My short bio: My name is Justin Egan. I teach Social Studies at the High School of Fashion Industries in NYC. Last year's AMA was received very well, so I am back to help answer any questions that you have before the AP U.S. Government and Politics exam.

My Proof: Here is last year's AMA with proof:

I will be answering questions until 7:30 am EST on Tuesday so get your questions in. I am more the happy to take other non-exam specific questions, but I will not answer those until after the exam.

Edit: Obviously have to watch GOT. Keep the questions coming. Will answer sometime tomorrow!

Edit 2: I will be answering questions afterschool today. Make sure you upvote the questions you want me to answer. The AMA this year was alot bigger than last year so I don't know if I will be able to answer everything, but I will try!

Edit 3: Good luck tomorrow. Make sure you get your 8 hours of sleep and keep a good healthy breakfast tomorrow!

Comments: 1147 • Responses: 56  • Date: 

logawill697 karma

What's the answer to #3?

mrjegan1140 karma


Zeus1325793 karma

I'm actually gonna answer c for #3 and if I get it wrong I'm coming back here and down voting you. If it's right I'll give gold

Edit: I'll remember what the question is and look it up after test. Of course I will never discuss the multiple choice questions in accordance with all college board policies

edit 2: Im gonna raise the stakes. This will be have to done in july. (Though the original stays in place)


1- Two down votes

2- One down vote

3- Nothing

4- One gold

5- Two gold

Edit 3: following AP guild lines I will not discuss any multiple choice questions. But here's your gold

Edit 4: reddit charged me double and gave OP double gold. Oops

mrjegan281 karma

So right now I both have reddit gold and don't have reddit gold.

mrjegan10 karma

TY for the gold. I would like to tell my college board overlords that I made the same joke last year. I will make the same joke next year.

ThoricCanine423447 karma

Could you expand upon what the War Powers Resolution did and how that affected the U.S. gov't? Thanks!


Also crossposted to /r/APstudents which has posts of good resources for this exam!

Once again, thanks Mitta Egan. You DA Best!

Also, does anyone know what the best thing is to sacrifice to the AP Gods?

mrjegan696 karma

They love to put the War Powers Resolutions on the AP Exam because it is a great example of checks and balances.

In the Constitution, power is divided between the Congress and the President. Congress has the ability to declare war with a two-thirds vote in both houses. President as commander-in-chief has the ability to decide how said war is waged.

During Vietnam, Congress passed the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution. The resolution gave LBJ and future presidents the authorization to basically do whatever was necessary to ensure peace in Southeast Asia, including the use of military force. This was significant because Congress gave LBJ a blank check to use military force in Vietnam without a declaration of war. As a result, direct U.S. military involvement increases, and we get entrenched in Vietnam.

As the 1960s and 1970s progressed and public opinion soured on the war. The Pentagon Papers were leaked. The Pentagon Papers were leaked and suppressed by Nixon. (make sure you know New York Times v. US - 1971 - prior restraint is illegal). Nixon had secretly began to bomb Cambodia and Laos without telling Congress.

Congress decided that giving the President power to do whatever he wanted was not a good idea and upset checks and balances. The War Powers Resolution, passed in 1974, placed limits on presidential war making power. Congress has to now be notified within 48 hours of the use of military force by the president and can only remained on the ground for 60 days (with an extra 30 days to withdraw for a total of 90 days) without authorization by Congress. The effect of this is that it decreased presidential power to use military force and increased Congress power to check the president.

It also noteworthy that we have not actually declared war since WWII.

They also love to put the War Powers Resolution on the exam because Nixon vetoed it and was overridden by Congress.

ThatOneUpittyGuy318 karma

As a undergrad poli sci student, I think you explained that even better than most professors I've had.

mrjegan126 karma


DeeMI5I049 karma

The effect of this is that it decreased presidential power to use military force and increased Congress power to check the president.

Did it actually decrease the power of the President in practice, though? After troops have been deployed it is very politically unpopular for Congressmen to vote to recall them - it's why they've done it so rarely.

mrjegan83 karma

Well since Wilson asked for a declaration of war in WWI, no president that has asked for war powers has been denied. It's counterfactual, but if the President didn't have to ask Congress for authorization, don't you think we would have been in more wars? Just the fact that the President has to ask Congress for approval means that the President has to at least justify military action to the public instead of just acting whenever he wanted.

