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The Ultimate Guide to Acing the AP Psychology Exam

By Eric Eng

By Eric Eng

a puzzle shaped like a human head

The Ultimate Guide to Acing the AP Psychology Exam

The AP Psychology Exam is a favorite of the various AP Exams among students who have completed the course and those who elect to study on their own. While most students who take the exam choose to enroll in the AP Psychology Course, the format and material covered on the test are also conducive to self-studying.

The AP Psychology Exam places a heavy emphasis on highly specific theory and vocabulary, making it easier for students to prepare when compared to other AP Exams. If you take the AP Psychology Exam without the course, you should have access to course-quality materials to study independently.

No matter your previous experience with the subject matter, you’ll need an in-depth understanding of the major topics covered in the related AP course to succeed on the exam. The AdmissionSight team has compiled the following guide to answer any questions you might have about the AP Psychology Exam. You’ll learn why the exam is important, what you’ll be required to know, and how to prepare successfully.

a human and the brain

What are AP Programs?

Advanced Placement (AP) exams are standardized tests administered by the College Board in the United States. These exams are designed to assess a student’s mastery of college-level coursework. They are often taken by high school students looking to earn college credit or demonstrate their proficiency in a particular subject.

What is the AP Psychology Exam?

The AP Psychology Exam is a standardized test offered by the College Board that measures students’ understanding of the introductory college-level material covered in a typical semester-long psychology course. The exam consists of multiple-choice questions, free-response questions, and a scoring guide. It is typically taken by high school students who are seeking college credit or advanced placement in psychology courses.

Studying for the AP Psychology Exam requires a comprehensive understanding of various psychological concepts, theories, and research methods. Students must demonstrate their knowledge and critical thinking skills by analyzing psychological theories, interpreting research findings, and applying psychological principles to real-life scenarios.

What does the AP Psychology Exam contain?

Like all AP Exams, the AP Psychology Exam covers the main ideas in the related AP Course. Therefore, reviewing what’s covered in the course, especially if you’re a self-study, is a great way to understand better what’s covered on the AP Psychology Exam. The course and exam explore behaviors, theories, and major concepts within psychology and related research areas.

Successful test-takers must be well-versed in the history of the subject, current and past research methods, and the emotional and biological causes of behavior. Like all constantly changing fields, it’s important that students only prepare with the most up-to-date and relevant studying materials. Checking the date of the resource you’re using is a good way to ensure the content reflects the most current changes in the field.

The AP Psychology Exam assesses students’ mastery of concepts and skills. Throughout the AP Psychology Course, you’ll learn to master three critical skills necessary for passing the exam. Understanding what these skills are and their weight on the exam can make it easier to prioritize your studying. Below, we’ve broken down these three-course skills, elaborated on their significance, and identified how much of the exam they represent.

Skill Description Exam Weighting (Multiple-Choice Section)
1. Concept Understanding Define, explain, and apply concepts, behavior, theories, and perspectives. 75%–80%
2. Data Analysis Analyze and interpret quantitative data. 8%–12%
3. Scientific Investigation Analyze psychological research studies. 12%–16%

How is the AP Psychology Exam broken down?

While the aforementioned skills inform the types of questions asked on the test, nine units further elucidate what students can expect to find on the exam. These nine units focus on the discipline’s primary processes, theories, and principles. We’ve provided the breakdown below to give you a better idea of what these nine units are and what weight they take up on the AP Psychology Exam.

Unit

% of Exam Score (only the multiple-choice section)

Sensation and Perception 6%–8%
Developmental Psychology 7%-9%
Learning 7%-9%
Biological Bases of Behavior 8%-10%
Social Psychology 8%-10%
Scientific Foundations of Psychology 10%-14%
Motivation, Emotion, and Personality 11%–15%
Clinical Psychology 12%–16%
Cognitive Psychology 13%-17%

What is the format of the AP Psychology Exam?

