A Complete AP® Psychology Exam Scoring Guide (2024)

A crucial step in preparing for the AP® Psychology exam is to know how it is scored. Knowing the exam's scoring structure can help you organize your study strategy. This also allows you to concentrate your efforts on specific portions of the exam that you feel most confident in and those in which you need more practice.

If you are taking the AP Psych exam soon and are curious about how it is scored, this guide will help you.

How Is the AP Psychology Exam Scored?

The AP Psychology exam consists of two sections1: Section I contains 100 multiple-choice questions (MCQs), and SectionII contains two free-response questions (FRQs). As of 2023, each MCQ was worth 1 point, and each FRQ was scored outof 7 points. The table below explains the 2023 scoring structure for each section and the total composite score youcan achieve on the AP Psychology exam to give you an idea of how the exam is scored:

SectionNo. of QuestionsPointsComposite score
Section I: MCQ100100100
Section II: FRQ21414 * 3.57
Final Composite Score150

As you can see from the table above, the 100 points in the MCQ section aredistributed across 100 questions in Section I. You might wonder whether you are penalized for guessing on theAP Psychology exam. Well, the answer isno! The exam does not penalize you for wrong answers, sonever leave a question blank. If you're unsure of the correct answer, make your best guess. There is still a20% chance of getting the answer right.

In Section II, each question is worth 7points, totaling 14 points for two questions. Your answers must beaccurate and thorough to maximize your chance of getting these 7 points. On the FRQs, you will not be penalizedfor minor spelling and grammatical mistakes. However, you can only earn points if you candetermine the prompt, analyze it, and explain your analysiswith the help of supporting theories, concepts, and research-based evidence wherever applicable. Following theCollege Board®’s scoringcriteria, the total points you earned in the two FRQs are multiplied by 3.57. This will produce your raw scoreout of a possible 50 for the FRQ section.

After both Section I and Section II are graded, their raw scores are added to producethe composite score for your AP Psychology exam. This composite score is converted into an AP scaled score of 1to 5. The maximum composite score on the AP Psych exam is 150, translating into a perfect 5. However, note thatyou do not need to get all the answers perfect to score a 5.

The following section will explain what range of composite scores can be convertedinto a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP scale. Read on.

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A Complete AP® Psychology Exam Scoring Guide (1)

AP Psychology Scoring Table

After your final composite score is calculated from 150 points, it is converted into a number on the AP score scale,ranging from 1 to 5. Remember that the College Board keeps the raw score conversion processconfidential, and youonly see your final scaled AP score on your AP score report.

Because the College Board does not publish the composite score ranges and related scaled scores for the most recentAP exams, we have provided a sample scoring table from a previous exam to give you an idea of the AP Psychology rawscore conversion. This will help you understand how the scoring system might work. Let us look at the table below:

Composite Score RangeAP Score
113 - 1505
93 - 1124
77 - 923
65 - 762
0 - 641

Many students ask, “What percentage is a 5 on the APPsychology exam?” As you can see from thetable above, scoring around 75% on the AP Psych exam at thattime would have translated to getting that coveted 5!

After your AP Psychology exam scores are recorded on the AP scale, they are sent tothe respective colleges you have selected for admission. If you want to learn how to have the College Board sendyour AP scores to your preferred colleges, check out our page on AP ExamScores.

Now that you know how your AP Psychology exam is scored and what scores can get you a3, 4, or 5, we are ready to explore the college grade equivalents for AP scores. Let us find that out in thefollowing table.

AP ScoreCollege Grade EquivalentQualificationProbability of AP credit being applied
5A+ or AExtremely well qualifiedUsually
4A-, B+, or BVery well qualifiedUsually
3B-, C+, or CQualifiedMaybe
2Possibly QualifiedVery rarely
1No recommendationNo

Although each college has its own criteria for granting admission based on AP scores, many colleges follow this standard formula when converting your AP Psychology score to the equivalent college course grade. However, you should always remember that colleges vary in the minimum score required for college credit: a 3, 4, or 5. Therefore, if you want to receive college grades and/or Advanced Placement credit for your AP score, aim for a score of at least 3 - or higher if your desired school requires it.

“A recent survey found that students who scored a 2 on the AP Psychology exam earned significantly higher grades when taking the course in college than non-AP students with the same high school GPA!”

AP Psychology Score Distribution

AP Psychology has consistently been among the most popular AP exams students take each year. In 20232alone, 321,329 students took the exam, with about 60% earning a score of 3 or higher (about 40% of test takers scored a 2or below). AP Psychology’s popularity stems from the fact that it counts toward many different disciplines andmajors. Since psychology is widely used in the sciences, humanities, and finance, its broad application can open upmany career options for you, even if you are unsure about your future career goals. There are numerous otherbenefits to taking the AP Psych exam listed in our AP Psychology ExamGuide. Feel free to check it out!

