AP Psychology Tips and Test Taking Strategies

By April 23, 2019 September 13th, 2019 High School Study Tips
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When it comes to your AP Psychology test, you’re definitely going to want to check out these AP Psychology tips and test-taking strategies. Each of these should help make your studying a little bit easier, and maybe make it easier for you to get the 5 you’re looking for.

If you’re taking all that time and putting in all that work to take an AP class you want to make sure you’re getting the credit for it, right? You want to make sure that you take the test and that you’re going to get a good grade so it will apply toward the university of your choice. That’s why we’ve done some research to help you out.

Each of these tips is designed to make your studying more effective, whether they’re general test-taking tips and strategies or they’re focused on the different parts of the test. That way, you can focus on the areas that are most important or most difficult to you and skim through the rest.

Make sure you’re doing everything you can to study the right way, and definitely don’t skip out on anything you need for your AP class now that you’re in the home stretch. This test isn’t going to be easy, but it doesn’t have to be as difficult as you might think it is. At least, not if you know what you’re doing.

The test is created by CollegeBoard, and that means they’re going to be one of your best resources for studying your AP Psychology syllabus, but they’re definitely not the only resource you’re going to want to use, so make sure you take a closer look at this AP Psychology exam study guide.

If you’re looking for the best AP Psychology review books, read our detailed guide here.

AP Psychology General Study TipsGeneral How to Study for AP Psychology Tips

We’ll take a look at more specific tips and sections of the test in a minute, but first, let’s take a look at some general ideas. Each of these skills are going to help you overall, with the entire test. They’re going to help you study in general so you can make sure you have the knowledge and the foundation that you’re going to need to do well in all aspects that this test is going to focus on. Also, start from the AP Psychology midterm when you’re beginning intense studying.

