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.
2021 AP Test Changes Due to COVID-19
Due to the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, AP tests will now be held over three different sessions between May and June. Your test dates, and whether or not your tests will be online or on paper, will depend on your school. To learn more about how all of this is going to work and get the latest information on test dates, AP online review, and what these changes means for you, be sure to check out our 2021 AP COVID-19 FAQ article.
Official AP Psychology Practice Tests
It's best to use official practice tests when preparing for the AP Psych 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).
Fortunately, there haven't been many major changes to the AP Psychology exam, so even old tests can be valid resources if you know how to use them.
Still, it's important to be aware that the AP Psychology test changed slightly in 2019-2020 (mostly in terms of course units and how the free-response section is scored). You can read more about these changes and the current format in the 2020 Course and Exam Description.
There are four official AP Psych practice tests you can download for free as PDFs:
If you're looking for more free-response practice specifically, you can try working on official free-response questions in isolation. Most of these also have accompanying answer keys and sample responses to help you better understand what the graders are expecting. You can get tons of free-response questions on the College Board website (from 2021 all the way back to 1999).
Additionally, if you want to practice multiple-choice questions without having to take a full practice exam, you can check out the sample questions in the AP Psychology Course Descriptions:
- 2019-20 AP Psych Course Description: Includes 15 multiple-choice questions and two free-response questions, as well as answers
- 2014-15 AP Psych Course Description: Includes 25 multiple-choice questions and two free-response questions, as well as answers
You might be able to find additional official practice tests and questions 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 whether they 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 for your AP Psych prep, but you shouldn't rely on them completely. While they still test roughly the same content as the real exam, their questions might be phrased differently and have a slightly higher or lower difficulty level. Usually, the ones you must pay for will be higher quality than free unofficial ones, so keep this in mind.
It's a good idea to intersperse official practice tests with these unofficial ones in your prep.
Shmoop offers one AP Psychology diagnostic test and three full-length practice exams that mimic the content and format of the real test (free-response section included). You have to pay for an account eventually. The rate for a student account is $14.99 a month.
This is just one AP Psychology practice test, but it includes automatic scoring and analyzes your mistakes for you. The exam is also timed, so testing conditions are replicated relatively accurately (minus the fact that it's on the computer). The cost is $5.95.
This well-known test-prep company offers tons of free full-length AP Psychology exams (minus the free-response section). While they're not the highest quality out there, these are good to use to review some of the material you've learned and to keep drilling important concepts. It's also got several shorter quizzes organized by topic area.
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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 Psychology exam. They're 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 Psych test so that you're not caught off-guard on test day.
Here's some advice on how to use these practice tests in your prep 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 AP Psychology curriculum, such as this one.
Still, the Psychology practice tests in this article might 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.
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Second Semester: AP Test Prep
As you head into your second semester, start thinking about prepping for the AP test with full-length practice exams. You will have learned most of the material by the middle of the second semester, so you'll be able to use AP Psych practice tests to judge your skills more accurately. I'd recommend taking your first full-length 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 Psychology practice test, be sure to treat it seriously so that you can learn from your mistakes. After you finish, 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, then 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 AP Psych exam.
It might be productive to practice free-response questions in isolation between full practice tests if you struggle with this 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 this 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.
4 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 and just get straight to the point.
#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 AP Psychology practice test in your studying so you can compare the difficulty levels and get an accurate reading on your progress.
Some tests are LIARS!
Conclusion: Prepping With AP Psychology Practice Tests
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 definitely 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 Psych test and any in-class tests you take throughout the year.
Looking for more guidance in preparing for this test? Read my complete AP Psychology study guide to get a collection of helpful notes. You should also check out our description of Stockholm Syndrome (complete with examples) here.
Review books can be great study resources for AP Psych as well. 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.