GoGetJoe21 karma

So we've not declared war but been in countless armed conflicts. How does this jive with, say, occupying the middle east and engaging terrorists?

mrjegan36 karma

Congress passed a resolution to get the President the ability to fight terrorism. Some thing the President has overstepped his power, but we won't know unless there is a Supreme Court case.

ROCtheCasbah-40 karma

Aw, this is an adorable rationalization of how US empire works. You're the kind of high school teacher our masters adore!

mrjegan4 karma

Why do you think we have public education?

enmunate2813 karma

Why did congress give the president a 60-day blank check to put troops on the ground? Shouldn't congress be asked first?

mrjegan71 karma

I think you have to put into context with the Cold War. We were REALLY close to an actual nuclear war with the Soviets only in the early 1960s.

HanaHonu391 karma

From what I have heard, and my own experience, World War I is rarely taught other than through a historical blip that later added to WWII's rise.
With that, the Korean War was mostly taught as "a lot like Vietnam, but somewhere else".
Why do you think this is often the case? Academic schedule restrictions? Maybe they're just not as important as their successors? Perhaps another reason?

mrjegan419 karma

I think one of the problems we have ,especially in the United States with courses like Social Studies, is that we equate academic rigor with learning a lot of content. There is so much content that teachers in New York State have to cover for the Regents exams that it is difficult to do everything in the detail that it deserves.

HanaHonu32 karma

Thanks for the answer, I definitely agree that standardized testing like that often poses too many obstacles for teachers to effectively teach their courses.
For a follow up, if you don't mind, what do you equate academic rigor and success with? I think 'learning a lot of content' is generally regarded as a good thing; unless, you meant to say trying to cover too many things and too little depth. In which case I agree

mrjegan74 karma

Content is important but also equally important to transform students from passive learners to active learners that use critical thinking skills.

I think that another part of academic rigor that is overlooked are the assessments. If you just have to memorize a bunch of facts for a multiple choice exam, is that really a rigorous assessment that measures skills needed to be sucessfully in the 21st Century?

For a course to be truly rigorous it needs the skills and assessments not just the content.

chimmeh007294 karma

I graduated in 2011. If you've been teaching at least that long, what has changed in terms of the content you teach?

mrjegan509 karma

9/11 Patriot Act War in Iraq War in Afghanistan War on Terrorism Financial Crisis of 2008 Election of Obama

Drewey0524154 karma

I'm taking that test. Any Pro tips that my teacher may have missed?

mrjegan518 karma

I don't know what tips your teacher gave but make sure that you add "fat tires" to your FRQs. If it asks for two examples, give three. The grader will only grade your best two examples and no penalty will be given if the third one is wrong.

CallingForDooty70 karma

This is the complete opposite for AP Biology. My teacher stated do not give more than what you're asked for. You can give less or give the necessary amount, but not more. So you're saying this doesn't apply to AP Gov?

mrjegan101 karma

Can't speak for the AP Bio test, but you can give extra examples for AP US Gov. Readers have to read all of them.

WakaWokao35 karma

I'm in gov right now, and my teacher said the exact opposite. Putting more examples than what is asked for does not give you more points, and if one is wrong then a penalty will be given.

mrjegan132 karma

Doesn't give you extra points but does not result in a penalty. This was a tip from Larry Keiger, a very experienced AP teacher and wrote the Crash Course review book from REA.

Sniksder16106 karma

What court cases should I spend the most time studying?

mrjegan211 karma

This is my list:

DeeMI5I046 karma

How important is knowing the dates of cases?

mrjegan140 karma

You don't necessarily need to know specific dates but its important to know where the cases are in the context of political history. Like for example, Barron v. Baltimore when we were in the dual federalism (layer cake) era the Supreme Court ruled Bill of Rights didn't apply to the states. After the Civil War with the passage of the 14th amendment and start towards cooperative federalism (marble cake), the court begins the selective incorporation (super important concept) of the bill of rights to apply to the states as well.

Antinerf30 karma

What about the NYT vs US ruling?

mrjegan31 karma

yes that should be there too for prior restraint

CaptainWub81 karma

I just took my AP exam for Chemistry and I have to say that it was really stressful. Any tips on how to stay calm during the exam when I take a different AP exam next year?

mrjegan74 karma

I think Mindfullness Meditation can help. It's something you can do in only 5-10 minutes a day. I've used HeadSpace before there are also alot of resources online these days (I'm sure there is a subreddit).

