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7 Study tips for the AP Psychology Exam

29/09/20225 minute read
7 Study tips for the AP Psychology Exam

Make a study date with yourself!

  • Allow yourself a minimum of 2-3 hours per week to study for the exam.  However, do not study one time a week for multiple hours.  Break up your time over the week in 20-30 minute intervals. 
  • Chunk the information:  Don’t overload yourself with pages and pages of notes. Break it down into “bite-size” pieces.  
  • Review all types of information:  By reviewing information you already know; you won’t be as confident going into the exam.  However, it is important to keep the information you are confident with fresh in your mind. 
  • Dedicate more time to the subject a month prior to the exam:  When April rolls around, increase your study time to 3-4+ hours a week.  Again, use timing intervals and chunk the information.  

Know your vocabulary

  • AP Psychology vocabulary is more advanced than simply restating a definition.  At the very beginning while you are becoming familiar with the terms, use flashcards to actively learn the definitions.  
  • Practical application:  After you are comfortable with the definitions, you need to be able to use the terms practically.  Meaning, you will need to be able to apply them to the question that is being stated.  You will not see questions like this: “What is the definition of an independent variable?”  Instead, you will see questions more like this:  “A group of researchers are seeking to determine if a new diet plan is the key to a healthy lifestyle.  100 people were randomly assigned into two groups, Group A and Group B.  Group A would be placed in the group new diet group, while Group B would not alter their dietary habits.  Explain and apply the following terms to the scenario above: 
    • Independent Variable
    • Dependent Variable
    • Experimental Design
  • Do not use a search engine to find your definitions.  Use only your textbook, College Board, or another APA (American Psychological Association) resource.

Know the different types of research methods and experimental design

Be able to identify, define, and apply the following concepts: 

  • Independent variable:  The changing variable in the study
  • Dependent variable:  The variable that is being measured in the study
  • Operational definitions of terms
  • Correlation vs Causation:  Remember, just because there may be a correlation (a relationship) between two variables, does not mean that one variable causes the other to occur.

Know how to do math WITHOUT the calculator.  

You may need to calculate the central tendencies of a data set.  BE able to calculate the mean, median, mode, and potentially standard deviation of a set of score. 

Chug Soda! 

When writing your free response questions (FRQ’s), it is imperative to remember that these are NOT essays.  The AP graders are not looking for extra information, they are looking for specific answers. Introductions and conclusions are not required or encouraged with this particular exam.   You will want to follow the C.H.U.G. S.O.D.A. method

  • Be CONCISE when answering the prompt
  • HANDWRITING needs to be legible.  If the grader can’t read it, you won’t earn points. 
  • UNDERLINE vocabulary words
  • GET RID of introduction and conclusion paragraphs.
  • SPACE between each answer 
  • ORGANIZE each term into its own section
  • DEFINE every term
  • APPLY the concept to the scenario.

Utilize College Board Resources.  

There are many resources at your disposal in MyAP.  Here are some that I highly recommend:

  • Videos:  Each unit in College Board provides several comprehensive videos covering each unit of AP Psychology.  These videos, while comprehensive, are the perfect length for learning, most at 10 minutes or less. 
  • Practice tests:  Download and take the precious years practice exams and, see how you do! Do not take the same test more than once.  By doing so, you are memorizing questions and answers, and not truly understanding the content.  
  • CED:  The CED stands for the Course Exam Description.  This is your all-encompassing guide to the units, vocabulary, and concepts that will be on the AP exam.  In turn, it will also tell you the percentage of each unit that will appear on the exam.

Breakdown of the exam

  • The date of the AP Exam will be on May 2nd, 2023 at 12pm local time
  • The exam will take place over a span of 2 hours
  • The exam itself will consist of 100 multiples choice questions, and 2 FRQ’s
    • FRQ Concept application:  You will be given a scenario where you will need to apply concepts to the scenario to demonstrate your understanding of the concept.  
    • FRQ Research design: You will be given data from some form of research and you’ll be assessed on your data analysis and scientific investigation skills.

Author: Mikayla Wagner, has a Master’s Degree in Psychology with an emphasis in child and adolescence from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology, along with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology from Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. She’s certified to teach grades 6-12 in AP Social Studies courses, including Psychology and Human Geography. This is her seventh-year teaching, and is proud to be joining the CGA team! 

Her true passion is sharing knowledge and teaching the new generation skills in all areas, not just academics. Exemplified by her goal as a teacher, which is to help all her students grow in academic, social and emotional areas.

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