You’ll be pleased to hear that the AP Psychology Exam clocks in at just shy of two hours, making it one of the shortest of the AP Exams. There are two separate sections: the first features multiple-choice questions, while the latter comprises free-response questions. Let’s take a closer look at what you can expect to find in both sections:

Section 1: Multiple Choice

The multiple-choice section of the AP Psychology Exam consists of 100 thought-provoking questions. These questions assess your knowledge of various psychological concepts and theories. As you tackle this section, you will be challenged to apply your understanding of psychology to real-life scenarios and analyze different perspectives.

Within this section, you will encounter questions that cover a wide range of topics. From the biological bases of behavior, where you will explore the intricate workings of the brain and nervous system, to sensation and perception, where you will delve into the fascinating world of how we perceive and interpret the world around us.

Furthermore, the multiple-choice questions will also test your understanding of learning and cognition. You will explore the processes of memory, thinking, and problem-solving and the various theories that explain how we acquire knowledge and skills.

Lastly, the multiple-choice section will also touch upon the captivating realm of social psychology. You will examine topics such as attitudes, conformity, group dynamics, and the influence of culture on behavior. This section will challenge you to think critically and apply psychological principles to understand human behavior in social contexts.

Tackling the Multiple-Choice section

The multiple-choice section of the AP Psychology exam is 70 minutes long and consists of 100 questions, which account for 67% of the total exam score. Here are some strategies to help you tackle this section:

  1. Know Your Terminology: AP Psychology multiple-choice questions tend to revolve around particular key terms, including major theories and concepts, historical experiments and studies, and noteworthy psychologists and thinkers. Thus, knowing your terminology is crucial to succeeding in this section.
  2. Eliminate Wrong Answer Choices: As you work through the multiple-choice section, make X marks or dashes by answer choices that do not make sense with the question. This helps you logically think about feasible answer solutions and makes reviewing your test at the end more efficient.
  3. Pay Attention to Wording: Sometimes, questions may contain double negatives or tricky phrasing that can trip you up if you’re not careful. Take the time to read each question carefully and ensure you understand what it asks before you choose an answer.
  4. Budget Your Time: With 70 minutes to answer 100 questions, you only have 42 seconds on average to answer each question. If you spend minutes puzzling over a tough question, you lose time that you might spend more effectively answering other questions. Regardless of difficulty, every question is worth the same points, so it’s important to budget your time wisely.
  5. Use Process of Elimination: If you are not sure of the answer to a question and, therefore, are trying to eliminate incorrect choices, a few other suggestions about how to make good guesses on multiple-choice tests may help you.
  6. Practice Active Reading: The multiple-choice section of the AP Psychology exam tests not just your knowledge of the subject matter but also your ability to interpret information and draw conclusions. Practice active reading, eliminate wrong answer choices, and use strategies such as creating a context or category to help you remember information.

Section 2: Free Response

The AP Psychology Exam’s free-response section allows you to showcase your analytical and experimental skills. This section consists of two questions, each requiring a unique approach.

The first question prompts you to analyze a given scenario. You will be asked to identify and explain psychological concepts, theories, or research findings relevant to the scenario. This question will test your ability to apply your knowledge to real-world situations and demonstrate your understanding of psychological principles.

The second question in the free-response section challenges you to design and conduct an experiment. You must outline the steps to investigate a specific psychological phenomenon. This question assesses your ability to think critically, formulate a research hypothesis, and design a study that adheres to scientific principles.

By including these free-response questions, the AP Psychology Exam allows you to showcase your ability to think like a psychologist and apply your knowledge to practical situations. It encourages you to think beyond memorization and demonstrate your understanding of psychology as a scientific discipline.

Tackling the Free-Response section

To tackle the free-response section of the AP Psychology exam, you can follow these tips:

  1. Understand the Question: Carefully analyze the question and identify the elements that must be addressed in the response.
  2. Use Psychological Terms: Use psychological terms when answering the questions.
  3. Know Your Vocabulary: Familiarize yourself with psychology vocabulary.
  4. Write in Complete Sentences: Write in complete sentences, not complete paragraphs.
  5. Connect Your Ideas: Connect your ideas and provide examples to support your arguments.
  6. Practice Previous Questions: Work specifically on free-response questions from previous AP Examinations to compare your responses with scored and evaluated ones.
  7. Follow a Five-Step Strategy: Consider following a five-step strategy to write an effective AP Psychology free-response question.

