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By sunshinecavalluzzi
On April 14, 2019

Lesson Plan: AP Government Key Terms Review (Unit by Unit)

"It Really Does Become a Vocabulary Test in Many Ways"

During the 2017 Cram for the Exam AP Gov preparation broadcast, government teachers Andrew Conneen discusses the importance of knowing key terms and their synonyms to success on the exam.


This lesson is aligned with the framework for the redesigned Advanced Placement Government and Politics course and can be used in pieces at the end of each unit or as a review device at the end of the course. For each unit, a table of key terms with linked C-SPAN resources to help extend knowledge is provided, as well as a Quizlet and a Kahoot providing practice with unit-relevant terms. The review games and activities provided at the bottom can be utilized with any or all units' terms; more review game/activity options are also available in the lesson plans linked in the "Resources" section below.


  • Unit One: Foundations of American Democracy

  • Unit Two: Interactions Among Branches of Government

  • Unit Three: Civil Liberties and Civil Rights

  • Unit Four: American Political Ideologies and Beliefs

  • Unit Five: Political Participation

  • Applying Knowledge: Review Activity Options

    • CAPTION CONTEST: Choose a variety of "action shot" pictures related to government and politics. Task students with writing captions for the pictures utilizing key terms. This can be done as either a "Gallery Walk" activity or via a GoogleDoc so students can easily see each others' captions.

    • BLIND LINE: Write six terms on scraps of paper, fold them, and place them in an open area of classroom flooring. Have two students begin an improv scene based on a government scenario that you've selected. Periodically, each student needs to reach down, pick up a term, and incorporate it into the next thing he or she says in the scene. Then repeat with new terms and different students. (NOTE: This can also be executed in groups of four, but that format works better if you have student actors who already have improv experience.)

    • CONFERENCE COMMITTEE: Write terms on index cards, stack them, and divide students into two groups. In turns, one member from each group serves as the clue giver for 45 seconds, drawing a term from the top of the pile trying to get his or her group to guess it without saying any part of the term (as in the games "Catch Phrase"), then moving on to other terms as time permits.

    • TWENTY QUESTIONS: Give a term to each student and tell them not to look at it. Students then pair up, show each other their terms, and can ask each other twenty yes or no questions to try and correctly identify their terms. If they succeed in doing so, they earn a point and get another term from you.

    • JENGOV: Write key terms on Jenga blocks. Students engage in standard game play, but after they draw each blocks, must correctly identify the definition before stacking it atop the tower.

    • Five more key terms review options are available within the other Key Terms Review Lesson
  • Recalling Knowledge: Review Deck

    Create class sets of Key Terms Review Cards and answer sheets for students to use as review tools.

    Each card contains a definition and a QR code that students can scan with their phones to reveal the corresponding term. (NOTE: cards should be printed on white paper, as colored paper can interfere with the QR code readability.).


    • Review flashcards

    • Post cards around the classroom. Have students walk around the room looking at cards, recording their responses on the answer sheets, and then scanning the QR code to check their responses.

    • Post cards on your classroom door for students to test themselves with as they enter or exit.

    • Begin each class period with a few cards on each desk for students to quiz themselves with

    • Lightning rounds: At the start or end of a class period, have 5-10 students draw cards and read the definitions with the remaining students recording their answers on the answer sheet. Then have the students who read the definitions reveal what they believe to be the answers, scanning the QR code to check.

    • March Madness: Create a bracket of students in a class period. Students then face off against each other head-to-head, drawing cards and identifying terms in a "best of five" format, until one student is identified as the class champion.

    • Attach the key terms cards to the backs of standard playing cards. Students then engage in card games of their choosing, but must correctly identify vocabulary terms before putting their cards into play.

    • Five additional gameplay options are available within the Key Foundational Documents Review Lesson that can be adapted for use with the key terms review cards

    • Another five gameplay options are available within the Landmark Supreme Court Cases Review Lesson that can be adapted for use with the key terms review cards
  • Recalling Knowledge: Blooket

    This Blooket includes all of the above key terms. It can be played in class, over Zoom or independently by students.

Additional Resources


  • A. P. Government Key Terms


AP U.S. Government Key Terms


High School