How to Cram for a Test Without Going Crazy

Do you have a test coming up you should have been studying for weeks ago? Don’t worry; you’re not alone, and all hope is not lost. In fact, there are a ton of effective methods you can use to learn all the material you need for your test: even if you’re a little late to the game. If you’re ready to learn how to cram for a test the right way and achieve the results you need to succeed, keep reading! Below, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide on the how, why, and where to study for your next test.

Where to Cram

Woman cramming for her test at the library

Image via Pexels

If you want to learn how to cram for a test, you must start with the basics. No, we’re not talking about the material you’re learning; we’re talking about the environment you’re in. If you need to cram for a test, do it in a space that isn’t crowded or messy. If you try to study in a place that’s unorganized, it can make you lose focus and the much-needed motivation to succeed. We already know what you’re thinking; if you’re worried about spending more time cleaning than studying, that’s a sign you need to change your environment completely.

The library is a great place to cram because it’s quiet and orderly—two qualities of an ideal environment for learning and retaining information. Avoid as many distractions as you can, and if that means getting out of the house, do it! Some of our other favorite places to cram include the following:

  • Coffee shops

  • Bookstores

  • Parks

  • A friend’s house

How to Cram for a Test

Now that you know where to cram, you can finally learn how to cram for a test the right way. There are a lot of tips out there, but we’ve selected the method that actually works. Follow the steps below to ensure success on your next test or exam!

Step One: Turn Off Distractions

We already stressed the importance of an environment conducive to cramming for a test, but we didn’t talk about what you are using in that environment. If you have your phone with you, we suggest turning it on silent and putting it away. The same goes for your computer or laptop. Close any outside communication applications and remove temptations from your study site. You want to be able to completely focus on the task at hand and not waste valuable study time trying to remember where you left off after you’ve been distracted.

Step Two: Time Yourself

This step may come as a shock to you, but you should set up a timer. When studying, you shouldn’t push yourself past your limit. For most people, the limit will be around the six-hour mark. Our general rule of thumb is to give yourself a break at least once every hour. Each of your breaks should last for at least 10 minutes at a time to ensure you are refreshed and ready to get back into it. If you need some suggestions on what to do on your breaks, we recommend the following:

  • Taking a walk

  • Drinking a glass of water

  • Eating a healthy snack

  • Do some yoga

  • Sing a song or dance to one

  • Play with a pet

  • Deep breathing exercises

  • Meditation

Step Three: Focus, Rewrite, and Highlight

One of the best things you can do when learning how to cram for a test is to re-read everything and highlight the key ideas. After you’ve picked out the key details of the topic, you can focus on rewriting everything into a notebook.

It may seem like an unnecessary task considering you have the information highlighted right there in front of you; however, writing things down is one of the best ways to commit it to memory. Some people will rewrite these key details as many as seven times in a row to ensure retention of the material. Reading each of the sentences out loud as you write them can also be helpful in memorizing the material. Many people find a combination of speaking and writing the key to cramming a lot of information in a little time.

Step Four: Eat Well

You may have heard of the term “brain food.” Well, when you are learning how to cram for a test and put those actions into motion, your brain will need a lot of fuel. When you’re using your brain, your body is also working and can greatly benefit from the nutrients found in healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables. It is also imperative you stay hydrated if you want to retain as much information as you can without getting a dehydration-related headache. Don’t neglect your body; it can be an essential element in helping you succeed on the day of the test.

Step Five: Rest

Regarding your physical health, another important factor is getting an adequate amount of sleep. Sleep is an important aspect of health, and as we learned above, your physical health can make or break your ability to succeed on the day of the test. Go to bed as early as you can and wake up with enough time to have a balanced breakfast. All you can do now is look at our additional tips below and sharpen that number-two pencil!

Additional Cramming Tips

Girl is studying and writing notes for the exam

Image via Pexels

You now have the step-by-step instructions on how to cram for a test. If you’re looking for a little more guidance to get you started, keep reading. Below, you will find a list of additional cramming tips to help you ace your test or exam.

Make Your Own Study Guide

One of the most helpful tips we received from previous graduates was to make your own study guide. Many teachers and professors will provide study guides for the test, and many students spend time on questions they already know the answers to. If you want to get the most out of your cramming session, make your own study guide and highlight the aspects you find most challenging.