Remember, the free-response section consists of two questions, one concept application question and one research design question, each worth 7 points. By following these tips and practicing, you can improve your chances of scoring well in this section

Samples

Here are some sample questions of what you might encounter in the exam:

AP Psychology exam samples AP Psychology exam samples AP Psychology exam samples AP Psychology exam samples

AP Psychology Exam Scoring Breakdown

The AP Psychology Exam is a comprehensive assessment that evaluates students’ understanding of the key concepts and theories in the field of psychology. It is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest possible score. The scoring breakdown for the exam is as follows:

Multiple-Choice Questions: 67.7% of the total score

The multiple-choice section of the AP Psychology Exam is designed to assess students’ knowledge and understanding of a wide range of topics. It consists of questions requiring students to analyze and interpret psychological concepts, theories, and research findings. These questions cover various areas of psychology, including biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, learning and cognition, and social psychology, among others.

By answering multiple-choice questions, students demonstrate their ability to recall factual information, apply psychological principles to real-world scenarios, and analyze data presented in different formats, such as graphs and charts. This section accounts for 67.7% of the total score, reflecting its significance in assessing students’ overall understanding of the subject.

Free-Response Questions: 33.3% of the total score

The free-response section of the AP Psychology Exam allows students to showcase their critical thinking and analytical skills by responding to prompts that require written explanations, analyses, and evaluations. This section includes two types of questions: the first requires students to provide a detailed response to a specific scenario or case study. In contrast, the second prompts them to design and conduct their own psychological research study.

Through the free-response questions, students demonstrate their ability to apply psychological concepts and theories to real-world situations, construct coherent arguments supported by evidence, and effectively communicate their ideas. This section accounts for 33.3% of the total score, highlighting its importance in assessing students’ higher-order thinking skills and ability to synthesize and evaluate information.

What are the passing rates of the AP Psychology Exam?

Exam 1 2 3 4 5
AP Psychology 22% 13.5% 18.7% 25.3% 20.5%

The straightforward nature of the AP Psychology Exam’s subject matter bodes well for both self-studiers and AP Psych course students, as is illustrated by the exam’s high pass rate. 64.5% of all the students who participated in the AP Psychology Exam passed by receiving a score of 3 or more. Over one-fifth of students scored the highest at 5. 22% received the lowest possible score of 1.

It’s important to remember that the credit you receive from passing the AP Psychology Exam is wholly dependent upon the college policies you’re applying to. Although a 3 is widely considered a passing grade, you might have to receive a 4 or even a 5 to receive credit at some colleges. Even still, some universities don’t offer credit and choose to rely solely on AP exams for placement. Students should conduct research regarding their ideal colleges’ policies on this topic. You can visit this website for information about how specific colleges view AP Exams.

Why is the AP Psychology Exam important?

The AP Psychology Exam serves as an opportunity for students to showcase their knowledge and skills in psychology. The exam can earn you college credits, saving time and money. Additionally, performing well on the exam can strengthen your college applications and demonstrate your readiness for higher education in psychology.

Psychology is a fascinating field that delves into the human mind’s and behavior’s complexities. By taking the AP Psychology Exam, you demonstrate your understanding of key psychological concepts and theories, dedication to learning, and ability to think critically.

One of the benefits of taking the AP Psychology Exam is the opportunity to earn college credits. Many colleges and universities offer credit or advanced placement for students who score well on exams. This means that if you perform exceptionally, you may be able to skip introductory psychology courses in college, allowing you to dive deeper into more specialized areas of the subject.

Moreover, earning college credits through the AP Psychology Exam can save you time and money. By entering college with credits already under your belt, you may be able to graduate earlier, reducing the overall cost of your education. Additionally, the credits you earn can free up space in your schedule, allowing you to explore other subjects or take additional courses that align with your interests and career goals.

Performing well on the AP Psychology Exam can also enhance your college applications. Admissions officers value students who challenge themselves academically and are genuinely interested in their chosen field. By excelling in the AP Psychology Exam, you demonstrate your commitment to the subject and ability to handle college-level coursework.

