AP Psychology

1.5 Credits
2 Segments / 32-36 weeks

AP Psychology is a college-level course providing students an overview of the development of human behaviors and thoughts. Along with preparation for the AP Psychology exam, the goals of this course are to immerse students in modern psychological investigation techniques, to accentuate the ethics and morality of human and animal research, and to emphasize scientific critical thinking skills in application to the social sciences. Psychology is a diverse social and biological science with multiple perspectives and interpretations.

The primary emphasis of this course is to help students develop an understanding of concepts rather than memorize terms and technical details; the ultimate goal is to prepare students to successfully take the AP Psychology examination offered in May.

Note: content varies depending on course version. For currently enrolled students, please refer to the syllabus located in the course information area for curriculum specifics.


Scientific Foundations of Psychology

Students will demonstrate an understanding of the scientific foundations of psychology by explaining the research and experimental methods in psychology, explaining the purpose of statistical analysis through descriptive statistics and inferential statistics, and describing ethical guidelines of psychology.

Biological Bases of Psychology

Students will demonstrate an understanding of biological bases of psychology by explaining the connection between psychology and neurology, analyzing the effects of human body systems on the biological bases of behavior, explaining examinations of the brain, and evaluating the importance of the sleep cycle.

Sensation and Perception

Students will demonstrate an understanding of sensation and perception by explaining principles related to sensation and perception, and explaining visual, auditory, and other senses associated with sensation and perception.

Cognitive Psychology

Students will demonstrate an understanding of cognitive psychology by explaining the way humans process memories, explaining forgetting and the biological bases of memory, explaining cognition processes for thinking and problem solving, explaining components of language and language acquisition, and explaining differences in intelligence.


Students will demonstrate an understanding of learning by explaining classical conditioning, explaining operant conditioning, and describing social and cognitive factors in learning.

Developmental Psychology

Students will demonstrate an understanding of developmental psychology by explaining human development, explaining physical development, explaining cognitive development, explaining social development, and explaining moral development.

Motivation, Emotion and Personality

Students will demonstrate an understanding of motivation, emotion, and personality by explaining theories in motivation, explaining topics in motivation, explaining theories of emotion, explaining stress and coping, and explaining theories of personality.

Clinical Psychology

Students will demonstrate an understanding of clinical psychology by analyzing the history and etiology of disorders, explaining forms of disordered behaviors, and evaluating treatments and therapeutic strategies.

Social Psychology

Students will demonstrate an understanding of social psychology by explaining social thinking, describing social influence, and analyzing social relations.

Major Topics and Concepts


Segment One

  • Major historical figures in psychology
  • Biological bases of behavior
  • Sensation and perception
  • Types of learning: classical conditioning, operant conditioning and observational learning
  • Memory
  • Compare and contrast theories of emotion
  • Nature vs. nurture
  • Intelligence and testing intelligence
  • Major contributors to the different fields of psychology

Segment Two

  • Memory
  • Compare and contrast motivational theories
  • Compare and contrast theories of emotion
  • Developmental psychology
  • Nature vs. nurture
  • Compare and contrast theories of personality
  • Intelligence and testing intelligence
  • Abnormal behavior/Psychological disorders
  • Major contributors to the different fields of psychology




Course Materials

AP Course & Exam Registration Requirements

College Board requires students to register for AP exams no later than November 13th (individual schools may set earlier deadlines).

All VLACS AP students are required to enroll in the “course only” section in My AP.  Instructions for joining My AP will be posted on each VLACS course page and instructors are available to help with this process.

Students who plan to take the corresponding AP exam must arrange to take the exam at a local school that administers it. To register for an AP Exam, the local school will enroll the student in an “exam only” section in My AP.  Students should follow these steps:

  • Search for a local test site through this resource of contact AP Services for Students at 888-225-5427 [email protected]. That office can give you contact information for local AP coordinators who may be willing to test outside students. Students are then responsible for contacting coordinators on that list to see if one can arrange to test for you. You should do this no later than October 2nd. Note that schools may have their own local deadlines for receiving requests from outside students to test at their school so we recommend doing this as soon as possible
  • The AP coordinator who agrees to assist you must provide a join code for an “exam only” section in My AP. You’ll use the join code to join the section so that the AP coordinator can order your exam.

Please note that, if a school allows a student to register after the 11/13 deadline, there will be a $40 late exam fee. There will also be a $40 canceled/unused exam fee if a student registers and then cancels his/her exam or if the student does not show up on test day.

More information is available on the College Board’s website: https://apstudents.collegeboard.org/

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