If you don’t have a lot of time, you can also use this method to narrow down the topics or ideas you think will be covered on the test. Although you won’t learn all the material this way, it’s a great way to save time and double down on your efforts, especially if you have a lot of material to learn.

Make a Song

Did you know there’s a reason you can remember the lyrics to your favorite song easier than you can the elements on the periodic table? Putting things to music is a learning device that many people find surprisingly effective. If you’re a fan of music, try putting vocabulary words and ideas into your favorite song. You can also use common jingles like Twinkle Twinkle Little Star if you want to keep it easy.

Cram With a Friend

For some people, studying with a friend is the most effective method to cram in a lot of information. If you thrive on competition or the help of another when studying, phone up a friend and ask if they’ll help you cram. Studying with a friend allows you to quiz one another and makes learning that much more interactive and fun which, in the long run, helps you retain the information that much easier. It’s true; learning really can be fun in the right environments and under the right circumstances.

Set a Goal

If you’re having trouble motivating yourself to learn how to cram for a test, set a goal! A ton of people thrive when they set goals for themselves, and you might too! Promise to treat yourself if you reach your goal. The reward can be something as trivial as an ice cream cone. Think of what would motivate you and use that as leverage against yourself to study for one more hour, or two, or even five. Maybe each 10-minute break means one more M&M or a quick round of cards with your roommates. Whatever keeps you going, go for it!

Make Flashcards

Flashcards are considered a traditional studying method for a reason—they work! One side either asks a question or states a vocabulary term, and the other side answers the question or defines the vocabulary term. Flashcards are highly effective and they don’t take a ton of time to make. There are a plethora of websites and apps that allow you to make your own digital flashcards for free.


There are few things in the world as stressful as cramming for a test, especially when it’s a test you forgot about. Luckily, there are methods and tips, like the ones we reviewed above, to ensure you still ace your test without the long-term preparation. Now that you know how to cram for a test without going crazy, you can breathe a sigh of relief. As long as you remember to take care of your body and your mind, you’ll have no trouble coming out on top of your next test or exam. So, what are you waiting for? Grab a pencil and a notebook and start cramming!

Featured Image: Photo by Louis Bauer from Pexels

AP Psychology Study Resource: About Somatosensory Cortex

Have you ever stopped to think about how we all feel or experience certain things in the same way as others?

How do you know the color you perceive as being “red” is the same “red” as the person next to you?

What if their red is your green?

While we can’t answer these mind-boggling questions completely, we can explore the brain’s role in processing external stimuli, like colors, textures, sounds, and so on.

This is where your samatosensory cortex (sometimes referred to as the somatosensory cortex, instead) comes into play.

Responsible for processing external stimuli (or sensations), it plays an integral role in our day-to-day lives.

Below, we will explore this cortex in more detail, including how it works and what role it potentially plays in prosocial behavior.

The Location of the Somatosensory Cortex

Before we dive into the important role of the samatosensory cortex, it’s important to understand where it is in your brain and how it contributes toward your brain’s overall anatomy.

It goes without saying that your brain is the central hub of your body. And in order to provide so many different functions, it is a complex structure.

Made up of two sides (or lobes), your brain can be divided into the left- and right-hand side, both of which are connected by the corpus callosum. A different function is performed by each lobe.

The cerebral cortex makes up the outer layer of your brain, acting almost like the skin on a piece of fruit. Its role is to help with processing and more complex thinking skills, like interpreting the environment, language, and reasoning.

Making up part of this cerebral cortex is the somatosensory cortex, which you’ll find in the middle of your brain.

What’s the Role of the Somatosensory Cortex?

parts of the brain

The samatosensory cortex receives all of your body’s sensory input. And the cells (or nerves) that extend around your body from the brain are known as neurons.

These neurons sense many different things, including audio, visual, pain, and skin stimuli, and send this information to be processed in the somatosensory cortex. However, the location the neurons send this information to in the cortex isn’t random. Rather, each will have a specific place that’s relevant to the type of information being processed.

When these receptors detect a sensation, they send the information through to the thalamus (the part of your brain that relays receptors’ sensory impulses to the cerebral cortex) before they are passed on to the primary somatosensory cortex.

Once it arrives there, the cortex gets to work interpreting the information. Think of it like any type of data that’s sent to someone for analysis.

Furthermore, some of these neurons are incredibly important, which is why a large portion of this cortex is devoted to understanding and processing all of the information from these neurons. For example, high-level data will be analyzed in more detail and will take more time to interpret, while low-level data will go to a less-equipped analyst, requiring less time to be spent on it.