Furthermore, the AP Psychology Exam can serve as a stepping stone towards a future career in psychology. By showcasing your knowledge and skills in this exam, you are proving your readiness for higher education and building a strong foundation for further studies in the field. Whether you aspire to become a clinical psychologist, a researcher, or a counselor, performing well on the AP Psychology Exam can open doors to exciting opportunities and set you on the path to success.

The AP Psychology Exam is important for several reasons. It allows you to demonstrate your knowledge and skills in psychology, potentially earn college credits, strengthen your college applications, and pave the way for a future career. So, if you are passionate about psychology and eager to showcase your abilities, taking the AP Psychology Exam is a valuable step towards achieving your academic and professional goals.

Male student using a laptop while sitting on a table.

Do colleges care about the AP Psychology exam?

Colleges generally value the completion of Advanced Placement courses and the corresponding exams, including AP Psychology. However, the weight of a specific AP exam, such as AP Psychology, can vary among colleges. Here are some considerations regarding how colleges view the AP Psychology exam:

1. Demonstration of Academic Rigor:

  • Completing AP courses, including AP Psychology, demonstrates to colleges that you have engaged in challenging coursework. This commitment to academic rigor is often viewed positively during college admissions.

2. Potential for College Credit:

  • Colleges may grant college credit or advanced placement to students who earn high scores on the AP Psychology exam. This can allow you to bypass introductory-level courses and delve into more advanced coursework in your chosen field.

3. Subject Relevance:

  • Some colleges may emphasize certain AP exams based on their relevance to a student’s intended major or field of study. If you are considering a psychology or social sciences major, the AP Psychology exam may carry additional weight.

4. Holistic Admissions:

  • Colleges often use a holistic admissions process, considering factors such as GPA, standardized test scores, extracurricular activities, and the rigor of your coursework. While the AP Psychology exam is valuable, it is considered within the context of your overall academic profile.

5. Interest Alignment:

  • Suppose your intended major or academic interests align with psychology or a related field. In that case, success in the AP Psychology course and exam may be particularly relevant and appealing to admissions officers.

6. Quality of School Curriculum:

  • Some colleges consider the availability and rigor of your high school’s curriculum when evaluating your application. Taking challenging courses like AP Psychology can reflect positively in this context.

7. Application Boost:

  • Earning a high score on the AP Psychology exam can boost your college application. It demonstrates content knowledge and skills such as critical thinking, analysis, and research methodology.

Important Notes:

  • Score Thresholds: Colleges may have different score thresholds for granting credit or advanced placement. Check with the specific colleges you are interested in to understand their policies.
  • Variability Among Colleges: The significance of the AP Psychology exam can vary among colleges. Some highly selective institutions may have more specific expectations, while others may emphasize more on AP coursework.
  • Consult College Policies: Review the admissions policies of the colleges you are interested in to understand how they evaluate AP exam results. Some colleges may publish their credit policies on their websites.

Is it a good idea to take the AP Psychology exam?

Whether taking the AP Psychology exam is a good idea depends on various factors, including your academic goals, interests, and college plans. Here are some considerations to help you decide if taking the AP Psychology exam is the right choice for you:

Advantages of Taking the AP Psychology Exam:

College Credit and Placement:

Successfully passing the AP Psychology exam with a high score may allow you to earn college credit. This can save you time and money by exempting you from introductory psychology courses in college.

Demonstration of Academic Rigor:

Completing an AP course and taking the corresponding exam demonstrates to colleges that you have engaged in challenging coursework. This can be advantageous in the college admissions process, showcasing your commitment to academic excellence.

Interest in Psychology:

If you are genuinely interested in psychology, taking the AP exam allows you to delve deeper into the subject and gain a more comprehensive understanding of psychological principles.

Development of Critical Thinking Skills:

AP courses, including AP Psychology, are designed to develop critical thinking, analytical, and writing skills. These skills are valuable for the exam and success in higher education and future careers.

Considerations:

Workload and Time Commitment:

AP courses are known for their rigorous curriculum, and the workload can be demanding. Consider your current schedule, commitments, and ability to manage the additional workload of an AP course.

