AP® Psychology Scoring Guide

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 Section II contains two free-response questions (FRQs). As of 2023, each MCQ was worth 1 point, and each FRQ was scored out of 7 points. The table below explains the 2023 scoring structure for each section and the total composite score you can achieve on the AP Psychology exam to give you an idea of how the exam is scored:

Section No. of Questions Points Composite score
Section I: MCQ 100 100 100
Section II: FRQ 2 14 14 * 3.57
Final Composite Score 150

As you can see from the table above, the 100 points in the MCQ section are distributed across 100 questions in Section I. You might wonder whether you are penalized for guessing on the AP Psychology exam. Well, the answer is no! The exam does not penalize you for wrong answers, so never leave a question blank. If you're unsure of the correct answer, make your best guess. There is still a 20% chance of getting the answer right.

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

After both Section I and Section II are graded, their raw scores are added to produce the composite score for your AP Psychology exam. This composite score is converted into an AP scaled score of 1 to 5. The maximum composite score on the AP Psych exam is 150, translating into a perfect 5. However, note that you 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 converted into a 3, 4, or 5 on the AP scale. Read on.

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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 process confidential, and you only 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 recent AP exams, we have provided a sample scoring table from a previous exam to give you an idea of the AP Psychology raw score conversion. This will help you understand how the scoring system might work. Let us look at the table below:

Composite Score Range AP Score
113 - 150 5
93 - 112 4
77 - 92 3
65 - 76 2
0 - 64 1

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

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

Now that you know how your AP Psychology exam is scored and what scores can get you a 3, 4, or 5, we are ready to explore the college grade equivalents for AP scores. Let us find that out in the following table.

AP Score College Grade Equivalent Qualification Probability of AP credit being applied
5 A+ or A Extremely well qualified Usually
4 A-, B+, or B Very well qualified Usually
3 B-, C+, or C Qualified Maybe
2 —  Possibly Qualified Very rarely
1 —  No recommendation No

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 20232 alone, 321,329 students took the exam, with about 60% earning a score of 3 or higher (about 40% of test takers scored a 2 or below). AP Psychology’s popularity stems from the fact that it counts toward many different disciplines and majors. Since psychology is widely used in the sciences, humanities, and finance, its broad application can open up many career options for you, even if you are unsure about your future career goals. There are numerous other benefits to taking the AP Psych exam listed in our AP Psychology Exam Guide. Feel free to check it out!

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

AP Score Percentage of Students (2020)3 Percentage of Students (2021)4 Percentage of Students (2022)5 Percentage of Students (2023) Average for 4 Years
5 22.4% 14.1% 17.0 % 16.90% 17.6 %
4 25.4% 21.2% 22.2 % 23.19% 22.9 %
3 23.5% 18.0% 19.1 % 19.51% 20.0 %
2 9.6% 15.2% 13.1 % 12.37% 12.5 %
1 19.1% 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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Scoring pattern for the 2024 AP Psychology exam

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

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 College Credits

Having explored the scoring pattern and distributions of scores for AP Psychology, we are now ready to look at how your AP scores impact your college applications. As we mentioned, each institution has its own criteria for what AP score 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 (which allows you to bypass certain lower-level courses), while others provide both. So, while preparing for your AP Psychology 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 they accept for admission. The list also includes the courses you can bypass for a specific AP score and whether you earn credits for your score on the AP Psych exam. Let’s find out which AP scores can get you placement and/or college credits6 at these schools:

Institution AP Score  AP Recognition Credit/Placement type Credits
University of California, Berkeley 3 / 4 / 5 Credit Breadth requirement 2.7 sem / 4 qtr units
Harvard University 5 Credit To be decided by the respective dept.  4
University of California,
Los Angeles
3 Credit Unassigned 4 units
4 / 5 PSYCH 10 4 units
University of Michigan,
Ann Arbor
4 / 5 Credit Psychology 111 4
Placement Any 200 level Psychology course
Princeton University N/A N/A N/A N/A
University of Illinois,
3 / 4 Credit PSYC 1 3
5 PSYC 100 4
Yale University N/A N/A N/A N/A
Cornell University 4 / 5 Credit
PSYCH 1101 3
University of Wisconsin,
3 Credit
4 / 5 PSYCH 202 3
Columbia University N/A N/A N/A N/A
University of Pennsylvania 5 Placement Psychology 0001
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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.


Read More About the AP Psychology

Considering taking AP Psychology? Get all the essential information you need about the AP Psychology exam here in this guide, including the important exam-related FAQs.
Do you want to know what the AP Psychology exam format looks like? Visit this page to learn about the exam format, question types, section weighting, and more!
Reviewing the entire ‘College Board CED-pdf’ can be time-consuming. We’ve got you covered—we edited the lengthy 189 pages into an easy-to-navigate document for the AP Psychology Course.
Don’t waste any more time looking for the perfect guide. Here’s the expert-written guide on how to study for AP Psychology with proven strategies and materials to help you score 5 with ease.
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