Practice tests are some of the best review tools for AP Psychology. They'll give you insight into your areas of weakness and prepare you for the structure and content of the real test. In this article, I’ll list all the official and unofficial practice tests available online and provide advice on how to use them to get a great score on the AP test.
Official AP Psychology Practice Tests
It’s best to use official practice tests when preparing for the exam because you can be sure that the questions are faithful representations of what to expect on test day. There’s a limited supply of released official exams, but you should be able to get enough practice out of them (and you can still supplement with some unofficial tests if necessary, which I’ll discuss in the next section).
These two tests are pretty old, but there haven’t been any major changes to the exam since they were administered. They’re still valid as practice resources:
If you’re looking for a bit of extra free-response practice, you can try working on official free-response questions in isolation. Most of them also have accompanying answer keys to help you better understand what the graders are expecting:
Official Free-Response Questions 2002-2016 (accessible with College Board account)
Those are the only official practice tests I can legally link to, but you may be able to find additional tests online from other sources. Your teacher will also have access to practice testing materials that are not available to the general public. If you’re looking for more official AP tests, talk to your teacher and see if he or she can provide you with any extra resources.
You must wear a nice blazer with a button up shirt when taking official AP practice tests. That's how the test knows that you're also official. If you wear sweatpants, it won't trust you with its secrets.
Unofficial AP Psychology Practice Exams
Unofficial practice tests can also be useful, although you shouldn’t rely on them completely. They’ll still test roughly the same content as the real test, but their questions may be phrased differently and have a slightly higher or lower difficulty level. Be sure to intersperse official practice tests with these unofficial ones in your studying.
This is a free diagnostic test from Barron’s. It has the same format as the real AP test, so there are 100 multiple-choice questions followed by two free-response questions. You can choose to take the test in practice mode (untimed) or timed mode depending on how comfortable you are with the material.
The multiple-choice section is scored for you, and answers to free-response questions are available as well. This means that you won’t have to put in quite as much legwork to see where your mistakes happened. One drawback to the online format is that you can't directly replicate the conditions of the AP test. It will probably take you less time to fill in your answers than it would on a pencil and paper test.
Here you can find practice quizzes that cover all the different topics in the course as well as two comprehensive 100-question practice tests. Again, you can only take the tests online, so you won’t necessarily get as much out of the experience. There also aren’t any free-response questions, so you’ll have to look elsewhere (preferably the College Board website) if you want to practice them.
Shmoop Practice Tests (accessible with free trial)
Shmoop has a diagnostic test and two full-length practice exams that mimic the content and format of the real AP test (free-response section included). You have to pay for an account eventually, but you can start off with a free trial and cancel before the first payment is due if you want. The rate for a student account is $24.68 a month.
REA Online Practice Exam ($4.95)This is just one practice test, but it includes automatic scoring, and it analyzes your mistakes for you. The test is also timed, so testing conditions are replicated relatively accurately (minus the fact that it’s on the computer).
How to Review With AP Psychology Practice Tests
Practice tests can be used throughout the school year and in your final review sessions for the AP test. They are the best way for you to judge how advanced you are in your knowledge of the material. They’ll also help you gain familiarity with the format of the AP test so that you’re not caught off-guard on test day. Here’s some advice on how to use these tests in your studying at different points throughout the year:
First Semester: In-Class Test Prep
At this point, you’re just preparing for in-class tests and haven’t learned all the information for the course yet. You might decide to use practice sites that include focused questions on specific aspects of the curriculum, like this one. Still, the practice tests in this article may be helpful resources. You can sort through the free-response questions that were asked on previous administrations of the test to find ones that are relevant to what you’ve learned so far.
It’s a smart idea to practice free-response questions well ahead of time because they require the most independent knowledge. Most students have a tougher time on this section than on the multiple-choice section because you don't get a list of options that might jog your memory about a certain term or concept. Guessing isn't a viable option, so it's important to prepare thoroughly.
Second Semester: AP Test Prep
As you head into your second semester, start thinking about prepping for the AP test with full practice exams. You will have learned most of the material by the middle of the second semester, so you'll be able to use practice tests to judge your skills more accurately. I'd recommend taking your first full-length practice test sometime in March.
Online tests can be helpful, but make sure you print out some practice tests too. This is the only way to see whether your time management is on point. When you take a practice test, make sure you treat it seriously so that you can learn from your mistakes. After you finish the test, score it and investigate your incorrect answers.
There are several reasons why you might answer a question incorrectly. It could be due to poor time management, a careless mistake, or a lack of content knowledge. If one of the first two problems is the source of many of your mistakes, you probably need to take more practice tests to get used to the format while learning to read more carefully and pace yourself better. If your mistakes have more to do with content knowledge, you can narrow your focus further by categorizing your wrong answers by subject (consult the list of topics in this article). This way, you can primarily study parts of the course that you struggle with and avoid wasting time on concepts you already understand.
Once you’ve identified your mistakes on the practice test and taken steps to correct them, take another test to check your progress. Again, make sure you take this test with the same time limits as the real AP test. After you take the second test, repeat the steps of scoring it and looking through your mistakes. Continue this process until you feel fully prepared for the exam.
It may be productive to practice free-response questions in isolation between full practice tests if you struggle with that section. The more familiar you are with the way free-response questions are asked and what graders expect, the more likely you are to ace the free-response section on the real test in May. These questions will also help reinforce your understanding of psychological terms because they often ask you to apply terms to a hypothetical real-life scenario.
Keep working out your test-taking muscles until your brain looks like this dude.
Essential AP Psychology Practice Testing Tips
In this section, I'll list a few tips that are important to remember while using practice tests to review for AP Psychology.
#1: Always Time Yourself
I said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you want to assess your weak spots accurately, you need to time yourself as though you're taking the real test. You don’t want time pressure to be your downfall after working your butt off to memorize all the content. If you can get a parent, sibling, or friend who doesn’t have anything better to do for two hours to be a mock proctor for you, that’s even better!
#2: Don’t Overthink
It’s especially funny to list this tip for AP Psychology, but it’s also especially relevant to the way the questions are structured. You’ll see quite a few questions that seem complex but are actually just a matter of common sense. Try not to second-guess yourself on these types of questions. The test isn’t trying to trick you!
#3: Be Direct in the Free-Response Section
When some students think about free-response questions, they imagine writing a five paragraph essay. You don't have to do that on this test! All the graders want are the correct answers written in complete sentences. Forget about intros, conclusions, or any other fluffy stuff you’re tempted to include.
#4: Put More Faith in Official Test Scores Than Unofficial Ones
It’s tempting to believe that a high score on an unofficial test is valid, but it can get you into trouble. Keep in mind that some unofficial tests will be easier or harder than the real AP test because the questions weren't designed by the College Board. You should always include at least one official practice test in your studying so you can compare the difficulty levels and get an accurate reading on your progress.
Some tests are LIARS!
Use the practice tests in this article as tools to bolster your prep for AP Psychology. Official tests and unofficial tests are both valuable resources, but pay more attention to your scores on official tests when judging your progress and skill level.
Going over mistakes on practice tests will help you understand where your weaknesses lie and how you can fix them. If you take multiple practice tests, analyze your mistakes, and plan out your studying responsibly, you can expect high scores on the AP test and any in-class tests you take throughout the year.
Are you looking for more guidance in preparing for this test? Read my complete AP Psychology study guide here!
Review books can also be helpful study resources. If you're not sure which one to get, take a look at this list of the best AP Psychology books.
What will a high score on an AP test really mean for you in college? Find out how AP classes can lead to college credits.
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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.