Interest in Other Subjects:

Suppose you have limited available slots for AP courses and are interested in other subjects. In that case, you may want to weigh the benefits of taking AP Psychology against those of other AP courses.

College and Career Goals:

Consider how AP Psychology aligns with your college and career goals. If you do not plan to pursue psychology, you may want to prioritize AP courses that align more closely with your intended major or career path.

Availability of Resources:

Ensure you can access the necessary resources, including a qualified teacher, textbooks, and study materials, to succeed in the AP Psychology course.

Personal Readiness:

Assess your own academic preparedness and interest in the subject matter. If you feel confident in your ability to handle the material and are genuinely interested in psychology, it can be a rewarding experience.

How long is the AP Psychology exam?

The AP Psychology exam is 2 hours long and consists of two sections: a multiple-choice section and a free-response section. The multiple-choice section lasts 70 minutes and contains 100 questions, while the free-response section lasts 50 minutes and consists of two essay questions. The multiple-choice section accounts for 67% of the exam score, and the free-response section accounts for 33%. The exam is scored on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score.

How hard is the AP Psychology exam?

The difficulty of the AP Psychology Exam varies from student to student. While some may find it challenging, others may breeze through it. The key to success lies in effective preparation and a deep understanding of the material covered on the exam. With the right study strategies and dedication, you can confidently approach the exam and achieve a high score.

When assessing the difficulty of the AP Psychology Exam, it’s important to consider the unique nature of the subject matter. Psychology is a multifaceted discipline encompassing various topics, theories, and research methods. As a result, the exam covers diverse content, including biological bases of behavior, cognitive processes, developmental psychology, and social psychology, among others.

One of the challenges of the AP Psychology Exam is the need to memorize key concepts and theories and apply them to real-world scenarios. The exam often includes multiple-choice questions that require critical thinking and the ability to analyze and interpret psychological phenomena. Also, free-response questions ask students to demonstrate their knowledge by writing essays or designing experiments.

Preparing for the AP Psychology Exam involves more than just reviewing textbooks and lecture notes. Students are encouraged to engage in active learning strategies such as creating concept maps, participating in group discussions, and practicing with sample questions to excel truly. These activities help solidify understanding and enhance retention of the material.

Furthermore, it is important to note that the AP Psychology Exam is not only about factual knowledge but also about understanding the underlying principles and theories. This requires students to think critically and make connections between different concepts. By developing a comprehensive understanding of the subject, students can confidently tackle the exam and effectively answer questions that require higher-order thinking skills.

It is worth mentioning that the College Board, the organization responsible for administering the AP exams, provides a detailed course description for AP Psychology. This document outlines the content that may be covered on the exam, and the specific skills students are expected to demonstrate. Familiarizing yourself with this document can be immensely helpful in structuring your study plan and ensuring you cover all the necessary topics.

Ultimately, the difficulty of the AP Psychology Exam is subjective and dependent on individual factors such as prior knowledge, study habits, and test-taking skills. While it is important to acknowledge the challenges, it is equally important to approach the exam with confidence and a positive mindset. With adequate preparation and a thorough understanding of the material, you can overcome difficulties and succeed on the AP Psychology Exam.

What factors influence the difficulty of the AP Psychology exam?

The difficulty of the AP Psychology exam can be influenced by several factors, and individual experiences may vary. Here are key factors that contribute to the overall difficulty of the exam:

Depth of Content:

The exam covers a wide range of topics within psychology, and questions may require a deep understanding of theories, concepts, and research findings. The more comprehensive your knowledge of the subject, the better you’ll be able to handle various questions.

Complexity of Questions:

The multiple-choice questions and free-response prompts may vary in complexity. Some questions may require straightforward recall of information, while others may demand a higher level of critical thinking, analysis, and synthesis of concepts.

Application of Knowledge:

Success on the exam often depends on the ability to apply psychological principles to real-world scenarios. Questions may assess your capacity to analyze situations using psychological concepts and theories.

Interdisciplinary Connections:

The exam may include questions that require an understanding how psychological principles intersect with other disciplines, such as biology, sociology, or anthropology.