My wife also helped work on an app for iOS while she was getting her phD called Personal Zen that gamifies anxiety reduction.

highabovethebest77 karma

Given the current situation in politics with the presidential candidates; in which direction, in your opinion, do you think the country is headed if Trump is president or if Hillary is president? Also, in your opinion, what would the worst result if the USA decided to adopt even more socialistic ideals? In the even Bernie is president?

seditiousseals91 karma

If he doesn't respond, I think this is a great answer from a High School economics teacher.

mrjegan104 karma

That's a great video. He's the guy that does the Economics Crash Course and I use his stuff all the time.

To relate it back to the AP Government curriculum, make sure you know what James Madison wrote in Federalist 10. He goes on talking about factions. In the modern sense, we viewed what Madison called factions as political parties and interest groups. Madison articulates what later in the 1950s and 1960s becomes known as pluralism.

There were some concerns during the debate about ratification of the constitution that if you make the federal government too powerful, a faction could rise up to control government and oppress its rivals for power. Madison argues against this by saying since we are such a big country with so many different factions and interests competing for power, it is really hard when you factor in checks and balances for one factions to take control of the government. Any major chances are slow and incremental.

Even in cases like FDR and the New Deal, where you had Democrats controlling Congress and the Presidency, FDR's ambitions were tempered by the Supreme Court declaring many of his programs unconstitutional.

I think its also important to note that most Americans are moderates. A lot of the partisan rhetoric we hear during primary season is because the candidates from both parties are targeting the party base. You will see Trump (maybe?) and Clinton begin to take more moderate positions during the presidential campaign as they begin to target the broader electorate.

Also the Founding Father intended for bad ideas to be removed from office through elections and voting. If whoever becomes President is truly awful the people will speak during the midterm elections in 2018 and the presidential election in 2020.

unkp12968 karma

I've always been really confused about this: What is the difference between civil rights and civil liberties?

DeeMI5I0130 karma

Civil liberties are protections for your rights from the government - EX: freedom of speech, freedom of assembly. The government can't censor your speech or break up peaceful protest, but a newspaper can refuse to print your words and if you protest on private property you can be asked to leave. That's why those things are liberties. Incorporated through the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Civil rights are positive actions the government takes to create equal conditions for people based on protected classes (i.e. race, religion, gender, sexuality). So, preventing hiring bias (ex: through the ADA) or laws governing affirmative action. Usually apply to the private sector/non-government situations, but I believe can also apply to governmental discrimination. Found primarily in the equal protections clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

(How'd I do? :P)

mrjegan87 karma

Very good :). The other key hint is that Civil Liberties deal with the Bill of Rights and other protections in the Constitution (haebus corpus, bills of attainder, ex post facto laws).

sircolincollins11 karma

So you could say Civil Liberties are more aimed towards individuals, while Civil Rights are more for certain groups/ the population?

mrjegan82 karma

no both are about individuals. Liberties are things that government cannot do to individuals. Rights are things that society can't do to individuals

ipunchtrees65 karma

My dream is to teach world history AP or US history. I'm 18, about to graduate high school what would be my best course of action to succeed in that dream, also how competitive is the job market for social studies?

mrjegan93 karma

Very competitive. Alot of History majors and not much else you can do with it besides get a PhD.

In college, make sense you have relevant experience working with kids. Most college usually have some mentoring program with local schools that you can volunteer for. There are a ton of jobs like tutoring and summer camps that you can do as well.

If you really want to get a head, get dual certified in special education or learn spanish and get an ESL license.

crazy3133146 karma

What are the typical demographics for each party, Democrat and Republican? (Ex. African Americans tend to vote Democrat)

mrjegan95 karma

The big one is women. Women by a big margin tend to support Democrats for each party. Its known as the gender gap.

The more education one has the more likely you are to support Republicans but that wasn't really true in 2008.

African-Americans today support Democrats and inside the Democratic caucus they are more liberal than the typical Democrat. Election of FDR was a critical election because you saw a big shift of black support from the Republicans to the Democrats.

After the Civil War, the south used to be called the solid south because of how consistently they voted for Democrats. But as the Democratic party began supporting civil rights with the policies of Truman, Kennedy, and LBJ, white southerners began to shift to the Republican party. Nixon famously targeted white southerners during his election in what was known as the "Southern Strategy." White southerners have been a core part of the GOP base ever since.

Other Democrats / Republicans: Young / Old Jews-Catholics/Protestants lower income/higher income

MikeMo24332 karma

I'm going to be taking the government exam in 2 days, do you know of any "super cram" videos for the exam? Also, I've missed 2 or 3 chapters, do you think it would help to read them the day before the exam?

mrjegan71 karma

C-SPAN does a yearly cram for this exam review. This years was this Saturday:

Previous Years:

On YouTube, I like the Crash Course series and HipHughes.

