AP US Government Practice Test: Branches of Government

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Question 1
Questions 1–4 refer to the passage below:

Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive. It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in that department of the government, though they may sometimes obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end. That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the disadvantages of dissension in the executive department. Here, they are pure and unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measure to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the Executive which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition, vigor and expedition, and this without any counterbalancing good. In the conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended from its plurality.

—Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 70
 
Hamilton argued against having a plural executive. What was his main idea?

A
A plural executive would be too powerful.
B
The jarring of political parties in the executive branch would obstruct justice.
C
A plural executive would be embarrassing when compared to other countries.
D
A single executive is more capable of taking decisive action than a plural executive.
Question 1 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Hamilton’s main argument is stated in the fifth sentence and then rephrased in eighth and the final sentence. He states in several places that a plural executive would be weak, so answer (A) may be eliminated. The “jarring of parties” is in the legislative branch, so answer (B) is wrong. The word “embarrass” means “complicate” in this context, so answer (C) is incorrect.
Question 2
Questions 1–4 refer to the passage below:

Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive. It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in that department of the government, though they may sometimes obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end. That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the disadvantages of dissension in the executive department. Here, they are pure and unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measure to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the Executive which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition, vigor and expedition, and this without any counterbalancing good. In the conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended from its plurality.

—Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 70
 
According to Hamilton pluralism in the legislative branch a good idea for all of the following reasons EXCEPT

A
Pluralism encourages deliberation.
B
Pluralism checks excesses of the majority.
C
Pluralism encourages the legislature to act quickly.
D
Pluralism encourages competition between political parties.
Question 2 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). According to the fourth sentence, pluralism or the “jarring of parties” (D) in the legislative branch causes deliberation (A) and checks excesses of the majority (B). If something acts deliberately, then it acts slowly. Therefore, answer (C) is correct.
Question 3
Questions 1–4 refer to the passage below:

Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive. It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in that department of the government, though they may sometimes obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end. That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the disadvantages of dissension in the executive department. Here, they are pure and unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measure to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the Executive which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition, vigor and expedition, and this without any counterbalancing good. In the conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended from its plurality.

—Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 70
 
Which article of the Constitution best fits The Federalist No. 70?

A
Article I
B
Article II
C
Article III
D
Article VI
Question 3 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Article I (A) is the legislative branch. Article II (B) is the executive branch. Article III (C) is the judicial branch. Article VI (D) is the supremacy clause.
Question 4
Questions 1–4 refer to the passage below:

Upon the principles of a free government, inconveniences from the source just mentioned must necessarily be submitted to in the formation of the legislature; but it is unnecessary, and therefore unwise, to introduce them into the constitution of the Executive. It is here too that they may be most pernicious. In the legislature, promptitude of decision is oftener an evil than a benefit. The differences of opinion, and the jarrings of parties in that department of the government, though they may sometimes obstruct salutary plans, yet often promote deliberation and circumspection, and serve to check excesses in the majority. When a resolution too is once taken, the opposition must be at an end. That resolution is a law, and resistance to it punishable. But no favorable circumstances palliate or atone for the disadvantages of dissension in the executive department. Here, they are pure and unmixed. There is no point at which they cease to operate. They serve to embarrass and weaken the execution of the plan or measure to which they relate, from the first step to the final conclusion of it. They constantly counteract those qualities in the Executive which are the most necessary ingredients in its composition, vigor and expedition, and this without any counterbalancing good. In the conduct of war, in which the energy of the Executive is the bulwark of the national security, every thing would be to be apprehended from its plurality.

—Alexander Hamilton, The Federalist No. 70
 
Which of the following developments did Hamilton not anticipate in The Federalist No. 70?

A
Legislative inaction
B
The rise of political parties
C
Growth of the federal bureaucracy
D
An increase in national security threats
Question 4 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Hamilton did not anticipate the growth of bureaucracy. Pluralism in the bureaucracy has made it difficult for the executive branch to take action, especially in domestic matters. Hamilton mentions the obstructionist nature of a pluralistic legislature (A) and the “jarring of parties” (B) in the first half of the paragraph. He also makes points about security threats (D) at the end of the paragraph.
Question 5
Questions 5–6 refer to the chart below:

What is the next step in this process shown above?

