Introduction: The Five-Step Program

5 Steps to a 5: AP Psychology - McGraw Hill 2021

Introduction: The Five-Step Program

The Basics

Learning, thinking, solving problems, and remembering are all psychological processes. To earn the highest score of 5 on the AP Psychology exam, you’ll need to do them successfully! While the content sections of this book will help you understand concepts involved in learning and cognition, following the 5-step program will help you apply these concepts to maximize your success on the May exam.

Introducing the Five-Step Preparation Program

This book is organized as a 5-step program to prepare you to succeed on the exam. These steps are designed to provide you with vital skills and strategies and the practice that can lead you to that perfect 5. Here are the 5 steps.

Step 1: Set Up Your Study Program

In this step, you’ll read a brief overview of the AP Psychology exam, including an outline of topics and the approximate percentage of the exam that will test knowledge of each topic. You will also follow a process to help determine which of the following preparation programs is right for you:

• Full school year: September through May.

• One semester: January through May.

• Six weeks: Basic training for the exam.

Step 2: Determine Your Test Readiness

In this step, you’ll take a diagnostic multiple-choice exam in psychology. This pretest should give you an idea of how prepared you are to take the real exam before beginning to study for the actual AP Psychology Exam.

• Go through the diagnostic exam step by step and question by question to build your confidence level.

• Review the correct answers and explanations so that you see what you do and do not yet fully understand.

Step 3: Develop Strategies for Success

In this step, you’ll learn strategies that will help you do your best on the exam. These strategies cover both the multiple-choice and free-response sections of the exam. Since serving on the College Board committee to design the first course of study and examinations for Advanced Placement Psychology, I have worked with many students and teachers who have helped me gain insight into how they think and study. Tasks that lull you into a false sense of security with shortcuts that may not work are NOT here.

• Learn to read multiple-choice questions.

• Learn how to answer multiple-choice questions.

• Learn how to plan and write the free-response questions.

Step 4: Review the Knowledge You Need to Score High

In this step, you’ll learn or review the material you need to know for the test. This review section takes up the bulk of this book. It contains the following:

• A comprehensive review of introductory psychology.

Psychologists and educators do not agree on exactly what students should know after completing an introductory course in psychology, so no book can correctly forecast what concepts you need to know to get 100 percent of the questions on the AP exam right. But I can safely guarantee that this book includes the information that will enable you to earn a 5! The substantial knowledge you gain from studying it will significantly increase your chances of scoring well.

Step 5: Build Your Test-Taking Confidence

In this step, you’ll complete your preparation by testing yourself on practice exams. I have provided you with two complete exams in psychology and scoring guides for them. Although these practice exams are notreproduced questions from actual AP Psychology exams, they mirror both the material tested by AP and the way in which it is tested.

Finally, at the back of this book you’ll find additional resources to aid your preparation. These include the following:

• A brief bibliography.

• A list of websites related to the AP Psychology exam.

• A glossary of terms related to the AP Psychology exam.

Introduction to the Graphics Used in This Book

To emphasize particular skills and strategies, we use several icons throughout this book. An icon in the margin will alert you that you should pay particular attention to the accompanying text. We use these three icons:


This icon points out a very important concept or fact that you should not pass over.


This icon calls your attention to a strategy that you may want to try.


This icon indicates a tip that you might find useful.

Boldfaced words indicate terms that are included in the glossary at the end of this book. Throughout the book you will also find marginal notes, boxes, and starred areas. Pay close attention to these areas because they can provide tips, hints, strategies, and further explanations to help you reach your full potential.