or higher in order to pass and earn credit for this course. There is a time limit of 50 minutes on the exam. You will not be allowed to reference any notes or course materials.

Course Duration

Because of the nature of some assignments, you will not be able to complete this course in less than 2 months. You have 1 year to complete this course, but if you need more than a year, you may purchase one 3-month extension.

Getting Help

Please use the help menu in this course to contact Independent Study or your instructor. You can find a list of free tutors available to BYU Independent Study students on the Free Tutoring Services website.

Inappropriate Use of Course Content

All course materials (e.g., outlines, handouts, syllabi, exams, quizzes, media, lecture content, audio and video recordings, etc.) are proprietary. Students are prohibited from posting or selling any such course materials without the express written permission of BYU Independent Study. To do so is a violation of the Brigham Young University Honor Code.

Plagiarism Policy

Plagiarism is defined as the unauthorized use or close imitation of the language and thoughts of another author and the representation of them as one’s own original work. This may also include when a student copies and pastes directly from another source and passes it off as his or her own, copies computer-generated text from a translation tool and uses it as his or her own, or fails to cite a source after loosely summarizing its content in his or her own words.

As determined by your instructor or the BYU Independent Study administration, if evidence of academic misconduct on assignments or exams is established, one of the two following consequences will apply to each incidence:

First Offense of Plagiarism

  • You will fail the unit and be allowed the opportunity to resubmit the unit (or)
  • You will fail the unit and be denied the opportunity to resubmit the unit

Second Offense of Plagiarism

  • You will fail the unit and fail the class (or)
  • You will fail the unit, fail the class, and may be ineligible to enroll in a specific course or any of our courses without going through an appeals process which will determine the severity of your plagiarism