Note-taking can get disorganized even for the most conscientious among us. It's hard to sort through a whole year's worth of material, especially in an AP class that covers a wide range of topics and theories. This article is intended to serve as a one-stop-shop for comprehensive notes on all the topics covered in AP Psychology. Whether you lost your class notes on Cognition or just want an easier way to see everything in one place, the links in this article will help make your study process more focused and less stressful.
How to Use These AP Psychology Notes
You can use these notes as study aids for in-class tests or to review for the final exam. Supplement them with resources you’ve gotten from your teacher in class and other notes you’ve taken throughout the year. If you know that there’s an especially great explanation of a certain concept in your textbook, use that to help you review as well. You might also consider buying a review book if you're looking for more guidance in planning out your studying (see my article on the best AP Psychology books).
If you're studying for the AP test as a whole, take a diagnostic practice test before diving into these notes. That way you can see where you're making the most mistakes and focus your studying on the appropriate areas. Taking practice tests at regular intervals throughout the study process will give you a better idea of whether or not you’re absorbing the material.
Real-time practice tests will also help you get used to managing your time effectively so that you’re prepared for the way the final exam is structured. You’ll be answering 100 multiple-choice questions in 70 minutes, so appropriate pacing is critical! In the next section, I’ll go through a list of all the topics that are covered in AP Psychology and provide links to online notes for all of them.
Don't forget to time your practice tests! And if you use a weird watch like this one, make sure you know how to divide by five.
AP Psychology Notes
These are the most easy-to-follow online notes I could find for the material covered in AP Psychology. For each topic area, I’ve included the percentage of final exam questions that pertain to the subject and two links, one to regular notes and one to a PowerPoint presentation that shows the information in a slightly different form.
The WikiNotes links are more detailed, so you should go over them first. The PowerPoint notes provide more of a brief overview of concepts and can serve as a quick review tool. It’s likely that your course will be structured roughly in the same order as the topics presented here, so it should be easy to find the information you need to study for in-class tests throughout the year.
History and Approaches (2-4% of exam)
Research Methods (8-10% of exam)
Biological Bases of Behavior (8-10% of exam)
Sensation and Perception (6-8% of exam)
States of Consciousness (2-4% of exam)
Learning (7-9% of exam)
Cognition (8-10% of exam)
Motivation and Emotion (6-8% of exam)
Developmental Psychology (7-9% of exam)
Personality (5-7% of exam)
Testing and Individual Differences (5-7% of exam)
Abnormal Psychology (7-9% of exam)
Treatment of Psychological Disorders (5-7% of exam)
Social Psychology (8-10% of exam)
Overall Review Sheets
Printing out the notes instead of reading them on your computer is also an option. If you think you'll need to highlight important points, it's probably a good idea!
AP Psychology Study Strategies
Learning all of this information might be tough if you don't have a game plan. Here are some tips for getting the most out of your time.
Tip #1: Flashcards Are Your Friends
To succeed in AP Psychology, you must have excellent recall of a large library of terms. Some of these are constants of human behavior that you didn’t know had official names, and others are more obscure terms for the biological components of psychological responses. It’s critical to be fluent in the terminology surrounding every concept if you want to end up with a high score. You should also know the names of prominent psychologists and understand their contributions to the field.
Quizzing yourself with flashcards is the best way to ensure that you’re prepared. I’d recommend Quizlet as a starting point (after you read through the notes and refresh your memory) because it offers many sets of online flashcards that you can use for practice. Of course, you can always write out your own physical flashcards if you prefer to do things the old fashioned way! This may be more effective because writing down definitions helps to reinforce your memory.
Tip #2: Relate Psych Concepts to Everyday Life
The concepts in this course will show up in your everyday life when you make decisions, interact socially, get stressed about schoolwork (meta), or really do anything. As you read the notes, try to think of personal examples that relate to what you’re learning. Besides helping you memorize the material, this can give you some interesting insight into why you’ve made certain decisions in your life (or why other people you know may have made certain decisions). Even outside of your active study time, if you notice a particular behavior, try to relate it to something you’ve learned. You probably won’t forget a term or concept if you anchor it to a real experience.
Tip #3: Give Yourself Regular Checkups
Don’t go over a section of notes once, quiz yourself, and then decide that you’re done with it forever. Every few topic areas, circle back and do a holistic review of everything you’ve learned so far. Make a point of constantly refreshing your memory so that nothing gets lost in the shuffle. You can use the complete review sheets I’ve linked at the end of the notes section as resources for these review sessions.
With an aggressive treatment plan, you can hope to recover from your ignorance.
Conclusion: Getting the Most Out of AP Psych Notes
These notes and strategies should help you get started on your AP Psychology review. You can even use the notes on a unit-by-unit basis if you're just studying for a short quiz or test. Remember to take practice tests to keep yourself on track, and continue consulting any resources you've accumulated throughout the year in class.
I'd recommend that you also take advantage of the information in my other AP Psychology posts (links are in the first section of this article) to get more advice on how to structure your studying and ensure a high score on the final exam!
Are you concerned about the AP Psychology test? Read this article to decide whether it will be especially challenging for you.
It's not easy to decide which AP classes to take in high school. Depending on how many options you have, you could structure your schedule in vastly different ways. Check out this guide to learn how many AP classes you should take in high school based on your goals and circumstances.
If you want to avoid overwhelming yourself with a ridiculous schedule, it's also a good idea to be aware of which AP classes test the most challenging material. Read our article on the hardest AP classes here.
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Samantha is a blog content writer for PrepScholar. Her goal is to help students adopt a less stressful view of standardized testing and other academic challenges through her articles. Samantha is also passionate about art and graduated with honors from Dartmouth College as a Studio Art major in 2014. In high school, she earned a 2400 on the SAT, 5's on all seven of her AP tests, and was named a National Merit Scholar.