AP® Psychology FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (2024)

Are you looking to understand the ins and outs of the 2024 AP® Psychology exam? Read the FAQs below to learn everything you need to know before crushing the test!

What We Review

Is AP® Psychology easy? What can make it hard?

The AP® Psychology course is definitely more difficult than the typical high school psychology course. AP® courses are meant to teach students at an introductory college level. Compared to other AP® exams, AP® Psychology is considered one of the easier exams to pass in the AP® catalog for the reasons described below.

In 2023, the AP® Psychology exam had a passing rate of 59.6%, with a mean score of 2.89.

Historically, the AP® Psychology exam has had a relatively high passing rate compared to all other AP® exams.

All of these statistics are based on the total number of students who sit for the AP® Psychology exam every year. This exam averages about 300,000 students yearly (in 2023, the exam had 321,329 test-takers), making it one of the most popular exams in the AP® test catalog.

If you want to maximize your study time, you’ll want to focus on the areas most represented in the exam. It will be helpful to know how the individual units are weighted on the exam so you can target your study time accordingly.

For the multiple-choice portion of the exam, each of the nine course units is represented, but with varying weights. Unit 1: Scientific Foundations of Psychology is weighted at 10-14% of the exam. Unit 5: Cognitive Psychology, makes up 13-17% of the exam. Unit 7: Motivation, Emotion, and Personality, accounts for 11-15% for the exam, and Unit 8: Clinical Psychology, makes up 12-16% of the exam. These four units account for roughly half of the exam content.

According to the AP® Psychology score calculator provided by Albert (previewed below), you will need to answer 53 of the 100 multiple-choice questions correctly and score at least 4 of the 7 possible points on each of the two free-response questions.

AP® Psychology FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (1)


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Is AP® Psychology worth it?

There are a variety of reasons why many students feel that taking the AP® Psychology exam is worth their time and effort. First, AP® courses, in general, provide a glimpse into college-level classes and the workload associated with them. Also, students who do well in AP® courses feel better prepared and more confident about their upcoming college experience.

Second, for students who plan to attend college, having AP® classes on your resume can assist you in the admissions process, especially at the more competitive colleges. According to the National Society of High School Scholars, “College admissions professionals like to see that you have challenged yourself and are also prepared for college-level curriculum. Doing well in AP® courses can show college admissions staff that you are ready to succeed in college.”

Third, and probably most importantly financially, are the potential savings you could realize when using AP® courses for college credit. Students who enter college with credits through AP® courses can see big savings by paying for fewer credit hours.

Below is a chart that shows these savings for a few select colleges that accept the AP® Psychology exam for college credit.

SchoolMinimum Score RequiredNumber of CreditsEstimated Tuition Savings
American University43$4,761
Rutgers University43$2,745
Univ of California – Berkeley32.7$1,461
Ohio State University33$3,735
Northeastern University44$6,308
San Diego State33$1,188
Texas A & M33$3,429
Carnegie Mellon49$6,786

The combination of all of these factors, both academically and financially, make most students feel that taking the AP® Psychology exam is worth it.

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When is the 2024 AP® Psychology exam?

The 2024 AP® Psychology exam will be given in person using paper-and-pencil tests. The 2024 AP® Psychology exam will take place on:

Thursday, May 9, 2024, at 12pm (noon) local time

Curious about when other AP® exams are happening in 2024? View or download the complete AP® exam schedule here.

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When do AP® Psychology scores typically come out?

According to the latest update from the College Board exam season timeline, students will receive their AP® scores in July 2024. Historically, the College Board typically releases AP® scores early in the month of July.

You’ll be able to access your AP® scores online with your College Board account username and password

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How is AP® Psychology scored? What’s the weighting of different questions?

Below is the scoring breakdown for the AP® Psychology exam:

SectionQuestionsTime% of Exam Score
1: Multiple Choice100 questions1 hour and 10 minutes66.7%
2: Free Response2 questions50 minutes33.3%

The first section is the multiple-choice section. In this section, you must answer 100 questions in one hour and 10 minutes. This requires you to answer questions at a rate of less than one minute per question.

In the multiple-choice section, you will be required to define and explain concepts as well as apply skills such as concept application, data analysis, and scientific investigation.

