The exam is approximately two hours long and has two parts — multiple choice and free response. The multiple choice section is worth two-thirds and the free response section is worth one-third of the final exam grade.

Section I: Multiple Choice — 100 questions; 1 hour and 10 minutes

The portion of multiple choice questions covering each course topic area is:

  • 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%)
  • Learning (7%–9%)
  • Cognition (8%–10%)
  • Motivation and Emotion (6%–8%)
  • Developmental Psychology (7%–9%)
  • Personality (5%–7%)
  • Testing and Individual Differences (5%–7%)
  • Abnormal Psychology (7%–9%)
  • Treatment of Psychological Disorders (5%–7%)
  • Social Psychology (8%–10%)

It is important to remember that this outline is meant to be guide only and should not be considered a complete list of topics or a preferred order of topics.

Questions may ask you to:

  • Apply psychological terms (e.g., genotype, echoic memory, mania, phonemes) to given scenarios
  • Interpret concepts from a particular psychological theory (e.g., Kohlberg's theory of moral judgment, attribution theory)
  • Identify and discuss the theoretical framework with which a given explanation is associated (e.g., an explanation of depression in terms of norepinephrine levels)
  • Demonstrate a general understanding of the scientific method and explain findings from major research studies or areas of study

Total scores on the multiple-choice section are based on the number of questions answered correctly. Points are not deducted for incorrect answers and no points are awarded for unanswered questions.

Section II: Free Response — 2 questions; 50 minutes

The free-response section of the AP Psychology exam consists of two questions worth 33% of the total exam score. The questions may require students to interrelate different content areas and analyze and evaluate psychological concepts and/or theoretical perspectives. Students are expected to use their analytical and organizational skills to formulate cogent answers in writing their essays.

To demonstrate an understanding of psychological concepts, perspectives, and research methodology, students must answer the questions clearly, in complete sentences, and within the context of the prompt. Outlines and lists alone are not acceptable responses. Providing definitions of the psychological terms alone may not score points but may help students better apply the concepts. Responses that contradict themselves, involve circular definitions, or simply restate the question are unacceptable.

The following are common directives used in the AP Psychology Free-Response Questions (FRQs).

  • Identify requires that students name or point out psychological concepts as they pertain to the question.
  • Show or describe requires students to detail the essential characteristics and/or examples of a particular concept, theory, or phenomenon.
  • Explain, discuss, and relate require that students make logical and coherent connections among the prompt (or premise), question, and psychological concepts.

 

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