Review Books: AP US Government Crash Course

ada4229 karma

Do you love Hamilton?

mrjegan6 karma


aipom4521 karma

Have you ever graded essays for the AP? If so, how was that experience?

mrjegan35 karma

No but I do plan on doing it one day. The AP releases all the grading guidelines on there site every year so that is very useful to get.

CallingForDooty18 karma

What are the most necessary elements needed to know about the specificity of the three branches and bureaucracy?

mrjegan30 karma

Three branches and bureaucracy make up like 50% of exam. We could be here a very look time if I go into specifics. One thing I would do is look up the old FRQs on the three branches and make sure that you can answer them. Sorry if that is a cop out answer.

DeeMI5I014 karma

In APUSH the teachers often say 'if you have something interesting to say, you win your grader over immediately' - so, for example, they ask about women and 90% of people write about the middle-class women's movement, but you write something that answers the question but is different (diary of a slave girl, poor women's movements, etc. idk)

Is there an equivalent for AP Gov? Where there's a way to approach the question that will kind of win your grader over?

mrjegan69 karma

FRQs are very straight forward. Just answer the question.

trashykoban12 karma

I've been told bureaucracy may be a very important component on this upcoming test. Other than the fact that it has some discretion in implementing policies with congressional/executive oversight, what else do you think may be tested?

mrjegan29 karma

Make sure you can discuss Iron Triangle (Congressional committee-Department-Interest Group).

DeeMI5I05 karma

Don't bureaucratic departments want funding for the primary purpose of regulating their sectors? Why would they trade promises of lax regulation for more funds if that's the main place their funds go?

I definitely see "what's in it" for Congressmen and interest groups, but not so much for bureaucrats (whose jobs are pretty damn stable)

mrjegan10 karma

One thing to keep in mind is that bureaucrats develop strong loyalty for their department, they want to see their department carry out its mission. Congress controls the funding of the bureaucracy and has oversight power. Can't work if Congress is investigating them or not giving them money.

The special interest come in and donate to various congressman, so they can go to the bureaucrat and say something like "if you lighten up on this regulation, i can get this congressional committee to support this other thing you want to do."

rainer519 karma

Currently in the education program at a university in alabama. They promote a lot of project based learning. What do you feel are the pros and cons of project based learning?

Edit: also do you think it translates well into standardized testing?

mrjegan8 karma

I think there are alot of merits to project based learning, but just like any model of teaching it has to be done well. I would worry more about good teaching then translating something well into standardized testing. If your lessons/units are designed properly with backwards design and standards based and you implement effective instruction, you will have good results on tests. Two great books that are must reads: Never Work Harder Than Your Students and Understanding by Design.

gaxel179 karma

Hey can you explain what I need to know about Iron Triangles? In class it always seemed like a whirlwind of information and I'm not sure I completely understand it no matter how much it has been brought up.

zzBoom8 karma

did Monroe have sex with JFK?

mrjegan22 karma

Maybe, but the media definitely protected JFK. Politicians couldn't get away with stuff like that today.

Pnk-Kitten7 karma

Best wishes my friend. I hate testing month. Do you feel that your job is more on the line because of the school you work at, or do you feel less concerned if your students score poorly?

mrjegan68 karma

AP Scores aren't used to evaluate teachers in NYC. I do view it as a social justice component. 75%-80% of studnets at my school get free or reduced priced lunch. I know that some of the students in my classes live in shelter. If I can get those kids college credit and save them thousands of dollars then that is huge from them and their family.

Huffy1984 karma

what are the main things i should know as i am taking it tuesday/ cn you give me a good explanation of party polarization? it is when members of one party are loyal and have extreme views and refuse to negotiate with others?

mrjegan3 karma

There been a trend the last couple of years of the Democrats becoming more liberal and the Republicans getting more conservative. This has resulted in a lack of compromise between the two sides resulting in gridlock.

You have also seen a trend since the Nixon years of citizens having an unfavorable opinion of government and lack in belief that their political opinion and participation matters (political efficacy). You also have trend of people disenrolling with a political party and becoming independents.

Selbeven4 karma

Hi, thanks for doing this AMA!
Do you have any predictions on what the FRQ topics will be? My own AP gov teacher had a couple of topics such as selective incorporation and campaign finance. Thoughts?

mrjegan7 karma

There will also be one on the three branches.

