The article was last updated by Emily (Editor) on February 23, 2024.

Are you considering taking the AP Psychology Exam? It’s important to understand what the exam entails, when it’s scheduled, and how it’s structured.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about the AP Psychology Exam, including the topics covered, the recommended study schedule, and helpful tips for preparing for the exam. Whether you’re a seasoned AP student or new to the process, this guide will provide valuable insight to help you succeed.

Key Takeaways:

  • The AP Psychology Exam is a standardized test that assesses students’ understanding of various psychological topics.
  • The AP Psychology Exam is typically held in May each year.
  • The exam is divided into two sections: multiple choice questions and free-response questions, covering topics such as history, research methods, and abnormal psychology.

What is the AP Psychology Exam?

The AP Psychology Exam is an assessment administered by the College Board to evaluate students’ understanding of psychological principles and concepts covered in AP Psychology classes.

The AP Psychology Exam is a culmination of the rigorous coursework and in-depth study that students undertake throughout the course. It assesses students’ ability to analyze psychological theories, apply research methods, and demonstrate an understanding of various perspectives.

This exam plays a crucial role in determining students’ eligibility for college credit and advanced placement in psychology-related courses. It also provides colleges and universities with a standardized measure of students’ proficiency in psychology, aiding in the admissions process.

When is the AP Psychology Exam?

The AP Psychology Exam for the year 2018 is scheduled to take place on [insert specific date] as per the official 2018 AP Exam Calendar, with the test duration and specific timings provided by the College Board.

It is crucial for students to familiarize themselves with the exact date and time of the exam to ensure they arrive prepared and on schedule.

The exam will be administered at various allocated test centers across the country, and students are advised to carefully review their admission tickets for the specific test timings.

The AP Psychology Exam typically spans approximately two hours and contains a multiple-choice section in addition to a free-response section.

It’s essential for test takers to adhere to the specified time limits to effectively manage their responses and maximize their scores.

Being well-versed with the logistical details of the exam will undoubtedly contribute to a smoother and less stressful testing experience.

How is the AP Psychology Exam Structured?

The AP Psychology Exam follows a structured format, comprising multiple-choice questions and free-response questions designed to assess students’ comprehension of psychological concepts and their ability to apply analytical skills.

The multiple-choice section of the exam consists of a set of questions that cover a wide range of topics within the field of psychology, including research methods, biological bases of behavior, and social and abnormal psychology.

These questions require students to demonstrate their knowledge of key concepts and their ability to analyze psychological scenarios.

On the other hand, the free-response section includes prompts that assess students’ critical thinking and communication skills.

It requires students to construct well-organized and coherent responses, integrating psychological theories and concepts to address specific scenarios or issues presented in the prompts.

Multiple Choice Questions

The multiple-choice section of the AP Psychology Exam presents students with a series of questions covering various psychological topics, requiring them to select the most appropriate responses based on their knowledge and critical thinking skills.

When studying psychology, students can expect to encounter questions that cover various areas, such as the biological basis of behavior, cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, and social psychology.

These questions may also touch upon research methods, including experimental, correlational, and survey research. Furthermore, students can expect to be tested on their knowledge of psychological disorder treatment and ethical considerations in psychological research and practice.

Free-Response Questions

The free-response section of the AP Psychology Exam challenges students to demonstrate their ability to analyze and apply psychological principles through written responses to specific prompts, showcasing their depth of understanding and critical thinking abilities.

By presenting students with real-world scenarios and questions that require them to interpret and apply their knowledge of psychology, this section assesses their capacity to think critically, draw connections, and express their insights coherently.

It aims to evaluate their proficiency in integrating concepts, theories, and empirical evidence to construct well-organized and persuasive arguments, mirroring the complex reasoning and analytical skills essential in the field of psychology.

The tasks within the free-response section demand students to articulate their thoughts logically, utilize relevant terminology accurately, and support their viewpoints with evidence, nurturing their capacity to communicate effectively and persuasively.

What Topics are Covered on the AP Psychology Exam?

The AP Psychology Exam encompasses a wide range of topics, including the history and approaches to psychology, research methods, biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, learning, cognition, motivation and emotion, developmental psychology, personality, testing and individual differences, abnormal psychology, and treatment of psychological disorders.