Research Design and Methodology:

The free-response section includes an experimental design question, evaluating your ability to design and analyze psychological experiments. Proficiency in research methods and experimental design contributes to success in this part of the exam.

Time Management:

The AP Psychology exam has a specific time limit for each section. Effective time management is crucial to completing all questions within the allotted time. Practicing with time constraints during preparation can help you develop a strategy for managing your time during the actual exam.

Preparation and Study Habits:

Individual students’ level of preparation and study habits can greatly influence their performance on the exam. Consistent and thorough review of the material, practice with past exams, and engagement in active learning can enhance preparedness.

Familiarity with Exam Format:

Students familiar with the exam format and who have practiced with sample questions may feel more comfortable and confident during the test. Knowing what to expect can reduce test-related stress.

Teacher Quality and Instruction:

The effectiveness of the instruction received during the AP Psychology course can impact a student’s readiness for the exam. Well-qualified and experienced teachers can contribute to a deeper understanding of the material.

Individual Learning Styles:

Different students have different learning styles. Some may find certain aspects of the exam more challenging based on their preferred modes of learning and processing information.

Understanding and addressing these factors during preparation can contribute to a more successful experience on the AP Psychology exam. Students must approach the exam with a solid foundation of knowledge, critical thinking skills, and effective study strategies.

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How long is the AP Psychology exam?

The exam duration may vary slightly depending on the year, but here is the typical breakdown:

  1. Multiple-Choice Section:
    • The multiple-choice section consists of a set of questions covering various topics in psychology. Students are given 70 minutes to complete this section, which usually includes around 100 questions.
  2. Free-Response Section:
    • The free-response section includes two essay questions designed to assess students’ ability to apply their understanding of psychological concepts and theories. Students are given 50 minutes to complete this section.

Therefore, the total duration of the AP Psychology Exam is typically around 2 hours and 20 minutes (70 minutes for the multiple-choice section + 50 minutes for the free-response section).

It’s important to note that specific details about the exam, including format and timing, may be subject to change. Students should refer to the most recent information on the College Board’s official website or consult their school’s AP coordinator for the latest details regarding the AP Psychology Exam.

How to register for the AP Psychology exam

To register for the AP Psychology exam, you generally need to follow a process that involves coordination between you, your school, and the College Board, the organization that administers the AP program. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to register for the AP Psychology exam:

1. Speak with Your School Counselor or AP Coordinator:

  • Start by discussing your interest in taking the AP Psychology exam with your school counselor or AP coordinator. They can provide information about the registration process, exam dates, and any specific procedures your school follows.

2. Enroll in the AP Psychology Course:

  • Most students take the corresponding AP course before registering for the exam. Enrollment in the course is typically done through your high school. If your school does not offer the AP Psychology course, you may have the option to self-study or explore online course alternatives.

3. Receive a Join Code:

  • Your teacher or AP coordinator will provide you with a unique join code that you’ll use to enroll in your class section on the College Board’s AP Classroom platform.

4. Create a College Board Account:

  • If you don’t already have one, create an account on the College Board website. This account will serve as your portal for all things related to the AP program.

5. Join Your Class Section on AP Classroom:

  • Use the join code to enroll in your class section on the AP Classroom platform. This is where you’ll access resources, practice exams, and other materials related to the AP Psychology course.

6. Indicate Your Exam Intentions:

  • In your AP Classroom account, you will indicate whether you plan to take the AP Psychology exam in May. This is typically done by a certain deadline set by the College Board.

7. Pay Exam Fees:

  • Your school may have specific procedures for payment. Some schools cover the cost of AP exams for all students, while others may require students to pay a portion or the full exam fee. Ensure you are aware of your school’s payment policies and deadlines.

8. Receive Your Exam Schedule:

  • Once registered, you will receive information about your AP Psychology exam’s specific date, time, and location. The exams are usually administered in May.

9. Prepare for the Exam:

  • Use the resources provided on the AP Classroom platform, including practice exams, review materials, and any guidance from your teacher, to prepare for the exam.

10. Take the Exam:

  • On the designated exam day, arrive at the testing location according to the instructions provided by your school. Bring the necessary materials, such as a valid ID, pencils, and pens.