The free-response portion consists of two questions. In these questions, you will need to apply a variety of theories and concepts from different subsets of psychology. You will also be required to analyze research studies and analyze and interpret quantitative data.

Here are some more FRQ tips:

Pro tip: Memorization of terms and concepts is not enough to do well on the AP® Psychology exam. You will need to have the ability to apply these concepts to real-world scenarios in order to gain the best grade on this exam.The chart below shows how the different course units are reflected in the exam questions. To see how these weightings translate into an exam score, try Alberts’s free AP® Psychology score calculator.

UnitsExam Weighting
Unit 1: Scientific Foundations of Psychology10-14%
Unit 2: Biological Bases of Behavior8-10%
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%

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What happens if you fail AP® Psychology?

AP® Psychology FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (2)

Failing the AP® Psychology exam is not the end of the world. You can reduce the impact of a failing score on your academic career in many ways.

Students have the ability to take the AP® Psychology exam as often as they like. That means that if you fail the exam, you can retake it every May until you achieve the score you want. You will be responsible for all exam fees each time you choose to take the exam.

If you are concerned about the impact that failing the AP® Psychology exam might have on your overall high school GPA, you’ll be happy to hear that AP® exam grades are rarely factored into high school grades. Your AP® teacher will base your course grade on the work and tests that occurred prior to the AP® exam.

The college admissions process has the most opportunity to be impacted by failing the AP® Psychology exam. If you are attempting to use your AP® Psychology exam score for college credit, you will need a score of three or better in order to be awarded college credit.

However, as the student, you control which exam scores are sent to colleges. If you fail the exam, you can choose not to send the score. If you do end up sending a low score you have the ability to cancel it. You also have the ability to substitute a higher score from a future re-take.

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When do students typically take AP® Psychology? When is best?

According to our research, students typically take AP® Psychology in their sophom*ore year. It is commonly considered one of the easier exams, and, as a result, schools tend to recommend that it be taken earlier in a student’s AP® course career.

AP® Psychology typically requires no prerequisites and covers a straightforward body of knowledge that is easier for students to memorize and explain on an AP® exam. It does not cover as wide a content area as some of the other AP® History and Social Science exams, allowing students more time to get familiar with the content.

Since AP® Psychology is not as intensive as some of the other AP® courses like AP® World History or AP® US History, students can consider taking this alongside some of the more intensive courses. As you plan your high school career, it is helpful to know which AP® courses you want to take and plan each year’s courses in advance to attempt to pair more intensive courses with less intensive ones.

In the end, when you decide to take AP® Psychology is completely up to you. We recommend discussing the timing of your AP® courses with your teachers, your guidance counselor and your parents. They can provide you with valuable insight into when might be the right time to take AP® Psychology.

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Where can I find past AP® Psychology exams?

Past AP® Psychology exams for the last 20 years can be found on the AP® Central website.

You should take the time to review the free-response questions for the last few years. Reviewing these questions can help you understand what kinds of questions have been asked in the past. You can also see examples of answers that have received full points in the past. This information will allow you to better prepare for these difficult and rigorous questions.

Below, you will find links to the free-response questions for the AP® Psychology exam for recent years:

You can also prepare in advance for the multiple-choice portion of the AP® Psychology exam. The College Board has provided a few multiple choice questions in their AP® Psychology Course and Exam Description. However, this guide only provides a few multiple-choice questions, so it won’t cover all of the concepts that will be covered on the exam.

You can get more multiple-choice practice on Albert’s AP® Psychology exam prep page. This page provides hundreds of additional multiple-choice questions that are aligned with the learning objectives of the AP® Psychology course.

To fully prepare for the AP® Psychology exam, you should explore all of the resources available on the AP® Central website. The College Board has compiled a wealth of useful information that can help you boost your score.

The scoring guidelines will give you valuable information on how points are awarded for the free response questions and what kinds of answers receive more points. These questions can be more subjective than the multiple choice portion of the exam, so doing your homework here will pay off in your final score.

The Chief Reader reports include a wealth of useful information about how students answered past free-response questions and where they went wrong. Learning from other students’ past mistakes can help you not repeat those same mistakes.