Each of these areas of study is essential for understanding the complexities of the human mind and behavior. The history and approaches to psychology delve into the evolution of psychological thought and the various theoretical perspectives that have shaped the field.

Research methods equip students with the tools to critically evaluate psychological studies and experiments, fostering a deep understanding of scientific inquiry within the discipline.

The biological bases of behavior elucidate the neurobiological underpinnings of human actions and thought processes, while sensation and perception explore the intricate mechanisms that govern our sensory experiences.

Meanwhile, the study of learning and cognition provides insights into how individuals acquire knowledge and process information, shedding light on memory, language, problem-solving, and decision-making.

Motivation and emotion delve into the psychological forces that drive behavior and affective experiences, offering valuable insights into human desires, drives, and the mechanisms behind emotional responses.

Developmental psychology explores the various stages of human growth and maturation, encompassing physical, cognitive, and socioemotional aspects of development.

The subject of personality delves into the enduring traits and characteristics that shape individual differences, providing a comprehensive framework for understanding human diversity.

Alongside this, testing and individual differences focus on the assessment of psychological attributes and the various methods utilized to measure cognitive abilities, personality traits, and aptitudes.

Abnormal psychology delves into psychological disorders and atypical behavior, offering an in-depth exploration of the causes, manifestations, and treatments of mental health conditions.

The treatment of psychological disorders examines the various therapeutic approaches and interventions utilized to alleviate psychological distress and promote mental well-being.

Together, these areas of study provide a comprehensive understanding of the multifaceted nature of psychology, preparing students to analyze and interpret the intricacies of human behavior and mental processes.

History and Approaches

The history and approaches section of the AP Psychology Exam delves into the evolution of psychological theories and methodologies, exploring the key contributors and paradigms that have shaped the discipline over time.

One of the earliest influences on psychological thought can be traced back to ancient civilizations, such as the ancient Greeks and their philosophical musings on the nature of the mind and human behavior.

Moving forward in history, the Renaissance period saw a surge of interest in understanding human cognition and behavior, with scholars like Rene Descartes proposing influential ideas.

The 19th century witnessed the emergence of experimental psychology with figures like Wilhelm Wundt, who established the first psychology laboratory and laid the groundwork for the structuralist approach.

Similarly, Sigmund Freud made significant contributions to the field with his psychoanalytic theory, which delved into the unconscious mind and its influence on behavior.

Concurrently, behaviorism, championed by John B. Watson and B.F. Skinner, introduced the idea of observable behavior as the primary focus of psychological study.

Research Methods

The research methods segment of the AP Psychology Exam focuses on the various approaches to scientific inquiry within psychology, covering experimental design, data collection, statistical analysis, and ethical considerations in research.

Experimental design involves the careful planning and execution of studies to ensure valid and reliable results. Researchers often manipulate independent variables and measure their effects on dependent variables.

This can be achieved through various designs such as between-subjects, within-subjects, or mixed designs.

Data collection methods range from observational studies to surveys, interviews, and psychological tests, each with its own strengths and limitations. Researchers need to consider the accuracy, reliability, and validity of the data collected.

Statistical analysis plays a crucial role in interpreting research findings. Techniques such as t-tests, ANOVA, regression analysis, and correlation are commonly used to analyze the data and draw meaningful conclusions.

Ethical considerations are paramount in psychological research. Researchers must adhere to guidelines regarding informed consent, confidentiality, and avoiding harm to participants, ensuring the ethical treatment of individuals involved in the study.

Biological Bases of Behavior

The biological bases of behavior section in the AP Psychology Exam explores the interplay between neuroscience and behavior, examining the physiological processes, brain structures, and neural mechanisms underlying psychological phenomena.

Understanding how biological factors influence behavioral outcomes is crucial for comprehending various aspects of human cognition, emotion, and behavior.

The intricate network of neurons, synapses, and neurotransmitters orchestrates the neural mechanisms that produce diverse psychological responses. For instance, the amygdala, a brain structure vital for processing emotions, plays a pivotal role in fear responses and emotional memories.

This demonstrates the direct link between neural structures and emotional behavioral outcomes, shedding light on the biological underpinnings of behavior.

