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Taking an AP class can be a daunting task to many. You’ve probably heard horror stories of kids failing miserably and tales of six hours worth of homework. But never fret, I’m here to ensure that you pass at least one of your exams–the AP psychology exam.

1. Check Out Vocabulary

If there’s one thing that you should focus on for the AP Psychology exam, it is vocabulary.  Most of the exam, both the FRQ’s and the multiple choices, revolves around vocabulary. Many of the questions will either ask you the meaning of a word or will ask you to apply the definition of a word to certain situations. How does this study show bias or describe how the circadian rhythm affects this teenager? If you know the vocabulary and know how to apply it, then I can most likely guarantee that you will pass the AP exam.  The best way to ensure that you know the vocabulary is to make notecards for the terms. You can either do this the old fashioned way (by writing on note cards) or making flashcard sets on Quizlet. Whatever floats your boat. The most important thing is that you know your vocab (or at least half of them)!

2. Familiarize Yourself with the Exam by Practicing

One of the most important things to do before going in for an exam is to understand the structure of the exam. How are the questions structured? Are there any topics that the exam repeatedly covers? Is there a method to answering the questions? These are the types of questions you should look to answer before sitting down for the AP exam.

The AP Psychology has two sections, with section one being the multiple choice section. You are given 100 questions with 70 minutes to answer. Section two is the free response portion; you are given 50 minutes to answer 2 questions. One of the best ways to get used to the AP psychology test format is by taking practice tests. If you don’t want to take the tests, at least look at the past free response questions and sample responses. Every year after AP testing, College Board uploads the past free responses. In addition, they also show you how to get the full marks on past free response quizzes. It would be in your best interest to at least look through it (click here for the link). This helps tremendously because it allows you to see the kinds of questions have been asked before and how to answer them. As for practicing the multiple choice section, many of the AP psychology prep books contain numerous practice exams.

3. Buy a Review Book

When I took AP Psychology last year, our teacher did not teach at all. We didn’t take notes or talk about any of the chapters in length. The class period was mostly spent doing homework for other classes and watching movies. I wasn’t even worried about taking the exam (or passing) until about three days before the exam. By that time, the only chapters I had read were the first two. While all my friends and classmates decided to give up and bomb the test , I decided that I had nothing to lose by studying. So three days before the exam, I brought the Barron’s AP Psychology prep book. I tried to make myself a schedule to finish reading the book by the test date, but the procrastinator in me decided I had “other priorities”, like watching Gossip Girl. Nonetheless, I made it through 10 out of the 14 chapters before the exam. The book helped simplify important processes and structures. It also gave helpful acronyms, and condensed the information to essentials. 

On the test day, I was surprised by how easy the exam was. I was even more surprised when I checked my score in July and saw that I had received a 4. I attribute my passing score to the Barron’s book (though I’m sure that watching 14 seasons of Law and Order SVU also helped). Now I’m not saying to wait until three or two days before the exam to buy one, but if you had a Psychology class like mines, then a prep book will really help. If you study it little by little, or read it as a supplement when you are done with a chapter in class, it can help clarify things. It also helps you review chapters that you covered in the beginning of the year. Instead of having to re-read a 50-70 page chapter, you can quickly review it in the prep books. If you can’t afford a prep book, most libraries have copies that they let students borrow.

If you follow all these tips, then you are sure to pass the test with flying colours!

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