4 Tips to Crush your AP Psychology Exam

Ashley Chen

9/4/20233 min read

First, an introduction to AP Psychology and what to expect.

AP Psychology is a relatively beginner-level AP course that freshmen and sophomores take to knock an AP course out of the way. For students passionate about psychology, or even neurology, this course is a must. Unfortunately, many students underestimate the AP Psychology exam, thinking that it’s easy, which is why only 17.0% of students got a 5, and 23.0% got a 4.

AP Psychology has its pros and cons, but it is not by any means “easy”. There are 14 chapters of content to memorize, each with many names, vocabulary, and concepts to study. The test itself is 2 hours long, with the multiple choice questions taking up 1 hour and 10 minutes, for 100 questions. The free-response portion is 2 questions, taking up 50 minutes of the test. Fortunately, unlike many other AP courses, none of this information is understanding-based, but mostly memorization. This means that there are no prerequisites to this AP course, and the class and content itself are also interesting to most.

As a student who got a 5 in 2023, here are some tips to crush your AP Psychology Exam.

1. Study your biological bases and developmental psychology chapters!

There is no guarantee that multiple choice questions will be on the test every year, as the College Board doesn’t reveal the multiple choice questions. But, according to student surveys, and the content in the review books, I gathered that the biological bases section, with the parts of the brain (extremely important), and the developmental psychology sections (including the Jean Piaget Stages, and moral development) are both topics that come up on the multiple-choice portion of the test.

The best way to study for the biological bases section is to draw diagrams of the brain, neurons and color them in if necessary. For developmental psychology, I would take extensive notes, and make quizlets if that helps you study.

2. Most definitely do not leave studying to the last second

This goes for all AP courses, but AP psychology most of all. If you don’t study regularly, you WILL forget all the information. There is too much information to cram, and all of it is memorization-based. Sure, some of it is common sense, but mostly, AP psychology is memorization-based, filled with key terms and names that need to be reviewed.

3. During the test, use elimination on the MCQs

If you see terms that you don’t recognize on the MCQs (Multiple Choice Questions), do not panic. Simply cross out the terms that don’t seem plausible, and reason it out. If you get a question about Freud’s psychoanalytical sexuality theories, an answer choice about neurotransmitters could never be the answer, so cross it out. If you’re left with two plausible answers, skip the question, and you might see one of the answer choices in a later question, which could help you with the question you’re stuck on.

4. For FRQ (Free Response Questions), always write clearly, and more is better than less

Free-response questions have been highly debated on every AP test, with every teacher having a different opinion on it. My experience is to write very clearly, expressing your every opinion, and restating the question. Use as many key terms as you can remember that apply to the scenario. Writing more could get you more points than writing less. Of course, don’t blabber or write about unnecessary topics, but there have been students who have gotten the point just by writing more, even if they’re not sure.

The people scoring your test want to give you the point. If they have enough content, they will be lenient on you, especially for a test like AP psychology.

Last, but not least, be proud of whatever score you end up getting. College courses aren’t easy, and AP psychology is a lot of students’ first AP classes.