AP US Government : Structure of the Presidency

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for AP US Government

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Structure Of The Presidency

Executive branch positions such as Attorney General, Secretary of the Treasury, and Director of the Central Intelligence Agency are filled by

Possible Answers:

selection by the United States Senate.

appointment by the President.

selection by independent, non-partisan committees.

direct election by American voters.

selection by the House of Representatives.

Correct answer:

appointment by the President.

Explanation:

The Constitution allows the President, as head of the Executive Branch, to select and appoint a wide variety of positions in the government. These Executive offices include Cabinet members, such as the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Treasury, as well as other government positions like the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Example Question #2 : Structure Of The Presidency

The most significant and senior foreign policy advisor to the President is __________.

Possible Answers:

the Head of the CIA

The Speaker of the House

The Secretary of Defense

The Vice-President

The Secretary of State

Correct answer:

The Secretary of State

Explanation:

If this question were simply worded as "who is the most significant foreign policy advisor to the President," there might be a degree of subjectivity where you could argue that it depends on the President and the circumstances of his Presidency; however, the word "senior" as well tells you that the answer is the Secretary of State. It is the job of the Secretary of State to serve as the President’s primary foreign policy advisor. Whether the President takes this advice, or the advice of other members of the cabinet, is up to the individual President.

Example Question #3 : Structure Of The Presidency

Who is next in line in the Presidential succession after the Vice-President?

Possible Answers:

The Attorney General

The Speaker of the House

The Secretary of State

The Secretary of Defense

The President pro tempore of the Senate

Correct answer:

The Speaker of the House

Explanation:

The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 established that in the event that neither the President nor Vice-President are able to carry out the duties of the President, then the office should fall to the Speaker of the House, followed by the President pro tempore of the Senate, and then the Secretary of State. At various times in American history, the line of Presidential succession has been changed to reflect the realities and political interests of leading politicians at the time; however, there has yet to be an instance where the office has needed to pass beyond the Vice-President.

Example Question #4 : Structure Of The Presidency

For how many years—at a maximum—may a person be President?

Possible Answers:

None of the answers are correct

Correct answer:

None of the answers are correct

Explanation:

This is a tricky question, even though you can easily eliminate the majority of the answers. The answer is “None of the answers are correct.”

Remember, the President is elected to a four-year term. Thus, “2” must be incorrect. “4” and “6” are similarly incorrect for obvious reasons—you should at least know that the President can be elected twice (2x4=8).

Now for the answer that you likely picked: 8. Read the question again (“for how many years—at a MAXIMUM—may a person be President?”). Note two incredibly important things: (1) maximum is emphasized (for good reason); (2) the question does NOT ask “for how many years . . . may a person be elected [to the office of] President.” This question requires knowledge of both the office of the president, the 22nd Amendment, and the interaction of the two. The 22nd Amendment technically limits the office of the President to <10 years. Read the Amendment.

“Section 1. No person shall be elected to the office of the President more than twice, and no person who has held the office of President, or acted as President, for more than two years of a term to which some other person was elected President shall be elected to the office of the President more than once.” (Emphasis added).

Thus, technically speaking, if a President (prior to being ELECTED President) had to serve not more than two years of a term of the previous president, he (or she) could be elected twice to the office of the President: (not more than 2 years) + (term 1 (4 years)) + (term 2 (4 years)) = Not more than 10 years. Let’s use an example.

EXP: Say that Lindsay Slohands and Salma Kayak decided to run as President and Vice President, respectively. Two years and one day into Lindsay’s first term, she has too much of her favorite drink, Koke-a-Kola, and dies. As VP, Kayak has to step up to the office of the President, which she does, for the remainder of Slohands’ term (<2 years). Kayak then runs twice for the presidency, and serves out her ELECTED terms (for a total of 8 years) with no incidents. Kayak’s total term in office? <10 years. Kayak’s total ELECTED [to the office of the President] term? 8 years.

Example Question #5 : Structure Of The Presidency

How many wars has the President officially declared since World War I? 