AP Psychology can be rewarding if you maintain a dedicated study schedule and do yourhomework regularly. In the last four years, many students scored 3, 4, and 5 on the AP Psychology exam, averaging asuccess rate of 60%. Now, let's crunch some numbers below to get an idea about the AP Psychology scoredistributions:

AP ScorePercentage of Students (2020)3Percentage of Students (2021)4Percentage of Students (2022)5Percentage of Students (2023)Average for 4 Years
522.4%14.1%17.0 %16.90%17.6 %
425.4%21.2%22.2 %23.19%22.9 %
323.5%18.0%19.1 %19.51%20.0 %
29.6%15.2%13.1 %12.37%12.5 %
119.1%31.5%28.5 %28.03%26.7 %

As you can see here, scoring high on the Psychology exam has gotten slightly more difficult over the last several years, with more students scoring below 3. AP Psych exam is challenging, but with the right study tools and dedication, you can be a 5-pointer, too. UWorld's AP Psychology practice exams will help you get there!

“Did you know? Only two students got a perfect 5 on the 2022 AP Psychology exam.”

Taking practice tests will allow you to keep track of your progress, master content areas you need help with, and build a solid foundation in the core concepts tested on the exam. When studying for the exam, you can also take quick notes and use our flashcards to review concepts and theories.

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A Complete AP® Psychology Exam Scoring Guide (2)

Scoring pattern for the 2024 AP Psychology exam

Understanding the scoring pattern for the AP Psychology exam can assist you in determining whichsections you are more likely to score high in and which ones may require more attention. Let’s analyze the 2023 APPsychology scoring pattern and learn how the scores were distributed across the multiple-choice and free-responsesections.

For the 2023 pen-and-paper exam, the following trends were noted:

  1. Section I: Multiple-Choice Questions:

    • Students demonstrated the strongest proficiency in Unit 8: Clinical Psychology and Unit 6: Developmental Psychology.
    • The most challenging units for AP Psychology students were Unit 3: Sensation/Perception and Unit 5: Cognitive Psychology.
  2. Section II: Free-Response Questions:

    • Students scored higher on the Research Design (Q2) task than the Concept Application (Q1) task.

AP Psychology Minimum Score Requirement for CollegeCredits

Having explored the scoring pattern and distributions of scores for AP Psychology, we are now readyto look at howyour AP scores impact your college applications. As we mentioned, each institution has its owncriteria for what APscore is needed for credit and/or placement. Some colleges accept an AP score of 3 or higher for course credit,while some demand a 5. Some colleges do not offer you any credit but grant you a placement for your AP score (whichallows you to bypass certain lower-level courses), while others provide both. So, while preparing for your APPsychology exam, knowing the policies of your desired college is essential.

We compiled a list of some of the top institutions around the country and the AP scores theyaccept for admission. The list also includes the courses you can bypass for a specific AP score and whether you earncredits for your score on the AP Psych exam. Let’s find out which AP scores can get you placement and/or collegecredits6 at these schools:

InstitutionAP ScoreAP RecognitionCredit/Placement typeCredits
University of California, Berkeley3 / 4 / 5CreditBreadth requirement2.7 sem / 4 qtr units
Harvard University5CreditTo be decided by the respective dept.4
University of California,
Los Angeles
3CreditUnassigned4 units
4 / 5PSYCH 104 units
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor
4 / 5CreditPsychology 1114
PlacementAny 200 level Psychology course
Princeton UniversityN/AN/AN/AN/A
University of Illinois,
Urbana-Champaign
3 / 4CreditPSYC 13
5PSYC 1004
Yale UniversityN/AN/AN/AN/A
Cornell University4 / 5Credit
+
Placement
PSYCH 11013
University of Wisconsin,
Madison
3Credit
+
Placement
PSYCH X193
4 / 5PSYCH 2023
Columbia UniversityN/AN/AN/AN/A
University of Pennsylvania5PlacementPsychology 0001

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A Complete AP® Psychology Exam Scoring Guide (3)

Frequently Asked Questions

A 4 or 5 is typically considered a good score in AP Psychology that will grant you credit and placement in prestigious schools. However, many schools accept AP Psych scores of 3 or higher, so checking with your future schools of choice is important.

The average AP Psychology score in 2022 was 2.89.

AP Psychology scores are curved to standardize them. This procedure ensures that AP exam results translate into equal college grades.

Understanding the course content and practicing questions daily are the keys to getting a 5 on your AP Psychology exam.Make a study regimen, ensure you understand the concepts and theories, and practice solving various questions. Also, consider taking AP Psychology practice exams.

The 2024 AP Psychology scores are scheduled to be released7 in July for the exams administered in May.

Per the College Board’s score report, only six students earned a perfect 5 in the 2022 AP Psychology exam.

References

A Complete AP® Psychology Exam Scoring Guide (2024)
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