  1. Check Out Appsychology.com – While you’re here, you’re going to find a whole lot of practice questions, and they’re separated by topic. That means you can focus on the areas that you’re struggling with instead of the areas that you’re already confident in.
  2. Create your own quiz – Quizlet is one of the most popular ways to study for just about anything, and it lets you create quizzes that focus on areas you’re struggling in. With this system, you’re going to have an easy way to study when you want, and you can trade out questions however you want. You’ll have AP Psychology review games here.
  3. Take practice tests on CollegeBoard – This is the producer of the test, so they’re definitely the people you want to study with. Their AP Psychology practice test is actually official tests that were used in the past. That means you’re getting a look at questions that are realistic to the real thing.
  4. Practice old FRQs on CollegeBoard – These are going to be the hardest questions in the entire test, so you’re going to want to look at some of the previous questions, so you have a good idea of what the questions look like as well as the type of information that they’re looking for in a response.
  5. Review responses for FRQs – When you look at the old FRQs you’re going to want to take a look at the recommended responses as well. This will show you what you’re likely going to be graded on and what you should be writing out when you answer your own FRQs in the official test you’re taking.
  6. A lot of memorization – This test is actually going to focus more on memorizing information and vocabulary rather than being able to conceptualize like you would be doing with other tests. If you know how to regurgitate information you’ll be better off.
  7. Make flash cards for vocab – When it comes to the vocabulary you want to make sure you’re using flash cards. These will help you a whole lot more when it comes to the memorization of the information. They’ll also make sure that you can apply the information later.
  8. Always be studying throughout class – When it comes to your class, you should be paying attention to the information that you go over in class as well as any information you’re struggling with. You want to make sure you read the Psychology textbook along with your class and that you’re taking AP Psychology notes.
  9. Online courses can help you improve your learning – If you’re in need of a little more information or if you’re struggling with certain areas or even if you just want a little more review you can look at different online courses. These courses are going to make it easier for you to double up your information.
  10. Pay attention to psychological concepts in real life – Look for psychological concepts in your normal life. You will likely see examples just walking down the street or spending time with your family and friends. Seeing these things in real life makes them a whole lot easier for you to remember.
  11. Find a study group – A study group can make it a whole lot easier for you to stay focused and it’s also going to help you get the hang of any information that you might have trouble with. Teaching someone information you know well can also help it to stick even better in your head. Create an AP Psychology review packet together.
  12. Outline sections of the course – As you’re going through the course take the time to outline the information. You want to make sure you can focus on the most important sections and that you will be able to go back to information about the sections as you continue through other areas with your AP Psychology review.
  13. Know why you make mistakes on questions – When you’re doing practice questions and practice tests you want to make sure that you’re paying attention to the specific ones you get wrong. Know why you’re making those mistakes and focus on how you’re going to improve those areas.
  14. Focus on your weak areas – Spend more time on the areas that you’re weak in. Rather than spending a lot of time on areas that you’re already strong in you’re going to see more improvement and a better result on your final test if you focus on areas you’re not doing well on.
  15. Score your practice tests – When you finish a practice test make sure you go through and score it. This is going to help you pick out the areas where you’re making mistakes as well as the areas where you’re already weak. If you’re not scoring the tests you’re going to miss the improvements you could be making.
  16. Know what’s not on the test – Pay attention to the things that are actually on the test and the things that aren’t. You don’t want to waste your time studying things that aren’t even going to be on your test. You can find what information is going to be there (or could be) on CollegeBoard’s website.
  17. Create mnemonics – There are some things that you’re going to need, and mnemonics could be a great way to do it. If you’re feeling comfortable with it just go ahead and create your own or you can probably find some online with different research systems.
  18. Use review books – Review books are going to be important and can help you study the important information that’s going to be on the test. Make sure you’re getting books like the Princeton Review and Barron’s because these are some of the best and most popular for a reason. Use a quality AP Psychology book.
  19. Study hard the last week – The last week is going to be the most important time, and you want to make sure that you’re really pushing yourself at this point. You’re going to need extra practice here, and this is going to be the last big draw before you cut yourself off the day before.
  20. Know the psychological perspectives – The psychological perspectives are definitely going to be on your test so make sure you understand these and how they interact within the field. Make sure you also know how to apply them in different situations.
  21. Mimic the situation – Did you know that you’re actually more likely to regurgitate the information you need for your test if you read it the first time when you’re in a similar environment? Set up a room very similar to the test room and use that as your study space to trigger the information when you get to the test.
  22. Use repetition to your advantage – When it comes to psychology, you’re going to see that repetition is a big part of the whole thing. Well, you can actually use that repetition when it comes to studying because you can focus on repeating areas that you struggle with until they stick.
  23. Apply the concepts – This is going to be one of the most important aspects of your test. You’ll need to know how the different concepts actually apply in the real world and in different situations. If you can apply them you’re going to have a leg up in the actual exam.
  24. Try online courses – There are online courses for just about anything, and you may be able to find some that are related to the specific areas of psychology that you’re struggling with. If you can then take a little time to go through these courses alongside your other studying or your class.
  25. Know the key figures in psychology – You should know about the different people who are important to psychology and how they contributed. You should know what they did and why their contributions were actually important in the long run or how they changed things in psychology.
  26. Know the research methods – Research methods are going to be an important aspect of your test as well. Make sure you understand each of them as well as how to apply them when they were invented and by whom. The more you know about them, the better off you’ll be.
  27. Remove your distractions – It’s always important to remove excess distractions when you’re trying to get anything done. You want to make sure you have a way to focus and that you’re not going to be annoyed or sidetracked by music, loud noises, TV or other people in your household.
  28. Get a tutor – If you’re struggling with this topic or any of the specific areas within this topic, you may want to look into getting a tutor who can help you with AP Psychology exam practice. They may be a professional or someone who has taken the test already and may be able to help you with areas that they struggled too.

AP Psychology Multiple Choice TipsAP Psychology Multiple Choice Tips

The multiple choice questions are going to take up most of the exam at 100 questions, and they’re also responsible for the most significant portion of your score. In fact, these questions are going to account for approximately 66.6% of your total exam score, and you’re going to have 1 hour and 10 minutes to answer all of them. That doesn’t give you a whole lot of time per question, so it’s going to be very important for you to moderate your time on your AP Psychology multiple choice answers.

