The purpose of the AP course in Psychology is to introduce the systematic and scientific study of the behavior and mental processes of human beings and other animals. Included is a consideration of the psychological facts, principles, and phenomena associated with each of the major subfields within psychology. Students also learn about the ethics and methods psychologists use in their science and practice.

An introductory college course in psychology is generally one semester in length, with some variation among colleges. An AP course in psychology need not follow any specific college curriculum. Rather, the aim is to provide a learning experience equivalent to that obtained in most college introductory psychology courses.

This course covers the following topics and includes a percentage range of each topic’s weight in the course and on the exam:

  1. History and Approaches (2%–4%)
    1. History of Psychology
    2. Approaches
    3. Subfields in Psychology
  2. Research Methods (8%–10%)
    1. Experimental, Correlational, and Clinical Research:
    2. Statistics
    3. Ethics in Research
  3. Biological Bases of Behavior (8%–10%)
    1. Physiological Techniques (e.g., imaging, surgical)
    2. Neuroanatomy
    3. Functional Organization of Nervous System
    4. Neural Transmission
    5. Neuroplasticity
    6. Endocrine System
    7. Genetics
    8. Evolutionary Psychology
  4. Sensation and Perception (6%–8%)
    1. Thresholds and Signal Detection Theory
    2. Sensory Mechanisms
    3. Attention
    4. Perceptual Processes
  5. States of Consciousness (2%–4%)
    1. Sleep and Dreaming
    2. Hypnosis
    3. Psychoactive Drug Effects
  6. Learning (7%–9%)
    1. Classical Conditioning
    2. Operant Conditioning
    3. Cognitive Processes
    4. Biological Factors
    5. Social Learning
  7. Cognition (8%–10%)
    1. Memory
    2. Language
    3. Thinking
    4. Problem Solving and Creativity
  8. Motivation and Emotion (6%–8%)
    1. Biological Bases
    2. Theories of Motivation
    3. Hunger, Thirst, Sex, and Pain
    4. Social Motives
    5. Theories of Emotion
    6. Stress
  9. Developmental Psychology (7%–9%)
    1. Life-Span Approach
    2. Research Methods (e.g., longitudinal, cross-sectional)
    3. Heredity-Environment Issues
    4. Developmental Theories
    5. Dimensions of Development
    6. Sex and Gender Development
  10. Personality (5%–7%)
    1. Personality Theories and Approaches
    2. Assessment Techniques
    3. Growth and Adjustment
  11. Testing and Individual Differences (5%–7%)
    1. Standardization and Norms
    2. Reliability and Validity
    3. Types of Tests
    4. Ethics and Standards in Testing
    5. Intelligence
  12. Abnormal Psychology (7%–9%)
    1. Definitions of Abnormality
    2. Theories of Psychopathology
    3. Diagnosis of Psychopathology
    4. Types of Disorders
  13. Treatment of Psychological Disorders (5%–7%)
    1. Treatment Approaches
    2. Modes of Therapy (e.g., individual, group)
    3. Community and Preventive Approaches
  14. Social Psychology (8%–10%)

    1. Group Dynamics
    2. Attribution Processes
    3. Interpersonal Perception
    4. Conformity, Compliance, Obedience
    5. Attitudes and Attitude Change
    6. Organizational Behavior
    7. Aggression/Antisocial Behavior
    8. Cultural Influences

For more detail on the course topics covered in AP Psychology, see the Course and Exam Description.

Links to More AP Pages

Did you just take the PSAT/NMSQT?

If you did, it can help you find the courses that are the best fit for you.

Visit My College QuickStart (Opens in new window)
Course not offered at your school?

Talk to your counselor about taking the course online through an approved provider.

Learn how to get started