Should I Take: AP Microeconomics and/or AP Macroeconomics?

Ryan Nguyen

“I think any student could take it and do well, as long as they have the willingness to try.”

Rising seniors may be intimidated at the prospect of enrolling in an economics class next school year, much less an AP economics course. In the 2016-2017 school year, AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics was combined into one year-long course, but in the 2017-2018 school year, the courses have been divided again.

Rising seniors are required to forecast for a total of 1.0 social studies credit to graduate, given that they’ve passed all their previous social science courses. This means that students have an option of enrolling in a semester each of regular Government and regular Economics to fulfill that requirement. However, students are also able to choose a single year-long AP social science course without having to take the other. For example, a student could enroll in both AP Microeconomics and AP Macroeconomics — a total of 1.0 social science credit — without having to enroll in AP U.S. Government and Politics, and vice versa. It is strongly encouraged, however, that students have a taste of both social science courses to be able to understand these concepts in post-graduate life. This could mean taking a semester of regular Government while also enrolling in both AP economics classes.

For students considering taking only one AP economics course, AP Microeconomics is strongly recommended, as AP Microeconomics is a prerequisite for AP Macroeconomics. But what’s the difference between the two classes?

AP Microeconomics is the branch of economics concerned with the minute cost-benefit analyses that consumers and producers make on a day-to-day basis. Sound confusing? You probably understand some of the underlying concepts already. The idea that individuals should perform actions when the benefits outweigh the costs? Cost-benefit analysis. The idea that having too much of something can eventually become detrimental? The law of diminishing marginal returns. The idea that buying in bulk can save money in the long run? Congratulations, you can understand economies of scale.

Economics, as a whole, is the study of how humans must rationally decide between certain goods and services to maximize their own happiness, with a thin veneer of its applications to production and wealth over it. Students interested in entering the fields of business, law, and politics should definitely consider enrolling in one or both courses.

“I don’t think you need AP experience for [this class].”

“I thought that [AP Economics] was going to be terrifying and really hard and that I was going to be crying with a ton of homework every day,” says senior Naomi Grant. “But it’s not that bad.

“I haven’t taken any AP classes before this year, but it’s a lot different. It’s really nice. You go over [topics] more in-depth, and I feel that you learn a lot more, and it’s not just [rote memorization. It’s a lot more interesting], and it makes you want to learn more.”

Current AP Economics teacher Gina Smith stated, “I would say that I wish more students within a diversity level would try this class… because I don’t think you need AP experience for [this class].

We asked Smith about what students considering enrolling in the course should do.”I would have them come and ask me questions but more so, talk to other people and then you would probably be able to figure out if it’s the right class for you. I definitely don’t want students taking it and not liking it, but for me, I think any student could take it and do well, as long as they have the willingness to try.”

“The economy is such an amazingly huge portion of every policy decision, and [students] need to know how that works.”

Stock markets? Inflation and deflation rates? The velocity of money? If these terms make your head dizzy, consider taking AP Macroeconomics. In this course, students look at the big picture of the economy, as opposed to individual decision making. The curriculum focuses on studying measures of economic performance (e.g., unemployment and inflation rates) as well as monetary and fiscal policy.


The Wall Street street sign. (Photo: Chris Li)

Senior Austin Wolf gives his advice to students considering enrolling in AP Macroeconomics. “Do it. Do it. You’re learning how the world works.

“The economy is such an amazingly huge portion of every policy decision, and [students] need to know how that works.”

“I think that being able to see the world in economic terms,” begins current AP Economics teacher Gina Smith, “or through an economic lens is very helpful in understanding politics or world issues.”

In both classes, the assignment structure is the same. Students are assigned nightly readings — usually a single chapter of the textbook, which can range from 12 to 20 pages — which are then discussed in class. At the beginning of every unit, Smith assigns a study guide to fill out whilst doing these readings, the former is turned in by students before every unit exam. Graphing is also a key staple of the class, and Smith provides PowerPoints for each unit that are excellent overviews of each chapter. You can find all of Smith’s coursework here, at her website.

“[AP Economics] is definitely a challenge, but it’s doable,” states Wolf.

“[Ms. Smith] just makes a boring subject, honestly, really interesting and engaging.”


Smith speaking in front of the class. (Photo: Jennifer Jasso)

As an AP class, students can earn four transferable college credits in each AP economics class. In total, that’s a possible eight college credits. 2013 AHS Graduate Jeremy Kusnadi stated during a lecture to the AP Economics class that, because of his AP Economics credits, he was able to enroll in 300-level economics courses in his freshman year of college.

“I think the writing style is very doable for all types of people,” says Smith when asked about the study guides. “but the content itself… you have to be an individual that likes to work at something.

“[Students] learn how to be adults. I believe with the way the class is structured, it’s very student-centered, so they have to become adults and have to understand how to move through curriculum or coursework that best fits them.”


The AP Economics class gets settled in. (Photo: Jennifer Jasso)

“The most difficult thing about AP Econ is the workload,” says senior Matthew Byers. “The kind of students that take this class are driven and interested in economics.”

“If you’re the kind of student who back talks the teacher,” begins Wolf, “I’d say, [do not take this class]. If you’re a student who can’t buckle down and do their homework, absolutely not. But, if you’re capable of trying and able to show respect [to the teacher], you’ll be fine.”

Smith agreed. “Students that shouldn’t take this class are students who aren’t willing to try.”

“[Mrs. Smith] does a really good job of teaching AP Econ, and I cannot think of a better teacher in the school who could teach the class.”

“Once you can fully understand the concepts,” begins senior Isaak Lee, “it’s not a difficult class at all. It’s just a lot of work. It’s also hard keeping up with the AP pace. Other than that, it’s not that difficult of a class.

“The wording of the test questions, and what they expect you to know is probably the most difficult part. You learn the concept, but the way that [AP exam questions are worded] makes it a lot of work.

“[Mrs. Smith] does a really good job of teaching AP Econ, and I cannot think of a better teacher in the school who could teach the class. She’s really engaging with her students, and she is really funny. She’s really good at teaching the concepts and helping you understand them. She’s usually always there in Access Tutorial for people who need help. She’s a great teacher and she’s what makes AP Econ so great.”


Note: Answers have been edited for length and/or clarity.


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