What to Expect From the AP Psychology Exam

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The AP Psychology test can be an opportunity to earn college credit while still in high school. The exam can be tough, but knowing what to expect and being prepared can help you tackle the test. Discover what the AP Psychology test is, what the test covers, and what you need to do to prepare for the exam.

What Is the AP Psychology Exam?

Advanced Placement Psychology, more commonly referred to as AP Psychology, is a college-level introductory psychology course offered at many high schools.

The course is one offered as part of the College Board's Advanced Placement Program, allowing students to earn college credit. The course prepares students to take the AP Psychology test, a comprehensive exam that covers material found in a typical college introductory psychology class.

Basics of the AP Psychology Exam

Before you take the test, you should first become familiar with the basic structure of the exam as well as the content covered by the test.

  • The AP Psychology exam lasts for two hours.
  • The test consists of a multiple-choice section and a free response section. There are 100 multiple-choice questions and two free response questions. Students have 70 minutes to complete the multiple-choice section and 50 minutes to complete the free response section.
  • The multiple-choice portion of the exam accounts for two-thirds of the score, while the free response section makes up the remaining one-third of the score.
  • According to the College Board, a total of 151,006 students took the AP Psychology test in 2009. Of these students, 68.7% earned a passing grade on the test. The mean score for the exam was 3.22, with 103,685 students scoring a 3 or higher.

As you can see from looking at the exam statistics, the AP Psychology test is by no means easy. The test is challenging and covers a considerable amount of information about psychology. If you plan to take the test, be sure to start planning well in advance so that you can review the subject thoroughly.

Content Covered in the AP Psychology Exam

The exam covers content and subject-matter that are typically taught in a college-level introductory psychology course.

  • Biological Bases of Behavior: 8-10 percent
  • Cognition: 8 to 10 percent
  • Learning: 7 to 9 percent
  • Motivation and Emotion: 7 to 9 percent
  • Developmental Psychology: 7 to 9 percent
  • Abnormal Psychology: 7 to 9 percent
  • Sensation and Perception: 7 to 9 percent
  • Social Psychology: 7 to 9 percent
  • Methods and Approaches: 6 to 8 percent
  • Personality: 6 to 8 percent
  • Testing and Individual Differences: 5 to 7 percent
  • Treatment of Psychological Disorders: 5 to 7 percent
  • History of Psychology: 2 to 4 percent
  • States of Consciousness: 2 to 4 percent

How to Register for the AP Psychology Exam

If AP psychology classes are offered at your school, talk to your counselor about enrolling in AP Psychology. If you are home-schooled or your school does not offer AP courses, you can still enroll in independent study or possibly take an online AP course if it is offered in your state.

If your school has an AP Coordinator, inform him or her that you would like to take the test. The coordinator will then register you for the test, collect the exam fees and let you know when and where the test will take place.

Home-schooled student will need to contact AP Services before March 1 to be put in touch with a coordinator. The coordinator will then help you locate a school willing to administer the exam.

You can learn more about the registration process by visiting the registration page on the College Board website to learn more.

How to Prepare for the AP Psychology Exam

Perhaps the best way to prepare for the AP Psychology test is to enroll in an AP Psychology course. The class will take you through the material that will be covered in the exam, so if you do well in class you should be adequately prepared to take the test. However, there are other preparation materials available to students not enrolled in the course or for those who feel they need extra help.

You can also find a variety of AP Psychology books and study guides that can help you prepare for the exam. These materials can be helpful for supplementing your classroom lectures and readings.

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Article Sources

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  • The College Board. AP Psychology Student Grade Distributions - Global AP Examinations. 2009.