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How to Get a 5 in AP Psychology

5 min readnovember 18, 2020

dalia

Dalia Savy


Getting a 5️⃣ on the AP Psychology Exam is very doable with hard work and practice. Plus, we've got some tips and tricks for you to help you get the score you deserve in May 😌

Tips & Tricks

1. Know the Exam Format 📚

Before preparing for the exam, it's good to know what exactly is on it. Here is a quick overview:

Section 1: Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)

  • You have 1 hour and 10 minutes to answer 100 MCQs
  • These will count for 66.7% of your total exam score

Section 2: Free Response Questions (FRQ)

  • You have 50 minutes to answer 2 FRQs
  • These will count for 33.3% of your total exam score
Here is also a quick breakdown of what units are on the test:

Unit Weighting — AP Exam

UnitsWeight on Exam
Unit 1: Scientific Foundations of Psychology10-14%
Unit 2: Biological Bases of Psychology8-10%
Unit 3: Sensation and Perception6-8%
Unit 4: Learning7-9%
Unit 5: Cognitive Psychology13-17%
Unit 6: Developmental Psychology7-9%
Unit 7: Motivation, Emotion, and Personality11-15%
Unit 8: Clinical Psychology12-16%
Unit 9: Social Psychology8-10%
Looking at the exam breakdown, you can identify which units you should prioritize over the others. Since about 13-15% of the exam will be about cognitive psychology 🧠 and 12-16% will be about clinical psychology🛋️, you should focus on these two units more than sensation and perception 👀

2. Study Throughout the Year 📅

Pacing is important!
AP Psychology 🧠 covers so many different topics that involve your wellbeing and social interactions/behaviors. This course generally includes lots and lots of vocabulary terms, so start memorizing early! 🤔
Throughout the year, as you learn each unit, try and memorize each term for your exam ✍️ Doing well on your unit exams and preparing for them will help you in the long run.
Memorizing once and then refreshing your memory in April when studying for the AP is much more effective than cramming! You actually learn this term in psych - relearning.
This only ensures that you understand the content🧠 and leaves much more time to do practice questions❓ when studying for the exam. Set yourself up for success and try not to cause yourself too much stress!
There are tons of resources you could use to help you study!
👉5 Best Resources for AP Psychology (coming soon)
Study a little bit everyday, and trust me, you'll do so much better in the long run ☺️

Resources:

3. Apply the Vocabulary to your Life! 💯

On the exam, you will be given situations and asked to apply psychological concepts or explain behavior using a term you learned throughout the year. With such a fun and interesting course, why not practice this on your own with situations in your own life? 😍
Every time you learn a new term, try and figure out a time where you've seen it in action 🎬 For example, you could probably think of several times where you've seen polarization between two groups.
Group polarization is discussed in Unit 9, but there are millions of different situations you could come up with where there are two groups with extremely opposing views. What's a better example to use than our own political system 🔴🔵?
Applying the vocab to real life situations only makes it easier to understand and memorize 😉

4. Do Practice Questions❓

After applying situations to your own life, try some AP practice questions.
Use your textbook throughout the year for solid ones that would help you understand each unit further🔖
"Really understand the vocab and how to apply it! At the end of each unit, I would go over the vocab and find ways to apply it — there are many FRQs to work on that." —Abby L.
Once May comes around (sadly, sooner than you expect it 😫), try doing tons of past AP FRQs.
AP Classroom is also a really good source for practice questions, so be sure to take advantage of this free, accessible content.

5. Know your Strengths and Weaknesses when Studying

Know yourself:
  • Know how you learn 🤔
    • Do you prefer watching videos or reading study guides to help you review content? Does writing information down several times help with memory 🧠? What about diagrams📊?
  • Know what information you are comfortable with 😆
    • Make a table with two columns (comfortable with / need improvement on) and just review this column briefly.
  • Know what content you need more practice with 😰
    • Using the above table, place content that you need more practice with in the "need improvement on" column. Focusing your studying in specific areas becomes very helpful and efficient. 💯
Everyone learns differently, so find something that works for you!
Also, don't stress if you are taking a little more time trying to apply the content and need to ask more questions in class. Seriously, don't be scared! Asking questions and wanting to learn and do better is always a good thing 🥳

6. Draw Diagrams and Create Tables 📊

A lot of the information you learn in AP Psych can either be organized in tables or represented by a diagram. 📈
Almost every unit could be organized in table form. For example, Unit 2, Biological Bases of Psychology, involves lots of diagrams of the brain 🧠
An example of using diagrams and tables for your benefit is trying to memorize one and then filling out a blank one. If you were trying to memorize the parts of the brain and their functions ⚙️, you could label each part of the brain and write the function of the part right next to it.
This not only helps you memorize, as you can do this several times, but it's also more entertaining than trying to memorize by reading (at least in my opinion🤭).

Closing Thoughts

Stay confident and take things slow! Memorizing and practicing is 🔑, especially with such a content heavy course.
The most important tip you should take away from this guide is to always apply the terms to real-life situations. The exam doesn't test your ability to define a term; the College Board wants to see you put your knowledge to use🧠
Don't forget to have fun too; you learn some pretty cool things in AP Psych 😉
"Keep your mind open! Be ready to learn and digest new information every day. Keep up with your readings, and the course will leave you with [the] knowledge that will change your thinking for the better." — Meghna P.

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Browse Study Guides By Unit
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Big Reviews: Finals & Exam Prep
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Free Response Questions (FRQ)
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Multiple Choice Questions (MCQ)
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Unit 1: Scientific Foundations of Psychology
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Unit 2: Biological Bases of Behavior
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Unit 3: Sensation and Perception
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Unit 4: Learning
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Unit 5: Cognitive Psychology
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Unit 6: Developmental Psychology
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Unit 7: Motivation, Emotion, & Personality
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Unit 8: Clinical Psychology
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Unit 9: Social Psychology
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