A
Introduced in the Senate
B
Debated by the full Senate
C
Referred to a conference committee
D
Referred to a joint committee
Question 5 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). After a bill is approved by one house it must go through the entire process all over again in the other house. If the two houses pass different versions of the bill then the bill is referred to a conference committee (C), which is a temporary joint committee (D).
Question 6

What is the furthest point that most bill get?

A
Referred to committee
B
Reported out of committee
C
Scheduled for consideration
D
Debated by full house
Question 6 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). More than 90 percent of all bills are referred to committee but are never voted on. They “die” in committee.
Question 7
Questions 7–8 refer to the map below:

What is depicted in the map?

A
Card stacking
B
Franking
C
Gerrymandering
D
Logrolling
Question 7 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Gerrymandering is the selective drawing of electoral boundaries to give one political party an advantage over another political party. Card stacking (A) is a propaganda technique. Franking (B) is the practice of Congressmen sending mail home to their constituents free of charge. Logrolling (D) is the practice of the practice by which two or more legislators exchange votes for each other’s proposed legislation.
Question 8

Which of the following is true of gerrymandering?

A
It usually leads to more competitive elections.
B
It reduces the importance of primaries.
C
It tends to increase partisanship in Congress.
D
It is generally favored by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.
Question 8 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Gerrymandering often leads to less competitive elections, since districts are drawn in a such a way to group voters who are in the same party. The primary may end up being more competitive than the election, which increases the importance of the primary. Gerrymandering is widely used and supported by both Republicans and Democrats. With less competitive elections there is a greater chance for more extreme candidates to win, leading to greater partisanship.
Question 9
Questions 9–10 refer to the map below:

The judicial vacancies shown above must be filled by the president and confirmed by

A
a simple majority of the Senate.
B
a 60% majority of the Senate.
C
a two-thirds majority of the Senate.
D
a simple majority of each house of Congress.
Question 9 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). This is a recall question. A 60% majority (B) is required for a vote of cloture. A two-thirds majority (C) is required for treaty ratification. A simple majority of each house of Congress (D) is required to confirm a vice-presidential nominee should the office of vice president become open.
Question 10

Which of the following statements is true based on the data in the graph?

A
Party polarization has decreased over time.
B
The period 1977 to 1994 was a period of unified government.
C
Appelate judges are retiring at a faster rate than district judges.
D
Both Democrats and Republicans have engaged in obstructionist tactics.
Question 10 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). Party polarization causes obstructionism, so answer (A) can be eliminated. One might think that the low amount of obstructionism before 1994 might have been a period of unified government, but in reality, there were several years of divided government in that period. Therefore, answer (B) can be eliminated. There is no way of knowing if answer (C) is true. Answer (D) must be correct because the Senate engaged in obstructionist tactics under presidents from both major parties.
Question 11
Members of veteran groups are concerned about the lack of counseling available to veterans who have recently returned home form war. They petition the Department of Veterans Affairs for better services, but the veterans group does not believe that patient care improves to a satisfactory level. They then lobby a congressional committee, and the committee threatens to investigate the Department of Veterans Affairs.
 
The scenario above illustrates

A
bureaucratic non-compliance.
B
an iron triangle.
C
an issue network.
D
a political action committee at work.
Question 11 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). An iron triangle consists of a bureaucratic agency, a related congressional committee, and a related interest group. Issue networks (C) are similar to iron triangles in that they involve experts on an issue, but they are free-forming and do not necessarily involve government officials. Bureaucratic non-compliance (A) is plausible but does not fit the scenario exactly. Political action committees (D) raise money to influence elections or legislation.
Question 12
Which of the following models of representation is a Congressmen most likely to follow when voting on a domestic issue that affects her district or state?