  1. Use process of elimination – You should always use the process of elimination for questions that you aren’t entirely sure on. In nearly all cases you can get rid of at least one incorrect answer. That improves your chance of getting the question right from 25% to 33%. Every bit helps.
  2. Use your own logic – It’s going to be essential to read through each question and answer with logic. In psychology, the information has to make logical sense. That means you need to find an answer that seems to fit. Make sure that you’re paying attention to how the answers really do when it comes to reasonability.
  3. Answer questions you know first – Read through the questions quickly and answer any of the questions that you know first. That means if you can read it and immediately understand what the answer is, write it down and fill in the bubble. Then move on to the rest of the questions.
  4. Choose an answer after reading the question – Before you even read the answers try to come up with what the answer to that question is going to be. If the answer is in the options choose it, fill in the bubble and move on. Don’t waste any additional time on it.
  5. Look for words in the question that change the meaning – Words like ‘always,’ ‘never,’ or ‘not’ are going to change the meaning of the question entirely. Make sure that you’re watching for these words and that you answer the question according to what is actually being asked.
  6. No penalty for guessing – You’re not going to lose points or be otherwise penalized for taking a guess. That’s why educated guesses are best but even if you have no idea about a question make sure you put something down. You have a 25% chance of being right if you guess.
  7. Don’t overthink the question – Don’t think too hard about a question. Chances are it’s not as complex as you think it is and you could end up getting an answer wrong because you’re not paying attention to what’s actually being asked of you when you read the question.
  8. Choose the best answer, not just a correct answer – There could be more than one answer that’s technically correct, but there’s only going to be one answer that’s the best one. Make sure you’re reading through all of the answers and that you choose the one that’s best.
  9. All questions are worth the same – You get the same number of points for each question that you answer in this section. Don’t spend time on difficult questions first. Make sure you’re reading through the easier ones and skipping over difficult ones the first pass through.
  10. Keep your score sheet right – If you’re going to be jumping around to different questions especially you need to make sure that your score sheet is accurate. Make sure you’re not skipping over any of the questions or that you’re not getting answers in the wrong bubbles or for the wrong question.

AP Psychology FRQ TipsAP Psychology Free Response Questions Tips

With the free response questions, you’re going to have a total of 50 minutes to answer only 2 prompts. That means you have 25 minutes for each one and together they make up 33.3% of your total score. That means you want to take your time on each of these and you want to make sure you’re answering them as fully and accurately as possible. You don’t want to underestimate how important they are just because the multiple choice portion is responsible for a larger percentage of your total score.

  1. Budget your time carefully – You only get 50 minutes for these 2 questions, and while that may sound like a lot, you don’t want to realize that you’ve spent entirely too much time on one of the questions and not left yourself enough time to answer the other one.
  2. Look for verbs in the question – Verbs are going to tell you what you should be doing and how you should be answering the question. If you take the time to read for them and mark them down, you’ll be able to focus on these areas when you start actually answering the question.
  3. Mark important sections in the prompt – When you’re reading through the prompt make sure you mark out the different sections that are most important. This isn’t just the verbs, but any areas that you can use when it comes to actually writing the answer down are also important.
  4. Use the right terms – Use terms correctly when you write out your answer. You need to show that you know the terminology and that you know how to apply it within the situation accurately. You should also use terms that are used in the prompt to show you understand them.
  5. Use specific examples in your answer – Include examples that are specific and practical. This shows that you know what the question is asking you for and that you fully understand the theories or situations that you’re actually talking about and you should get the points.
  6. Review the rubric – Before you get to test day, you should be reviewing the rubric of what is actually graded when it comes to your FRQs. You want to make sure you’re focusing on the most important content, and formats and the old rubrics are going to give you a better idea of that.
  7. Review the instructions – Make sure you know the instructions for the question that you’re answering and what you’ll need to do in order actually to get any score at all. You’ll want to read through the instructions one more time before you even start writing.
  8. Answer in the answer booklet – Don’t get caught up in writing out notes and information in your test booklet. The reader that grades your test is only going to receive the answer booklet, and they are not going to receive the test booklet that you wrote more information in.
  9. Don’t restate the question – You have no need to restate the question. Even though the reader isn’t going to get your test booklet they do have a copy of the question. They don’t need you to rewrite it, and you don’t want to take all the time that it’s going to cost in order to rewrite it.
  10. Get to the point – Make sure that you jump right into whatever is the point of your statement. Give the thesis or the main idea behind what you’re writing off the bat, and your reader is going to be more likely to give you the points that you want for your answer.
  11. State the intent behind all of your evidence – Explain what your evidence is trying to do. Explain whether you’re using it to back up your idea or whether it’s being used as a contrary point. Make sure you express your intent clearly so you can make sure that your information is clear and understandable.
  12. Plan out your answer before you start writing – Before you even start writing out your answers you want to make sure you have a good idea of what you’re going to write and how you’re going to write it. You could make an actual outline, or you could just jot down some points.
  13. Demonstrate a thorough understanding – You need to show that you actually understand what’s being asked of you and how that information relates to different situations or to the world. The question is going to ask you to exhibit what you know about the topic, make sure you delve into it.
  14. Use complete sentences – Don’t use bullet points or an outline as your entire answer. You should have complete sentences and paragraphs that are going to express what you want to say. These will also help you showcase information about your evidence.
  15. Know what the question is asking – Make sure you read the question carefully and that you fully understand what it’s asking you to do. You don’t want to miss out on points because you thought the question was leaning in one direction and it’s actually asking you to look at something else entirely.
  16. Don’t bother with a 5 paragraph essay – You don’t need a full 5 paragraph essay, though, as we mentioned, you will need full sentences and paragraphs. What you don’t need is the introduction and conclusion that you’ll find with a lot of formal essay structure.
  17. Answer every section of the question – The question is likely going to have multiple parts so make sure you’re looking at each part of the question and that you’re answering each of them. Use evidence and information to back up your answer all the way through.