Sensation and Perception

The sensation and perception segment of the AP Psychology Exam delves into the cognitive processes and sensory systems involved in interpreting and experiencing the external environment, encompassing concepts related to vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell.

Understanding how individuals make sense of the world around them involves fundamental processes. These include vision, hearing, touch, taste, and smell. Each of these senses plays a crucial role in how we perceive and interact with our environment.

  • Vision involves the reception of light by the eyes, which is then processed by the brain.
  • Hearing relies on detecting sound waves and translating them into electrical signals.
  • Touch encompasses a range of sensations and is essential for interacting with the environment.
  • Taste and smell play a significant role in evoking memories and shaping our perception of the world.

These sensory mechanisms are vital for understanding and navigating the world around us.

States of Consciousness

The states of consciousness section in the AP Psychology Exam examines the various states of awareness, encompassing topics such as sleep, dreaming, hypnosis, and altered states of consciousness, shedding light on the complexities of human cognition and perception.

These states play a crucial role in understanding the depths of human mind and behavior.

For instance, sleep is not merely a dormant state, but a period where vital processes for memory consolidation and restoration occur. Dreaming, on the other hand, offers a window into the subconscious mind, often revealing underlying emotional and psychological conflicts.

Hypnosis provides valuable insights into suggestibility and the potential for cognitive restructuring, while altered states of consciousness, induced through meditation or substance use, offer intriguing perspectives on the malleability of perception and self-awareness.


The learning segment of the AP Psychology Exam delves into the principles of conditioning, memory processes, and behaviorist theories, exploring the mechanisms and implications of learning on human behavior and cognition.

Conditioning is a fundamental concept in psychology, encompassing both classical and operant conditioning. Classical conditioning, as pioneered by Ivan Pavlov, involves learning associations between stimuli and responses. This forms the basis of how we learn and adapt to our environment.

On the other hand, operant conditioning, proposed by B.F. Skinner, concentrates on how behavior is shaped by its consequences through reinforcement and punishment.

Memory processes, including encoding, storage, and retrieval, are intricately linked to learning. The role of memory in learning is essential, as it enables individuals to retain information and apply it in various contexts.

Without memory processes, long-term learning and behavior change would be significantly impaired.

Behaviorist theories emphasize observable behaviors and the environmental influences that shape them. They propose that human behavior is a product of reinforcement, punishment, and modeling, highlighting the impact of external factors on learning and behavior.


The cognition section of the AP Psychology Exam focuses on the study of mental processes such as information processing, problem-solving, and language acquisition, shedding light on the complexities of human thought and intelligence.

Information processing encompasses the ways in which individuals receive, store, and retrieve information. This includes sensory perception, attention, memory, and decision-making.

Problem-solving involves the application of cognitive processes to overcome obstacles and reach a desired outcome, with an emphasis on reasoning, creativity, and decision-making mechanisms.

Language acquisition, another key aspect of cognition, delves into the processes involved in learning and utilizing language, from syntax and grammar to semantics and pragmatics.

Motivation and Emotion

The motivation and emotion segment of the AP Psychology Exam delves into the affective processes and drive theories that underpin human motivation and emotional experiences, exploring the interplay between psychological factors and behavioral outcomes.

Understanding the psychological factors influencing motivation and emotion is crucial for comprehending human behavior. Affective processes, such as emotions and moods, play a significant role in directing behavior and decision-making.

Furthermore, drive theories propose that internal drives and needs motivate individuals to act in certain ways to reduce tension and achieve psychological stability. This intertwining of psychological and physiological elements shapes an individual’s motivation and emotional experiences, forming the foundation for behavioral responses and adaptive functioning.

Developmental Psychology

The developmental psychology section of the AP Psychology Exam examines the factors influencing lifespan development, including the interplay between genetic predispositions and environmental influences, shedding light on the complexities of psychological maturation and growth.

Throughout the lifespan, individuals are influenced by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that shape their psychological development. The nature versus nurture debate grapples with the extent to which genetic predispositions or environmental experiences exert a greater impact on an individual’s development.

Both nature and nurture play essential roles in shaping personality traits, cognitive abilities, and emotional regulation. Cultivating a deeper understanding of these factors is crucial for comprehending the intricacies of psychological development across different stages of life.

