AP Psychology Exam

Interested in the scientific study of behavior and mental processes? The AP® Psychology Exam is a college-level exam administered every year in May upon completion of an Advanced Placement Psychology course taken at your high school. If you score high enough, your AP score  could earn you college credit!

Check out our AP Psychology Guide for the essential info you need about the exam:

What's on the AP Psychology Exam?

The College Board requires your AP teacher to cover certain topics in the AP Psychology course. As you complete your Psych review, make sure you are familiar with the following topics:

  • Scientific Foundations of Psychology: Introducing Psychology; Research Methods in Psychology; Defining Psychological Science: The Experimental Method; Selecting a Research Method; Statistical Analysis in Psychology; Ethical Guidelines in Psychology

  • Biological Bases of Behavior: Interaction of Hereditary and Environment; The Endocrine System; Overview of the Nervous System and the Neuron; Neural Firing; Influence of Drugs on Neural Firing; The Brain; Tools for Examining Brain Structure and Function; The Adaptable Brain; Sleep and Dreaming

  • Sensation and Perception: Principles of Sensation; Principles of Perception; Visual Anatomy; Visual Perception; Auditory Sensation and Perception; Chemical Senses; Body Sense

  • Learning: Introduction to Learning; Classical Conditioning; Operant Conditioning; Social and Cognitive Factors in Learning

  • Cognitive Psychology: Introduction to Memory; Encoding; Storing; Retrieving; Forgetting and Memory Distortion; Biological Bases of Memory; Introduction to Thinking and Problem Solving; Biases and Errors in Thinking; Introduction to Intelligence; Psychometric Principles and Intelligence Testing; Components of Language and Language Acquisition

  • Developmental Psychology: The Lifespan and Physical Development in Childhood; Social Development in Childhood; Cognitive Development in Childhood; Adolescent Development; Adulthood and Aging; Moral Development; Gender and Sexual Orientation

  • Motivation, Emotion, and Personality: Theories of Motivation; Specific Topics of Motivation; Theories of Emotion; Stress and Coping; Introduction to Personality; Psychoanalytic Theories of Personality; Behaviorism and Social Cognitive Theories of Personality; Humanistic Theories of Personality; Trait Theories of Personality; Measuring Personality

  • Clinical Psychology: Introduction to Psychological Disorders; Psychological Perspectives and Etiology of Disorders; Neurodevelopmental and Schizophrenic Spectrum Disorders; Bipolar, Depressive, Anxiety, and Obsessive-Compulsive and Related Disorders; Trauma- and Stressor- Related, Dissociative, and Somatic Symptom and Related Disorders; Feeding and Eating, Substance and Addictive, and Personality Disorders; Introduction to Treatment of Psychological Disorders; Psychological Perspectives and Treatment of Disorders; Treatment of Disorders from the Biological Perspective; Evaluating Strengths, Weaknesses, and Empirical Support for Treatments of Disorders

  • Social Psychology: Attribution Theory and Person Perception; Attitude Formation and Attitude Change; Conformity, Compliance, and Obedience; Group Influences on Behavior and Mental Processes; Bias, Prejudice, and Discrimination; Altruism and Aggression; Interpersonal Attraction

Sections & Question Types

The AP Psych exam is 2 hours long and has two sections: a multiple-choice section and a a free-response section. 


Number of Questions

Exam Weighting

Section 1

70 minutes

100 multiple-choice questions


Section 2

50 minutes

2 free-response questions


Multiple-Choice Questions

The AP Psychology multiple-choice questions test the following skills:

  • Concept Understanding
  • Data Analysis
  • Scientific Investigation

Free-Response Questions

The AP Psych FRQs consists of two questions:

  • Question 1 is about Concept Application, assessing a student’s ability to explain and apply theories and perspectives in authentic contexts
  • Question 2 is about Research Design, assessing a student’s ability to analyze psychological research studies that include quantitative data.

For a comprehensive content review, check out our book, AP Psychology Premium Prep

What’s a good AP Psychology Score?

AP scores are reported from 1 to 5. Colleges are generally looking for a 4 or 5 on the AP Psychology exam, but some may grant credit for a 3. Here’s how students scored on the May 2020 test:



Percentage of Test Takers


Extremely qualified



Well qualified






Possibly qualified



No recommendation


Source: College Board

How can I prepare?

AP classes are great, but for many students they’re not enough! For a thorough review of AP Psychology content and strategy, pick the AP prep option that works best for your goals and learning style. 

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