The AP Psychology exam is divided into two sections. Section I gives you 70 minutes to answer 100 multiple-choice questions covering a variety of topics from introductory psychology. Each question contains five possible answer choices, with only one correct response. The topics covered, along with the frequency of questions on each topic, are as follows:
|History and Approaches (2–4%)|
|Research Methods (8–10%)|
|Biological Bases of Behavior (8–10%)|
|Sensation and Perception (6–8%)|
|States of Consciousness (2–4%)|
|Motivation and Emotion (6–8%)|
|Developmental Psychology (7–9%)|
|Testing and Individual Differences (5–7%)|
|Abnormal Behavior (7–9%)|
|Treatment of Abnormal Behavior (5–7%)|
|Social Psychology (8–10%)|
Section II gives you 50 minutes to answer two free-response questions. These questions can involve any of the content tested in the multiple-choice section, but will require you to make connections across a variety of theories and ideas that relate to each question’s theme. To receive full credit on one of these questions, you’ll need to write a brief essay that discusses a number of specified concepts or completes a number of particular tasks, often listed as bullet points in the prompt.
Section I is worth 100 points (one point per question), two-thirds of the total points on the exam. The questions in Section II vary in raw points, depending on the number of tasks and subtasks specified in each prompt. These raw points are then multiplied in order to yield a weighted score out of 25 points for each of the two questions. Altogether, the 50 points available in Section II constitute one-third of the exam total.
Multiple-choice scores are calculated by machine, but free-response questions are graded by actual human beings. Thus, you should make sure to write legibly. While it’s essential to address every task specified in the prompt, it’s not enough to just list ideas. You’ll need to write sentences and paragraphs that form a coherent essay.
After your total score out of 150 points is calculated, your results are converted to a scaled score from 1 to 5. The range of points for each scaled score varies depending on the difficulty of the exam in a particular year, but the significance of each value is constant from year to year. According to the College Board, AP scores should be interpreted as follows:
5 = Extremely well qualified
4 = Well qualified
3 = Qualified
2 = Possibly qualified
1 = No recommendation
Colleges will generally not award credit for any score below a 3, with more selective schools requiring a 4 or 5. Note that some schools will not award college credit regardless of score. Be sure to research schools that you plan to apply to, so you can determine the score you need to aim for on the AP Psychology exam.
Registration and Fees
To register for the exam, contact your school guidance counselor or AP Coordinator. If your school does not administer the AP exam, contact the College Board for a listing of schools that do.
There is a fee for taking AP exams, the current value of which can be found at the official exam website listed below. For students with acute financial need, the College Board offers a fee reduction equal to about one-third of the cost of the exam. In addition, most states offer exam subsidies to cover all or part of the remaining cost for eligible students. To learn about other sources of financial aid, contact your AP Coordinator.