The developmental psychology section of the AP Psychology Exam examines the factors influencing lifespan development, including the interplay between genetic predispositions and environmental influences, shedding light on the complexities of psychological maturation and growth.

Throughout the lifespan, individuals are influenced by a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors that shape their psychological development. The nature versus nurture debate grapples with the extent to which genetic predispositions or environmental experiences exert a greater impact on an individual’s development.

Both nature and nurture play essential roles in shaping personality traits, cognitive abilities, and emotional regulation. Cultivating a deeper understanding of these factors is crucial for comprehending the intricacies of psychological development across different stages of life.


The personality segment of the AP Psychology Exam delves into the various theories and perspectives surrounding personality traits, encompassing psychodynamic, humanistic, and trait-based approaches to understanding individual differences and behavioral patterns.

Psychodynamic theories, popularized by Sigmund Freud, focus on the unconscious mind’s role in shaping personality. They emphasize the influence of early childhood experiences and unresolved conflicts.

In contrast, humanistic approaches, exemplified by Carl Rogers, emphasize the individual’s potential for self-realization and personal growth. They stress the importance of self-actualization and a positive self-concept.

Trait-based perspectives categorize individuals according to personality traits such as openness, conscientiousness, extraversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism. They employ measures like the Big Five Inventory to assess these dimensions and predict behavioral tendencies.

Testing and Individual Differences

The testing and individual differences section in the AP Psychology Exam delves into assessment methods, intelligence testing, and the complexities of individual differences, shedding light on the challenges and nuances of psychological measurement.

Assessment methods, such as standardized tests, interviews, observations, and self-report measures, offer valuable insights into an individual’s cognitive abilities, personality traits, and emotional intelligence.

Intelligence testing techniques, including the use of IQ tests and cognitive assessments, aim to quantify intellectual potential. The accuracy of these measures can be influenced by cultural biases and socio-economic factors, making it essential to consider the diverse backgrounds and experiences of test-takers.

Individual differences in cognitive processes and learning styles pose further challenges to measurement. Factors like motivation, attention, and memory play a crucial role in shaping an individual’s performance on assessments. This highlights the need for multifaceted evaluation tools that accommodate variations in cognitive functioning and behavioral responses.

Abnormal Psychology

The abnormal psychology segment of the AP Psychology Exam explores the complexities of psychological disorders, including diagnostic criteria, prevalence rates, and the challenges associated with understanding and addressing abnormal behaviors and mental health conditions.

To fully understand the diagnostic criteria for psychological disorders, it is important to have a comprehensive understanding of the different classification systems. These systems, such as the DSM-5 or ICD-10, provide specific criteria and guidelines for identifying and diagnosing various mental health conditions.

The prevalence rates of these disorders can vary greatly, with conditions like anxiety disorders and depression affecting a large portion of the population.

The interplay of genetic, environmental, and sociocultural factors also adds complexity to the study of abnormal psychology and contributes to the diverse manifestations of these conditions within different populations.

Treatment of Psychological Disorders

The treatment of psychological disorders section in the AP Psychology Exam delves into therapeutic approaches, intervention strategies, and the complexities of addressing mental health conditions, offering insights into the multifaceted nature of psychological treatments and support mechanisms.

Therapeutic modalities encompass a diverse range of approaches, each tailored to address specific mental health conditions. From cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) to psychodynamic therapy, these interventions aim to guide individuals through their challenges and facilitate a deeper understanding of their thoughts, emotions, and behaviors.

The integration of pharmacological treatments, such as antidepressants and anxiolytics, is central to managing certain psychological disorders.

The combination of medication and therapy can provide a comprehensive approach to addressing complex conditions, emphasizing the biopsychosocial model and the interconnectedness of biological, psychological, and social factors in mental health.

What is the Recommended Study Schedule for the AP Psychology Exam?

The recommended study schedule for the AP Psychology Exam involves a strategic approach, spanning 2-3 months before the exam, with focused review and practice sessions one month and two weeks before the test, culminating in targeted preparations during the week of the exam for optimal readiness.

During the initial phase of the study schedule, students should allocate time to thoroughly understand the key concepts and theories covered in the AP Psychology curriculum.