AP Psychology Test Day TipsAP Psychology Test Day Tips

When it comes to test day you want to make sure you have a few things already prepared and that you’re fully ready for everything that’s going to come. After all, test day is the one that you’re preparing for and that you’re going through all of this for. You don’t want to make a mistake when you get all the way to the finish line, right? So, make sure you’re reading through each of these tips and strategies to keep you ready for that big day.

  1. Be prepared before the day – Make sure you have everything you’re going to need for the day of the test and that it’s fully prepared before you get to that morning. You want to make sure you have all the information you’re going to need and all the tools as well.
  2. Know what’s allowed and what isn’t – Make sure you know the items you’re allowed to bring in with you on test day and the things that you need to leave behind. You don’t want to be kicked out of the test because you brought your smartwatch, for example.
  3. Know when and where to be – Make sure you know where the test is being given, and you know what time it’s going to start. You want to plan on being there early to get to your seat and relax a moment before everything starts. Make a test run driving to the test site at least one day before the test.
  4. Eat right – Eat a good breakfast before you head out to the test so you can make sure you’re not hungry in the middle of everything. You won’t be able to focus if you’re concerned about how hungry you are or you’re thinking about when you can get to that snack you brought along.
  5. Take the day off studying – The day before your test you should not be studying at all. You should be resting and taking a little bit of time to yourself. Studying during this time can actually be counterintuitive and could cause you to forget more than you learn of your AP Psychology review test.
  6. Relax – Even though this test might be necessary to you it’s also essential that you relax before you take it. You want to make sure you’re focused on what’s in front of you, but stressing about it is definitely not going to help you. Taking a few minutes (at least) to breathe will help you along.
  7. Get 8-10 hours of sleep – Getting enough sleep the night before the exam is going to be an extremely important step because it keeps you focused. When you’re tired, you’re not going to be able to pay attention to the questions or to make sure you remember everything right.
  8. Schedule it for right after the class – The best time to take your test is going to be right after you’ve taken the class. That’s when the information is going to be the freshest, and it’s when you’re going to be most prepared. If you can schedule the exam for right when the class is done, you’ll have the most information.

Hopefully, each of these 63 tips and strategies are going to make it a whole lot easier for you to do well on your test. It’s especially important for you to take a look at AP Psychology review questions and to take the official tests from CollegeBoard to get an idea of what you can expect. You want to get a great score so you can use it for your university admission. So make sure you’re looking through this AP Psychology study guide and that you’re putting them into practice for yourself.

If you found this helpful, be sure to read our detailed guide to the best AP Psychology review books here.


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