Possible Answers:

Correct answer:

Explanation:

This is a trick question, and a sneaky one at that. The President does not declare war: Congress does. That bears repeating: only Congress can declare war. Thus, the answer is zero, although, technically speaking, we have been in one war since WWI—and that would be WWII. At this point you’re probably asking “but what about Vietnam? Korea? The Gulf War??!” Those are all valid objections, but they are not valid wars. Congress MUST declare war in order for the US to go to war. Otherwise, they are characterized as “armed conflicts” or something similar. They may be referred to as wars colloquially, but they are not formally declared.

Example Question #6 : Structure Of The Presidency

Who is after the Vice President in the Presidential Line of Succession?

Possible Answers:

The Attorney General

The Senate Pro-Tempore

The Senate Majority Leader

The Speaker of the House 

Correct answer:

The Speaker of the House 

Explanation:

The Speaker of the House is next in line if something should happen the president and vice president. The Presidential Succession Act of 1947 placed the Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro-Tempore back in the line after they were removed from it many years earlier. President Truman pushed heavily for this after President Roosevelt died in office and wanted to ensure that the president could not appoint all of those in the line of succession, as the only other people in it are cabinet members that were chosen by the president. Truman wanted the Speaker to be first because he believed that the House would be closer to the presidency than the Senate because its members are elected every two years and therefore would be in line with the wants of the people. 

Example Question #531 : Ap Us Government

After the President and the Vice President, who is the third in line for the office of the presidency?

Possible Answers:

First Lady

President pro tempore of the Senate

Speaker of the House

Majority Whip

Secretary of State

Correct answer:

Speaker of the House

Explanation:

The line of power to the President is the following: President, Vice President, Speaker of the House, President pro tempore of the Senate, then Secretary of State. Secretary of the State and President pro tempore of the Senate do appear on the list, but neither of them are number three on the list. The Speaker of the House is the third in line for the presidency, after the President and the Vice President.

Example Question #532 : Ap Us Government

Which of these became an official presidential qualification in 1951?

Possible Answers:

A 35 year age minimum

A Christian

A two term maximum

Resident of the United States for two years

Natural born citizen

Correct answer:

A two term maximum

Explanation:

The 22nd Amendment was adopted after the presidency of Franklin Roosevelt to limit the number of terms a president may serve. The other qualifications, such as 35 years old and natural born citizen were stipulated by the constitution. Religious qualification is strictly forbidden by the constitution.

Example Question #533 : Ap Us Government

Which of the following is/are (a) requirement(s) to become president?

Possible Answers:

Must be  years old

Must have been a resident of the US for  years

All of the answers are correct

Must be a natural born citizen

Correct answer:

All of the answers are correct

Explanation:

This should have been a relatively simple question. The Presidency is the most constitutionally limited office in the US. In other words, the constitution imposes greater eligibility requirements on the office of the President than on any other office in the country. In more concrete terms, the President must have been born a US citizen (there is some debate over “natural born”—but that’s mostly beyond the scope of this course) which means that a nationalized immigrant cannot EVER be president. This stands in stark contrast to the House and Senate which simply impose various temporal restrictions on nationalization (e.g. must have been a citizen for 7 years). Beyond that, the President must be 35—the highest specified age in the Constitution, and he must have been a resident of the US for 14 years (i.e. he cannot have been born a US citizen, then gallivanted off to France for his entire life, return, and seek the office).

Example Question #534 : Ap Us Government

Oftentimes this person is a figurehead within a government (that is, has very little actual power). At all times, however, this person “represents” her (or his) country to others by being the “face” of the country. What is this person?

Possible Answers:

President

Head of Government

Queen of England

Head of State

Correct answer:

Head of State

Explanation:

This is a difficult question, for multiple reasons. First and foremost, the difference between the Head of State and the Head of Government is always a little tricky. Second, the answers include two actual heads of state (the president and the Queen of England), but those answers are not the best answers as they are examples of a Head of State rather than the Head of State himself. Regardless, a Head of State is a quasi-ceremonial position which is oftentimes held by figureheads (such as the Queen of England) who, while they lack actual power, possess the ability—perhaps even duty—to be the first and foremost representative of their country to the world. 

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