Note:

  • The registration process may vary slightly depending on your school’s policies and procedures. Staying informed about deadlines, fees, and any specific requirements your school sets is crucial.

Remember to communicate with your school’s AP coordinator and follow the instructions provided by your school and the College Board to ensure a smooth registration process for the AP Psychology exam.

How to study for the AP Psychology exam

Test your skills: While you might be tempted to study for the AP Psychology Exam, it’s best to start by assessing your current skills. Knowing what the test covers is important, but that’s only half of the battle. You also have to know where you stand regarding familiarity with those topics. This makes it easier to determine which areas you need to study more than others – greatly improving the efficiency of your preparation.

Taking practice tests effectively assesses your knowledge of the exam’s material at the onset. The College Board site provides some helpful sample questions but not a complete test. For an even more comprehensive understanding of your skills, you can take one of the following four complete sample tests that you can find online.

There’s one from each of the following years – 1994, 1999, 2012, and 2016. Be sure to note how you perform on these sample questions and tests by comparing your responses to the correct answers. This will give you an accurate idea of what areas of the material you should focus on when preparing for the real AP Psychology Exam.

A girl studying in a room

Study the unit material: As we referenced before, this exam requires an in-depth understanding of the concepts and material covered in the clearly stated course units. Both AP course students and self-studiers need to review this discipline’s relevant theory to secure an excellent grade on the AP Psychology Exam. Investing in reliable studying materials will be necessary in this process.

The Myers’ Psychology For AP book is often cited as the most thorough and accurate guide for the course and exam. If the density of this textbook or its pricing is enough to turn you away, there are other sources you can use.

For example, Barron’s AP Psychology 8th Edition presents the same ideas and concepts more concisely. You can also purchase psychology flashcards to support your preparation further. For alternative resources, look no further than the content-rich internet. There are nearly limitless studying materials, from study guides and sample tests to flashcards and instructional videos on the internet ether. This 40-episode series on YouTube focuses specifically on the AP Psychology Exam.

Rehearse multiple-choice questions: When you’re comfortable with the theory portion of the exam, you can focus on rehearsing the types of questions you’ll encounter. Since multiple-choice questions make up a significant portion of the test’s overall score and time limit, starting here is not a bad idea.

You’ll be able to find sample MC questions online and in most AP Psychology Exam study guides. Practice exams are also a good source for finding sample MC questions. Some examples are on the College Board’s official AP Psychology Exam page. Study.com also has a free practice test with 50 MC questions. As we mentioned, you’ll want to keep track of the vocabulary and concepts you still struggle with to rehearse later.

a zoomed-in picture of an exam sheet

Practice free-response questions: While MC questions are fairly straightforward, the free-response questions on the AP Psychology Exam are a little more subjective. This makes double-checking your answers to this section slightly trickier.

However, rehearsing your answer to these free-response questions is still critical to preparing for the exam. These questions assess your ability to put the theory into practical use. You should become familiar with applying some common psychology principles and be comfortable with evaluating or designing a research study.

A grasp of the task verbs you might encounter on the free-response portion of the exam is critical to successfully answering these questions. After all, this is the exact skill that the free-response questions are designed to test. Here are some important definitions to keep in mind when making sense of these questions:

  • Explain, relate, or discuss: These words require students to connect psychological concepts and the given prompt and questions logically.
  • Show or describe: These terms request that students outline specific examples or the essential characteristics of a certain phenomenon, theory, or concept.
  • Identify: This word asks students to point out or name psychological concepts related to the question.

Before tackling these free-response questions, it’s a good strategy to outline your main thoughts. This can make it easier to organize your ideas to make your answer more coherent and succinct. Including specific examples related to your studying can drive home your points. You can lead into these references with phrases such as “for example,” “for instance,” or “one example of that is…”.

These genuine student answers with actual scoring explanations offer an excellent window into how the people scoring your test will think through their assessment.

Mimic the test settings: Perhaps the most effective way to prepare for the AP Psychology Exam is to take a full-length sample test while mimicking the actual test settings. This means no notes, cheat sheets, textbooks, or Google searches.

