AP Psychology Multiple Choice Strategies

The AP Psychology exam can be challenging, but with the right strategic mindset, you can get yourself on track for earning the 3, 4, or 5 that you need to qualify for college credit or advanced placement. Below are strategies to aid you on the multiple choice section of the exam.

AP Psychology Terminology

AP Psychology multiple-choice questions tend to be pretty straightforward in what they ask. Usually, they revolve around particular key terms, including major theories and concepts, historical experiments and studies, and noteworthy psychologists and thinkers. The vast majority of questions will either ask you to (1) identify one of these terms based on a description or (2) give you the term and ask you to define or apply it. Thus, the number-one tip for succeeding on the multiple-choice section is this: Know your terminology! Free-response questions (as you’ll see below) also heavily rely on knowledge of terminology, so learning these terms and practicing with them by answering sample questions is hands-down the best way to prepare for the AP Psychology exam.

When studying terminology, it’s crucial to learn both the definitions of terms and the connections they have to other terms. For example, for specific theoretical approaches, you should know what theories and concepts they include, as well as which psychologists belong to each approach. For specific psychologists, you should know what theories or concepts they are responsible for, as well as any major experiments they may have conducted. Organizing the information in your mind in a more interconnected way will make it easier to recall when you take the exam.

Pacing on the AP Psychology Exam

The questions on the AP Psychology exam are numbered, but that doesn’t mean you have to answer them in the order presented. Keep in mind that with 70 minutes to answer 100 questions, you only have 42 seconds on average to answer each question. So if you spend minutes puzzling over a tough question, you lose time that you might spend more effectively answering other questions. Every question, regardless of how hard or easy it seems, is worth the same amount. That means you should feel free to answer the questions in an order that plays to your strengths and minimizes your weaknesses. Always be willing to skip over a tough question and come back to it later.

Answer Every Question
There’s no penalty for wrong answers on the multiple-choice section, so make sure you answer every question. It can’t hurt and might help your score! Save yourself a little time at the end to fill in guesses on any question you skipped over or didn’t have time to reach. If you finish early, you can go back to spend some extra time on any questions you skipped.

Process of Elimination and Educated Guessing

A blind guess in AP Psychology gives you a 1-in-5 (20%) chance of getting the correct answer. But every wrong answer you can confidently eliminate increases those odds: eliminate one and you’re at 25%, two and you’re at 33%, three and you’re at 50%. And if you eliminate all four incorrect answers, you just got the question right! So, whenever the correct answer isn’t immediately clear, start eliminating and see where it gets you.

Next, let’s take a look at some AP Psychology free response strategies!