AP Economics – Macro and Micro




Make sure you’ve outlined your pace so that you’re able to teach the entire syllabus and your kids are prepared.  Here’s a link to my website (https://sites.google.com/site/mrhopkinssocialstudieshome/ap-economics-calendar).  It may help for pacing plus there are videos, PowerPoints, and related articles for each topic of the AP curriculum.



Graph early and graph often. Someone, I believe it is Dean, has a website with all of the old FRQs listed by what they cover, use it to teach concepts, and show what they test looks like. Our FRQs are very different from what APUSH and APWH have. Those want lots of words, and we want very few, and breaking the kids of that can be difficult.




Get your hands on the Morton activities, they are pretty good for concepts and models. http://reffonomics.com/reff/index.html has great overviews and activities of most of the Macro curicullum, and they are constantly updating it. If you can, go to a summer institute, there are always great things there.

Models, models, models… If the students are able to draw and manipulate the models, they should have no problems passing the test. Have them work together in pairs to help correct each other, then have the pairs pair up into groups of four. Have them make large models on the poster size 3M paper and display it on the walls outside the classroom, so they them everytime they pass your room. There is of our other things than the models on the test, but if they know them, the rest should be easy!

Textbook selection for me is simple, Krugmans Economics for AP*.

Why?  In my exploration of over 30 textbooks, there are really only two suitable texts for AP econ students, McConnell and Brue et al, and the afore mentioned text.  Both cover the material needed to do well on the AP exams.  Both are quite readable.  Of the two, Krugman offers the most ease of adoption because it is delivered in 80 modules which contain one concept per module.  What ever order in which  you want to deliver the material it is easy to do using the Krugman module text.  With conventional chapter books ( now those trained in elementary ed. don’t laugh at my use of the term, chapter book) you often have to break chapters into sections, have kids ignoring graphs and supplements, stop mid sentence etc.  which can be very awkward.  The modules make it easy to prepare for, easy to test, and easy to assign material.  Each module has its own review section.  Chapter reviews are combersome.

Political Bias?  Many of you have heard me say this before.  I read Krugman cover to cover, honestly I did and I did most of it by candlelight after a day’s bird hunting, and I found the smoking gun of liberalism once.  When he was discussing the highest paid person in professional sports and he used a SOCCER player.  How liberal can you possibly get?  Soccer!  However, my son told me that that soccer player IS the highest paid player in professional sports.  OK, so Krugman is correct, but a REAL man would have used a player form the NFL.  You and I both know it.

Mankiw?  Really a nice book to read.  Maybe the best reading of all texts out there.  But here is where I find political bias.  Why does his approach to Loanable Funds so confuse so many instructors?  It is designed to emphasise crowding out not to explain Loanable funds.  And actually, his approach to  Lonanable funds is really difficult to apply.  Fifteen years ago, his book was ground breaking.  Game theory, consumer surplus, long-term growth were all the best.  Now most everyone wh is serious about keeping their book up to date has matched or surpassed him on these three.  And the module system of delivery is just the best new concept out there for textbooks.  ANd confusion among economics teachers.  If you read this electronic discussion group for a year, you will find more confusion about Mankiw’s handling of topics than any other author.   Don’t worry, in the long-run poor textbooks will disappear, unitl then…? Buyer Beware.


AP courses are suppose to be as rigorous as the typical university course it displaces.  Not enough AP teachers understand this fully.  And certainly far too few of our students want this.  But this is the premise under which I operated so I had required outside readings of books, two per semester.

Years ago, while still an undergraduate, a teacher I much admired told me that he felt a good course should have a solid textbook, a solid instructor (not the author of the textbook), and out side readings (suggested one book per credit).  That way a student would have three sources of information.  The text, the instructor, and the readings.

My out side reading suggestions for Macroeconomics are:

The Choice by Russel Roberts.  Without a doubt his best work.  Why mutually beneficial international trade is good for us.

Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan. A writer for the Economist magazine who lived in Chicago and vacationed in Wisconsin.   An over view of the US economy with out using graphs, jargon, or formulas.

Hard Heads, Soft Hearts by Alan Blinder. Ex-vice chair of the Fed. After all these years it is still a good read.  How republicans tend to have hard heads and hard hearts, while democrats tend to have soft heads and soft hearts.  And that good policy can be hard headed (good economics) and soft hearted (gentle on the under-class).

Free to Choose by Rose and Milton Freidman.  Also old, but if kids want to hear what old fashion republicans used as their touchstone, this is a good book.

Thinking Strategically by Nalebuf and Dixit.   Still the classic for game theory.  This is for the math gifted student.  It is of course micro, but still.

Globalize It by Brendan January.  After a kid has read The Choice (a rather polyannish look at trade, they should read this.)  A look at international trade that may not be truly mutually beneficial once externalities are considered.

Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert.  For the kid who loved psychology.  This starts out psychology and the next thing you know it is behavioral econommics.

Worldly Philosophers by Robert Heilbroner.  A brief biographical sketch of many of the top historic economic thinkers.

How To Lie With Statistics by Gary Huff.  For kids not taking the AP exam.  As old and simple as this one is, kids are surprised by its contents.

The Lessons of History by Ariel and Will Durant.  After writing a multi-volume history of the world, They summarized the important findings.  OLD, and Euro-centric.  For non-AP exam students who like history.  Make sure yo read the section on Race and History before your student does.

I will post my Micro recommendations on the Micro list.

Want to reduce nation-wide medical spending?  Lower the medicare age eligibility to 64.  Same procedures cost Medicare far less than the other alternatives for a 64 year old.  More and more talking-heads have discovered this plum.

Want to reduce nation-wide medical spending?  Change the law congress passed so medicare can negotiate lower fees and reimbursements.  And so studies can be conducted by the governemnt to find the most efficacious treatments.

wayne iNWI, ust be living in paradise


Hi all,

I have use Too Big To Fail which also has the supplementary video from PBS. Fantastic. I have also used some of Marshall Jevons books for fun – they are fictional stories about economicst and economic theory. Light reading and enjoyable with economics woven throughout. Paperbacks. I have also used Freakonomics. Honestly I don’t care too much for it, however, it makes for GREAT discussion/debate in class with the students – they seem to always love it. I usually assign one chapter per student and they run the discussion about it.My students have also enjoyed Naked Economics by Charles Wheelan and The Wal*Mart Effect by Charles Fishman. Bull By The Horns is great by Sheila Bair.I think the book on Steve Jobs is great, but long…Liar’s Poker,The Big Short, The Blind Side (or any of the books) by Michael Lewis are also favorites. These are some of the books I’ve used and had success with.



Naked Economics is very good.  A student who knows nothing about economics could read that during the summer for example and be much more prepared to take on AP Micro and Macro.  It does a wonderful job of using the real world to illustrate numerous economic topics; basically giving students a nice base from which to start without boring them to death.  Public goods and externalities are two topics that are easy to understand within the context of Naked Economics.

Freakonomics is a little more dense with statistics and research used in their examples, and therefore may appeal to students with these interests. I have yet to use it in class.
I actually have no time for extra reading in my AP Economics classes but have been using Naked Economics for my Intro to Econ course this year and I’ve been very pleased with the results.  I have used what amounts to 10 page excerpts to reinforce lessons on public goods and externalities specifically.  School policy may not allow me to require summer reading but I’ll be recommending it to the incoming students.
For students who you know are big readers but don’t think economics matters, you might suggest Confessions of An Economic Hit Man by John Perkins.  It’s a fairly quick read, especially if you have an interest in politics and history.  It might get them fired up and more interested in the field.

Leave a Comment