AP Psychology Course Revisions

Learn more about changes to the AP Psychology course for the 2024-25 school year.

See the New Course and Exam Description

Highlights of the Revised AP Psychology Course

  • The course framework features 5 content units instead of 9.
  • Key terms are included in each unit.
  • Argumentation skills are now included in the science practices.
  • Research methods and data interpretation are now part of the science practices.

Five Units

The AP Psychology course framework now features five content units instead of nine:

  1. Biological Bases of Behavior
  2. Cognition
  3. Development and Learning
  4. Social Psychology
  5. Mental and Physical Health

These are based on the APA’s recommended core content domains, or “pillars,” for introductory psychology: Biological, Cognitive, Developmental, Social and Personality, and Mental and Physical Health.

Below are tables comparing the APA pillar topics for introductory psychology and the topics in each unit of the revised AP Psychology course framework.

Unit 1: Biological Bases of Behavior

Biological Pillar Topics

Unit 1 Topics


Interaction of Heredity and Environment

Overview of the Nervous System

The Neuron and Neural Firing

The Brain





Unit 2: Cognition

Cognitive Pillar Topics

Unit 2 Topics




Thinking, Problem-Solving, Judgments, and Decision-Making


Introduction to Memory

Encoding Memories

Storing Memories

Retrieving Memories

Forgetting and Other Memory Challenges


Intelligence and Achievement

Unit 3: Development and Learning

Developmental Pillar Topics

Unit 3 Topics

Lifespan Development

Themes and Methods in Developmental Psychology

Physical Development Across the Lifespan

Gender and Sexual Orientation

Cognitive Development Across the Lifespan

Social-Emotional Development Across the Lifespan


Classical Conditioning

Operant Conditioning

Social, Cognitive, and Neurological Factors in Learning


Communication and Language

Unit 4: Social Psychology

Social and Personality Pillar Topics

Unit 4 Topics


Attribution Theory and Person Perception

Attitude Formation and Attitude Change

Psychology of Social Situations


Psychoanalytic and Humanistic Theories of Personality

Social-Cognitive and Trait Theories of Personality





Unit 5: Mental and Physical Health

Mental and Physical Health Pillar Topics

Unit 5 Topics


Introduction to Health Psychology

Positive Psychology


Explaining and Classifying Psychological Disorders

Selection of Categories of Psychological Disorders


Treatment of Psychological Disorders

Key Terms

Each unit now includes key terms to better focus the scope of the course for teachers and students.

Recent studies have examined how many key terms are found in introductory psychology texts, finding that the top five most popular textbooks covered almost 4000 terms, with only 154 common to all five (Slade and Gurung, 2022). The sheer volume of terminology poses a logistical challenge for teachers preparing students for an AP Psychology Exam that could address so many different key terms. 

We researched the most-commonly taught concepts in introductory psychology and focused the scope of the course to about 750 key terms.

Focusing on the key terms presented in the course and exam description (CED) allows for more instruction on content and skills needed to be successful in subsequent courses in psychology in college.

Science Practices

AP Psychology’s skill categories are now called science practices.

In keeping with AP Psychology’s new dual designation as both a science and a social science, its four science practices align with the other AP sciences: 

  1. Content Application
  2. Research Methods and Design
  3. Data Interpretation 
  4. Argumentation

A New Practice: Argumentation

Argumentation skills are now included in the science practices.

The revised AP Psychology CED adds the new science practice of Argumentation alongside the science practices of Concept Application, Research Methods and Design, and Data Interpretation.

This practice has long been a feature of other AP science courses, and aspects of argumentation are recommended by the APA for introductory psychology students. This new practice in AP Psychology enables students to demonstrate the ability to propose defensible claims about behavior and mental processes and use scientifically derived evidence to support or refute those claims.

After taking AP Psychology, students should be able to read or hear about psychological research and know whether the claims made are supported by the data.

Research Methods and Data Interpretation

Research methods and data interpretation are now part of the science practices.

The APA recommends that research methods be taught throughout an introductory psychology course. The revised AP Psychology course has incorporated the first unit of the current course (Scientific Foundations of Psychology) into the science practices of Research Methods and Design and Data Interpretation so that teachers can integrate methods into all five content units.

Learn More

View the updated course framework in the AP Psychology Course and Exam Description, Effective Fall 2024 (.pdf).


How do the key terms in the revised framework give teachers more clarity for lesson planning?

  • The revised framework includes specific terminology in the Essential Knowledge statements, making the revised framework more focused than the current one. 
  • The revised course framework provides greater clarity for teachers and students about what concepts are considered “in scope” for the AP Psychology Exam.
  • AP subject matter experts spent considerable time researching which terminology to include that would prepare students to be successful in sequent courses in psychology. Additionally, since approximately 25% of AP Psychology courses are taught on a semester, rather than a yearlong, schedule, the development committee considered how many terms would be appropriate given the amount of time teachers have to teach the course. 
  • The terminology included—about 750 key terms—reflects the balance between representing an introduction to the broad field of psychology and the amount of time needed for reasonable depth and breadth of instruction.

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How does the revised framework handle the teaching of gender and sexual orientation?

Gender and sexuality have been included in AP Psychology since the course was introduced. The revised AP Psychology course framework does not change how the teaching of gender and sexual orientation is addressed.

The learning objective for gender and sexual orientation remains the same as in the 2019 AP Psychology Course and Exam Description, with identical wording: “Describe how sex and gender influence socialization and other aspects of development.” 

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How does the revised framework handle issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion?

Psychologists routinely examine the role of diversity, equity, and inclusion in daily life. The course framework presents these scientifically supported topics throughout the course where relevant in developmentally appropriate ways. For example, the topic on attitude formation includes a learning objective about understanding stereotypes and implicit attitudes, and how they might contribute to prejudice.

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Will AP Psychology teachers need to resubmit in the AP Course Audit?

Yes. All new and returning AP Psychology teachers will need to complete an AP Course Audit form attestation in 2024-25. They can select one of these three submission options: 

  • Adopt a sample syllabus or unit guide 
  • Claim an identical syllabus to a colleague who has been authorized for the 2024-25 school year
  • Submit a new or revised course document

For teachers selecting the third option: The original course document should only outline how the course fulfills the curricular requirements and does not need to be the full syllabus used in the classroom. Teachers should not submit syllabi that include classroom management policies. 

Information about AP Course Audit requirements, updated sample syllabi, and an updated syllabus development guide are available on the AP Psychology Course Audit page on this site.

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Will the textbooks we currently use for AP Psychology work with the revised course?

Yes. Current textbooks adequately address the material needed for the revised course. 

Textbook requirements have not changed: students should have access to a college-level introductory psychology textbook that has been published in the last 10 years. 

We’ve informed publishers of the changes. They’re working to update their materials to align with the revised course so that schools wishing to purchase textbooks aligned to the changes can do so.

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Will there be new AP Classroom resources for the revised course and exam?

Yes. AP Classroom resources will be updated for the 2024-25 school year, including AP Daily videos, progress checks, topic questions, and an updated question bank. 

Most resources will be available on July 1, 2024, when AP Classroom updates to the next school year. Additional resources will be released on a rolling basis throughout the school year. 

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What will happen to the questions and quizzes that teachers created in AP Classroom?

Questions and quizzes authored by teachers will stay in AP Classroom. We’ll contact teachers in the coming months with more information about how to retag their questions and quizzes to the new framework.

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