TUbit172 karma

Do you know Susan pojer? She was my teacher and famous for her website

mrjegan3 karma

Great PowerPoints ;)

MillionSuns2 karma

What are the most common pieces of information students tend to confuse? I'm taking this test and while I know 90% of the information, there's a small chunk that starts to get fuzzy.

mrjegan2 karma

Civil Liberties Vs Civil Rights

Powers of the House Vs Powers of the Senate

Different Types of Federal Agencies

Different Types of Committees in Congress

Xuralei2 karma

Can you give us a quick overview of the entire course and the most important terms and other things?

mrjegan2 karma

yes i can

DeRais2 karma

Does your district make you put an enormous amount of pressure on the kids for SOLs and virtually none for the AP exam? I was stuck in APUSH for 4 weeks going over remedial things to prep for the SOL, after we took the AP exam with less than a week of prep.

mrjegan4 karma

US Gov is a senior year class and we don't have any state exams in New York for social studies senior year. The APUSH kids have regents exams in June though.

BigFatKoolAid1 karma

Did Brown v Board overturn Plessy v Ferguson? Or just establish that then current conditions were not separate but equal?

mrjegan2 karma

It did but just in schools so this is why the Civil Rights Act was needed as well. The exam loves these two cases because its an example of an informal method of amending the constitution. As society changes, Supreme Court can alter its interpretation of the constitution.

jkimfinity1 karma

Could you explain linkage institutions how exactly they're different from other institutions?

mrjegan5 karma

Linkage institution connect citizens to government. The three you need to know are:

News Media- Provides information and coverage of political issues, elections, etc.

Interest Groups- People can join groups to advocate and fight for certain issues. If you want to help promote the rights of gun owners you can join the NRA.

Political Parties: Citizens that join political parties and help the party get their candidates elected.

Bucsfan4991 karma

I'm also a social studies teacher, in Florida. Not sure it works the same way in NYC, down here the AP teachers get a bonus for each student that passes the exam. I think that regular teachers (non AP) should get a cut of the bonus because we take all the lower performing students, delinquents and esol students out of the pool of kids you have to teach. Essentially, we make it possible for you to teach only higher level kids. Is this an idea you would get behind, assuming it works the same up there?

mrjegan1 karma

I wish I got a bonus haha. But we dont really have the population to have a teacher teach all classes. I also think that its BS with how experience teachers get the good kids and the new teacher get the bad kids. Should really be the other way around. More experienced staff should get the more challenging students.

the_time_weaver1 karma

This is my first AP exam ever. Any helpful tips for nerves/forgetting an answer/all my pencils breaking/sneezing all over my exam?

mrjegan2 karma

When I took the SAT, I was super nervous. I was sneezing all over my scantron. Snot and some heavy erasing resulted in a huge hole on my scantron. Moral of the story: bring tissues and you wont mess up as much as I did.

Korezzed1 karma

I got 3's on AP Euro and AP US History but I'm not taking AP Gov this year. Do you think I could've done it?

mrjegan1 karma


MisterRuntay1 karma

I'm going through the '5 Steps to a 5' book currently and trying to take in as many of these fine points as possible, but there is a lot of material. What are some pillars that are absolutely necessary to know to earn college credit from this test, a '4 steps to a 4' if you will?

mrjegan2 karma

Three Branches are the key to the exam. There will be at least FRQ on them and probably like 40% of the MC.

thekdude0 karma

What amendments do you think are most likely to be asked about on the exam, and what are the important supreme court cases that go along with them?

mrjegan1 karma

I posted a list of cases. Bill of Rights and the 14th Amendment. Selective Incorporation is HUGE for both knowing the amendments and the Supreme Court cases.

lecherous_hump-8 karma

Why is it that female high school teachers who get caught sleeping with students are always hot? And why doesn't it happen with male teachers as much? Have you ever considered it yourself?

mrjegan18 karma

While it is important to know that the media is a linkage institution that connects people and government, it is also important to know that much of the news media is made up of for profit commercial enterprises. Stories like that sell papers, generate page clicks, and generate mediocre posts on reddit ;).

carlinha1289-12 karma

Your post was removed. Previous AMA's don't count as proof. Please resubmit new proof and I'll re-approve your post.

carlinha1289-7 karma

Perfect! It's re-approved, thank you. You might want to edit your original text and copy the new proof there too :)

mrjegan1 karma

ok done