You’ll need to find a quiet place with few to no distractions. You should use a complete sample test with multiple-choice and free-response sections to most accurately assess your capabilities. Don’t forget to add a timer. It’s best to save this preparation step towards the end of your studying stretch to see how far you’ve come since you started studying. Recreating the test environment will give you a better idea of how you’ll perform on the real exam.

two people studying

Tips on the day of the exam

On the day of the AP Psychology Exam, it’s important to approach the test with confidence and a clear mind. Here are some tips to help you perform your best:

  • Get a good night’s sleep: Get enough rest the night before the exam to ensure optimal cognitive function.
  • Eat a balanced meal: Fuel your brain with a nutritious meal before the exam to maintain energy and focus.
  • Arrive early: Give yourself ample time to find your test center and settle before the exam begins.
  • Stay calm and focused: Take deep breaths and stay relaxed during the exam to maintain concentration and control any test anxiety.
  • Read the instructions carefully: Ensure you understand the directions for each exam section before starting.
  • Manage your time: Pace yourself and allocate time for each exam section to ensure you have ample time to complete all questions.
  • Eliminate answer options: Cross out any incorrect answer choices to narrow your options when answering multiple-choice questions.
  • Review your responses: If time permits, go back and review your answers to ensure accuracy and completeness.

When is the AP Psychology exam in 2024?

The AP Psychology exam 2024 will be administered on Thursday, May 9, 2024. The exam will be held at 12 p.m. local time. Students should confirm the start/report time with their school or AP coordinator.

For a complete list of the 2024 AP Exam dates, here’s a full list:

Week 1 Morning 8 a.m.

Local Time

Afternoon 12 p.m.

Local Time

Monday,

May 6, 2024

United States Government and Politics Art History

Chemistry

Tuesday,

May 7, 2024

Human Geography

Microeconomics

Seminar

Statistics

Wednesday,

May 8, 2024

English Literature and Composition Comparative Government and Politics

Computer Science A

Thursday,

May 9, 2024

Chinese Language and Culture

Environmental Science

Psychology
Friday,

May 10, 2024

European History

United States History

Macroeconomics

Spanish Literature and Culture

Art and Design: Friday, May 10, 2024 (8 p.m. ET), is the deadline for AP Art and Design students to submit their three portfolio components as final in the AP Digital Portfolio.
Week 2 Morning 8 a.m.

Local Time

Afternoon 12 p.m.

Local Time

Afternoon 2 p.m.

Local Time

Monday,

May 13, 2024

Calculus AB

Calculus BC

Italian Language and Culture

Precalculus

Tuesday,

May 14, 2024

English Language and Composition African American Studies

Physics C: Mechanics

Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
Wednesday,

May 15, 2024

French Language and Culture

World History: Modern

Computer Science Principles

Music Theory

Thursday,

May 16, 2024

Spanish Language and Culture Biology

Japanese Language and Culture

Friday,

May 17, 2024

German Language and Culture

Physics 1: Algebra-Based

Latin

Physics 2: Algebra-Based

When do AP scores come out?

AP scores are typically released in early to mid-July of the year the exams were taken. The exact release date may vary slightly from year to year, but students who took their AP exams in May can generally expect their scores to become available.

You can check for updates on the College Board’s official AP scores website if you are waiting for your AP scores. They will also email you when your scores are added to your score report. If you haven’t received your scores by mid-August, contacting AP Services for Students is recommended for assistance.

Post-exam tips

After completing the AP Psychology Exam, take some time to reflect on your performance and consider these post-exam tips:

  • Don’t dwell on it: Avoid stressing over the exam once it’s over. Focus on the next steps in your academic journey.
  • Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses: Identify areas where you performed well and areas where you need further improvement.
  • Seek feedback: Discuss your performance with your teacher or an experienced psychology professional to gain insights for future improvement.
  • Continue learning: Psychology is a dynamic field, so continue exploring and expanding your knowledge even after the exam.

By following this ultimate guide, you can confidently approach the AP Psychology Exam and increase your chances of achieving a high score. Effective preparation and a solid understanding of the material are key to success. Best of luck on your exam!

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