• The purpose of this page is to provide you with important information relating to the AP Psychology Exam, including information on dates, content, format, review materials, and exam tips and suggestions.




    Thursday, May 9th 2024 (12 pm LOCAL TIME)

    AP Psychology - Exam Content Basics:

    The AP Psychology Exam tests knowledge of topics typically included in a one-semester
    introductory college course in psychology.  The exam is broken down into two separate parts:

    Section I: Multiple Choice | 100 Questions | 1 hour and 10 minutes | 66.6% of Exam Score

    You’ll be asked to:

    • Define and explain content from a range of course topics
    • Apply skills of comparison and interpretation to course concepts, theories, and scientific methods

    Section II: Free-Response | 2 Questions | 50 minutes | 33.3% of Exam Score

    Typical questions may include (but are not limited to) the following:

    • Analyze a unique scenario using concepts from different theoretical frameworks or subdomains in the field
    • Design, analyze, or critique a research study


    The following task verbs are commonly used in the AP Psychology free-response questions:

    • Identify requires that you name or point out psychological concepts as they pertain to the question.
    • Show or describe requires you to detail the essential characteristics and/or examples of a particular concept, theory, or phenomenon.
    • Explaindiscuss, and relate require that you make logical and coherent connections among the prompt (or premise), question, and psychological concepts.
    The following table reflects the approximate percentage of the multiple-choice section of the exam devoted to each content area: 

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

    The free-response questions evaluate students' mastery of scientific research principles and their ability to make connections among constructs from different psychological domains. Students may be asked to analyze a general problem in psychology (e.g., depression, adaptation) using concepts from different theoretical frameworks or subdomains in the field, or they may be asked to design, analyze, or critique a research study.

    On the multiple-choice section, students earn 1 point for every correct answer and neither earn nor lose points for omitted questions or incorrect answers.  Each essay question is worth 25 points, for a total of 50 possible points.  Points can only be earned on the essays, as there are no penalties for incorrect or incomplete answers.  In all, the total exam is worth 150 points.  How many points do you need to earn in order to receive a "3" or higher?  Read below.

    Is it a 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5?
    After the May AP Exams, participating schools return all AP Exam materials to the AP Program.
    • The multiple-choice section is scored by computer. Each answer sheet is scanned and the total multiple-choice score is computed by adding the number of correct responses.  There is no longer any penalty for incorrect answers.
    • The free-response section is scored at the annual AP Reading held during the first two weeks in June. Specially appointed college professors and experienced AP teachers evaluate free-response answers.
    • The total scores from the free-response section and the multiple-choice section are combined to form a composite score.
    The process of grade setting—establishing the AP grade boundaries (determining how many composite score points equals what AP grade)—takes place immediately after the Reading.

    5  Extremely well qualified*
    4  Well qualified*
    3  Qualified*
    2  Possibly qualified*
    1  No recommendation**

    *Qualified to receive college credit or advanced placement
    **No recommendation to receive college credit or advanced placement

    During grade-setting sessions (there is one for each AP Exam) composite scores are translated into AP grades by setting boundaries for each grade based on a statistical technique called equating.

    Equating relates an AP Exam from one year to an AP Exam from another year so that performance on the two exams can be compared. This is accomplished by looking at how well AP students performed on a set of multiple-choice questions that is common to both exams. These particular multiple-choice questions cover the curriculum content and represent a broad range of difficulty; they can, therefore, provide information about the ability level of the current group of students and indicate the current exam's level of difficulty. This same set of questions may show up on next year's AP Exam and the one after that too. That's why you aren't supposed to talk about or share the multiple-choice questions from the AP Exam with anyone; it's all because of equating! 

    Still confused?  Don't fret.  The point totals vary from year to year.  But, based on years past, I can give you at least some idea of how many points you'll need to earn.  Students earning a score of "3" will generally earn a composite score of at least 85 points.  Students earning a score of "4" will generally earn a composite score of at least 95 points.  Students earning a score of "5" will generally earn a composed score of at least 105 points.  A reminder here, though, that scores will vary from year to year, and what scores as a "3" one year may equate to only a "2" the following year.  Your best bet, therefore, is to simply answer all of the questions correctly.