A
The delegate model
B
The partisan model
C
The politico model
D
The trustee model
Question 12 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). Congressmen who view themselves as delegates follow the will of their constituents. Partisans (B) follow the will of their party. Trustees (D) follow their own instincts, especially in fields in which they are experts. Politicos (C) balance all three interests based on whatever policy areas they confront.
Question 13
If the president cannot get his agenda through Congress, then he may use which of the following techniques to appeal directly to the people of the United States?

A
The bully pulpit
B
An executive order
C
A signing statement
D
A veto threat
Question 13 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (A). The president is the only elected official (except for the vice president) who is elected by all the American voters. Presidents will often try to influence the people by speaking directly to them from their “bully pulpit.” An executive order (B) is a directive issued by the President of the United States that manages operations of the federal government and has the force of law. A signing statement (C) is written pronouncement issued by the president upon signing a bill into law. Threatening to veto some other legislation (D) could cause congressmen to negotiate, but it does not fit the question as well as answer (A).
Question 14
Which of the following has NOT increased the power of the executive branch over time?

A
Bureaucratic rule-making
B
Modern broadcast media technology
C
National crises
D
The Twenty-Second Amendment
Question 14 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). The Twenty-Second Amendment limits the president to two full terms in office. It was enacted after Franklin Roosevelt was elected to four terms. At the time, proponents of the amendment argued that allowing someone to serve more than two full terms was a threat to American liberty. Bureaucratic rules (A) have the force of law but are not approved by Congress. Thus, they enhance executive branch power. Modern broadcast media (B) draws attention to the president and away from Congress, which also enhances his power. Finally, people look to the president to take swift action during national crises and are willing to invest more power in him (C).
Question 15
Over which kind of policy is the president most likely to assert his authority over Congress?

A
Education policy
B
Environmental policy
C
Foreign policy
D
Healthcare policy
Question 15 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). The president in commander-in-chief of the armed forces and is the United States’ chief diplomat. Therefore, he has broad discretion over foreign policy. All three other policies are domestic policy. Domestic policy-making is shared with Congress.
Question 16
Bureaucrats who see themselves as career government officials are likely to be

A
appointed to office.
B
elected to office.
C
hired through the civil service system.
D
hired through the patronage system.
Question 16 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Bureaucrats are not elected to office, so answer (B) may be eliminated. Political appointees (A) can be career-government officials but are more likely to come from outside government. Bureaucrats who get their jobs through the patronage system get their jobs as rewards for political favors. Patronage is usually illegal and was largely replaced by the civil service system in 1883, which requires job candidates to be qualified for their jobs.
Question 17
Which of the following is an accurate comparison of the House and the Senate?

A
A
B
B
C
C
D
D
Question 17 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (B). Article I, Section 7 of the Constitution states that revenue bills are initiated in the House. Article II, Section 2 states that the Senate gives advice and consent on treaties. All of the other descriptions are reversed.
Question 18
If Congress disagrees with a federal court’s decision, then it has all of the following legal options except

A
changing the law.
B
changing the court’s jurisdiction.
C
proposing a constitutional amendment.
D
overruling the judge with a two-thirds majority in each house of Congress.
Question 18 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). There is no way for Congress to overrule a judge. The other three choices are permitted under the Constitution, though answers (B) and (C) rarely occur.
Question 19
Which Supreme Court case established judicial review.

A
Baker v. Carr (1961)
B
Brown v. the Board of Education (1954)
C
Marbury v. Madison (1803)
D
Shaw v. Reno (1993)
Question 19 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (C). Marbury v. Madison established the principle of judicial review, providing courts the power to strike down laws, statutes, and government actions that contravene the U.S. Constitution. This helped to define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches.
Question 20
Which of the following positions do NOT require Senate confirmation?

A
Ambassadors
B
Cabinet secretaries
C
Federal judges
D
White House Chief of Staff
Question 20 Explanation: 
The correct answer is (D). As head of the White House Office and one of the president’s closest advisers, the president may choose whomever he wants to be his Chief of Staff. Ambassadors (A) and federal judges (C) are explicitly listed in the Constitution as requiring Senate confirmation. The cabinet (B) is not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution. But public ministers, consuls, and Officers of the united States require Senate confirmation, and it was understood at the time the Constitution was written that the cabinet fell into these categories.
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