It’s crucial to familiarize oneself with the exam format and structure, emphasizing practice with past papers and sample questions to build confidence and understanding of the exam’s expectations.

As the exam date approaches, the focus should shift towards intensive review sessions, incorporating flashcards, quizzes, and concept mapping to reinforce knowledge retention.

Allocating time for practice tests under simulated exam conditions can help students assess their progress and identify areas needing further improvement.

During the final week leading up to the exam, targeted preparations should include revisiting challenging topics, refining essay writing techniques, and implementing effective time management strategies to ensure maximum performance on the day of the test.

2-3 Months Before the Exam

The initial phase of the study schedule entails early preparation and comprehensive review of foundational concepts, theories, and key principles relevant to the AP Psychology Exam, setting the stage for in-depth understanding and retention of essential content.

During this phase, it is crucial to cultivate a solid grasp of fundamental psychological theories. This includes the psychoanalytic, cognitive, and behavioral perspectives.

A thorough review of key psychological studies and experiments that have influenced the field is also vital for a well-rounded understanding.

Allocating time for regular practice questions and self-assessment can help gauge the assimilation of the reviewed material. This can lead to early identification of areas that require further focus and clarification.

1 Month Before the Exam

The phase one month before the exam focuses on targeted review and practice, honing in on specific areas of study, engaging in practice tests, and refining analytical skills and application of psychological concepts to exam scenarios.

To maximize the effectiveness of this phase, it’s crucial to establish a structured study plan that allocates dedicated time for each subject or section based on individual strengths and weaknesses.

Utilize exam study guides and review materials to ensure comprehensive coverage of the curriculum, and regularly supplement study sessions with practice questions and scenario-based assessments to reinforce understanding and retention.

Implementing a systematic approach to review and practice will consolidate knowledge and enhance confidence in tackling the rigors of the impending exam.

2 Weeks Before the Exam

The phase two weeks before the exam intensifies the review process, engaging in mock exams, and refining test-taking strategies, ensuring comprehensive and strategic readiness for the AP Psychology Exam.

During this critical phase, students immerse themselves in a flurry of review materials, diving into AP Psychology textbooks, notes, and practice tests. They hone their critical thinking skills, dissecting complex psychological concepts and theories.

They meticulously analyze sample questions and past exam papers, identifying recurring patterns and common pitfalls. This focused approach fosters a deeper understanding of the exam format and content, enabling students to tackle even the most challenging questions with confidence.

They fine-tune their time management techniques, simulating real exam conditions to optimize their performance on the big day.

The Week of the Exam

The week leading up to the AP Psychology Exam focuses on final preparations, test strategies, and optimizing mental readiness, ensuring that students are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and mindset required for success on the exam day.

During this phase, students typically review key concepts, go through practice exams, and engage in targeted revision sessions to solidify their understanding of the material.

They also focus on honing their test-taking strategies, paying special attention to time management, question analysis, and effective essay writing techniques.

Mental readiness becomes a key aspect as students work on managing stress, staying focused, and maintaining a positive mindset throughout their preparation.

Implementing effective study schedules, prioritizing areas that require more attention, and seeking support from mentors or study groups are vital components of this crucial phase.

All these efforts contribute significantly to boosting students’ confidence and performance on the day of the exam, enabling them to showcase their knowledge and abilities effectively.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the schedule for the AP Psychology Exam 2018?

The AP Psychology Exam for 2018 will be held on Monday, May 7th at 12:00 PM.

How long is the AP Psychology Exam for 2018?

The exam is approximately 3 hours long.

Is there a specific time for the break during the AP Psychology Exam 2018?

Yes, there is a 10-minute break between the multiple-choice and free-response sections of the exam.

Can I bring a calculator to the AP Psychology Exam 2018?

Yes, you are allowed to use a calculator for certain sections of the exam. However, it must be a four-function, scientific, or graphing calculator.

What topics will be covered on the AP Psychology Exam for 2018?

The exam will cover a variety of topics, including research methods, biological bases of behavior, sensation and perception, learning and cognition, and abnormal behavior and treatment.

Will I receive my AP Psychology Exam 2018 scores immediately after completing the exam?

No, scores for the 2018 exam will be available online in July. Your scores will also be sent to the college or university of your choice if you requested it during the registration process.

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