The 2019 AP® Psychology Chief Reader Report stated that many students had memorized terms and definitions but could not apply them to real-world scenarios. Using past questions, students should practice delving beyond simple definitions and work toward applying the information to the stated scenarios.

If you want to know which questions students struggled with the most on past exams, you can find that information on the scoring reports. These reports will tell you the mean score of each question on past exams. For example, on the 2019 AP® Psychology exam, students scored a mean of 1.80 points out of a possible 7 on question #1.

If you then look at the Chief Reader report for that question, you will see that to answer the question successfully, you needed to apply psychological concepts to the provided scenario. Knowing this in advance gives you important information on where to focus your efforts as you study for the exam.

Another tool you should use in preparing for the AP® Psychology exam is the sample responses. These reports provide three sample student responses to each past free response question. Each sample response report includes a response that received full marks as well as two that missed some or most of the points. The report includes a detailed explanation of the points awarded for each response.

In the end, it is important to remember that the free response portion of the AP® Psychology exam only accounts for 33.3% of your overall exam grade. The other 66.6% comes from the multiple-choice section, so you will want to make sure you’re prepared for that section as well. You can find hundreds of sample multiple-choice questions at the Albert AP® Psychology website. These questions have been carefully designed to follow the learning objectives of the AP® Psychology course.

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Who should take AP® Psychology? What sort of students may like it more than others?

AP® Psychology is a course that can be a good choice for many students. The subject matter is easily accessible and relatable for many students. If you are interested in how the human brain works and can memorize terms and concepts, AP® Psychology would be a good choice for you. You can find more information about AP® Psychology in the course overview.

Of course, no AP® exams are required. If psychology as a subject does not interest you, or if you struggle with memorization, you might want to choose a different AP® course that is more aligned with your skills and academic strengths.

AP® Psychology can also be a good choice for students who want to achieve high scores on all their AP® exams. This exam has a higher-than-average passing rate. In 2023, 59.6% of the students who took this exam passed with a score of 3 or better.

If your goal is to score a 5 on your AP® exams, then AP® Psychology is also a good choice. In 2023, 16.9% of students who took this exam scored a 5. This is one of the higher percentages of perfect scores among all of the AP® exams.

Of course, you should not take an exam just because you have a better chance of scoring a 5 on it. If psychology is not interesting to you, you may struggle to engage with the content, which could hurt your exam score.

As a student, you control which AP® courses you choose to take. We suggest that you reach out to your guidance counselor, parents, and teachers for advice before you make this important decision.

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How do students typically score on AP® Psychology? What’s the score distribution?

Students typically score a three or better on the AP® Psychology exam. In recent years, approximately 60% of the students who took the exam passed it, which is higher than the overall passing rate for all AP® exams. You can find a detailed scoring breakdown below that can provide some useful numbers as a guide. Your individual score, of course, will depend on how well you study and prepare for this exam.

The score breakdown for recent AP® Psychology exams is as follows:

Year% of 5s% of 4s% of 3s% of 2s% of 1sPass Rate %
202316.9%23.2%19.5%12.4%28.0%59.6%
202217.0%22.2%19.1%13.1%28.5%58.3%
202114.1%21.2%18.0%15.2%31.5%53.3%
202022.4%25.4%23.5%9.6%19.1%71.3%
201920.5%25.3%18.7%13.5%22.0%64.5%
201821.2%26.3%18.1%14.5%19.9%65.6%
201719.1%25.1%20.0%14.6%21.2%64.2%

The AP® Psychology exam has seen a higher-than-average passing rate for the last few years. The number of students who score a 4 or higher is nearly 50%, with approximately 20% of test-takers receiving a 5 on this exam. The scores starting with the 2021 exam season were significantly lower than in previous years.

The mean score for the AP® Psychology exam for 2023 was 2.89, based on a total AP® Psychology testing population of 321,329.

Need help preparing for your AP® Psychology exam?

AP® Psychology FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (3)

Albert has hundreds of AP® Psychology practice multiple-choice questions, free-response questions, and full-length practice tests to try out.

Start your AP® Psychology test prep here

AP® Psychology FAQ: Everything You Need to Know for 2024 (2024)
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