What Is AP Psychology?

How to Enroll and Topics Covered

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Advanced Placement Psychology, or AP Psychology, is a course offered by the College Board that allows high school students to earn college credits for an introductory level psychology course. However, it is important for students to realize that simply taking the course does not lead to earning these credits. In order to receive credits, students must pass the AP Psychology exam with a score of 3 or better.

It's also important to note that the scores accepted by different college and universities may vary.

Who Should Take AP Psychology?

AP Psychology is a good choice for students who are interested in obtaining college credits while in high school. Introductory psychology classes are often part of the core class requirements at many colleges and universities, so taking AP Psychology is a great way to get a jump start on your college education.

Students who are interested in majoring in psychology or another social science can also benefit from taking the course. At many high schools, the AP Psychology course is the only psychology class offered, so it is a good way for high school students to gain an introduction to the subject.

AP Psychology courses are taught at the college level, so students should be prepared to work hard in order to learn the information and fulfill the requirements.

How to Enroll in AP Psychology

In order to enroll in the AP Psychology course, you will need to check with your high school to learn about specific requirements.

Some schools require students to have completed prerequisites, while others allow any student to enroll.

Who Teaches AP Psychology?

The College Board states that "highly qualified high school teachers" teach AP classes and use the course descriptions as guides. Teachers are given the opportunity to present the material in their own way.

What Topics Are Covered in AP Psychology?

Some of the topics covered in the AP Psychology course and exam include:

  • Research methods
  • History and approaches
  • Biological bases of behavior
  • Sensation and perception
  • States of consciousness
  • Developmental psychology
  • Motivation and emotion
  • Testing and individual differences
  • Abnormal behavior
  • Treatment of abnormal behavior
  • Personality
  • Social psychology
  • Cognition
  • Learning

The AP Psychology Exam

Remember, simply taking the AP Psychology course is not enough to earn college credit; students must also pass the AP Psychology exam. The test itself consists of 100 multiple-choice questions, which count for 66.6% of your score, and two free-response questions, which count for 33.3% of your score. You have 70 minutes to complete the multiple-choice section and 50 minutes for the free-response questions. You can find sample tests on the College Board website.

Other Available AP Classes

With more than 30 other AP classes available, high school students can earn college credits in the following subjects:

  • AP Art History
  • AP Music Theory
  • AP Studio Art 2-D Design
  • AP Studio Art 3-D Design
  • AP Studio Art Drawing
  • AP English Language & Composition
  • AP English Literature & Composition
  • AP Comparative Government & Politics
  • AP European History
  • AP Human Geography
  • AP Macroeconomics
  • AP Microeconomics
  • AP United States Government & Politics
  • AP United States History
  • AP World History
  • AP Calculus 
  • AP Computer Science A
  • AP Computer Science Principles
  • AP Statistics
  • AP Biology
  • AP Chemistry
  • AP Environmental Science
  • AP Physics
  • AP Physics C: Electricity and Magnetism
  • AP Physics C: Mechanics
  • AP Chinese Language and Culture
  • AP French Language and Culture
  • AP German Language and Culture
  • AP Italian Language and Culture
  • AP Japanese Language and Culture
  • AP Latin
  • AP Spanish Language and Culture


College Board AP. "Psychology Course Description." (2014)

College Board: AP Central. "Course Descriptions." (2016)

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