We can explore this in more detail by using Brodmann’s areas.

Brodmann’s Areas for the Somatosensory Cortex

Brodmann’s classification system

When examining the brain, Korbinian Brodmann, a German neurologist, identified 52 different regions according to how different their cellular composition was. Today, many leading scientists will still use these areas, hence why they are often referred to as “Brodmann’s areas.”

When it came to the somatosensory cortex, Brodmann divided this into four areas, 1, 2, and 3 (which is further divided into 3a and 3b).

These numbers were assigned by Brodmann based on the order he examined the area, and, therefore, are not indicative of their importance.

After all, area 3 is often seen as the primary area of this cortex.

How come?

Area 3 is responsible for receiving the bulk of the input that comes straight from the thalamus, with the information being processed initially in this area.

Area 3b is concerned specifically with the basic processing of things we touch, while 3a responds to the information that comes from our proprioceptors (these are specialized sensors that are located on the ends of your nerves that are found in joints, tendons, muscles, and the inner ear, relaying information about position or motion so you are constantly aware of how your body is moving or is positioned in a space).

Areas 1 and 2 are densely connected to 3b.

Therefore, while the primary location for any information about the things we touch is sent to 3b, it will also be sent to areas 1 and 2 for further in-depth processing.

For example, area 1 appears to be integral to how we sense the texture of something, while area 2 seems to have a role in how we perceive this object’s shape and size. Area 2 also plays a role in proprioception (this enables us to orientate our bodies in a particular environment without us having to consciously focus on where we are).

Should there be any lesions to these areas of the cortex (those that support the roles mentioned above, in particular) then we may notice some deficits in our senses. For example, if there is a lesion to area 1, we will find a shortfall in our ability to distinguish the texture of things, while a lesion to area 3b will affect our tactile sensations.

Somatotopic Arrangement 

Each of the four areas we have mentioned are arranged in such a way that a particular area will receive information from a specific part of the body. This is what is known as the somatotopic arrangement, with the entire body being represented within each of the four areas of the somatosensory cortex.

And as some parts of our bodies are more sensitive, e.g. the hands and lips, this requires more cortex and circuitry to be dedicated to processing any sensations that come from these areas. Therefore, if you look at somatotopic maps that depict the somatosensory cortex, you will notice they are distorted, with the areas of the body that are highly sensitive taking up far more space in this area.

How the Samatosensory Cortex May Contribute in Prosocial Behavior

As we now know, when someone experiences pain, this bodily sensation is processed in their brain. It will also switch on an emotional reaction in their brain, too.

However, when we see someone else in this type of pain, many of these same regions are activated in our own brains. But this differs entirely when you are dealing with a convicted criminal with psychopathic tendencies.

When they see someone else in pain, there is less activation in these specific areas of the brain. They will also show disregard and less empathy toward others.

What does this suggest?

That when these “shared activations” are lacking it can cause issues with a person’s empathy.

In fact, over the years, scientists have developed the belief that we are able to feel empathy for others who are in pain because of these shared activations – and this is why we have a desire to help them.

That said, there is still a lack of evidence which helps identify how helpful behavior is influenced by these pain-processing areas of our brain. That’s why some suggest that helpful behavior is contributed to very little by empathy-related processes.

Further Studies

To explore this further, one study looked at participants’ reactions to a video of someone being swatted on their hand by a belt while displaying different levels of pain. The participants could then indicate how much pain they felt this person was in by donating money to them – so the more pain they thought they were in, the more money they donated to try and ease this.

Throughout the study, the participants’ brains (their samatosensory cortex, in particular) were measured. And the results found that the more activated this area was, the more money they donated.

The researchers then interfered with the participants’ brain activity using various techniques that affected how they perceived the sensations in their hand. This altered their accuracy in assessing the pain of the victim, and it also caused disruption to the link between the perceived pain of the victim and the donations. The amount of money being given was no longer correlating to the pain they were witnessing.

A Role in Social Function 

These findings suggest that the area of the brain that helps us perceive pain (the somatosensory cortex) plays a role in our social function. It helps us transform the vision of bodily harm into an accurate perception of how much pain the other person is experiencing. And we need these feelings in order to adapt so we can help others.

This also adds to the current argument of what role empathy plays in helping behaviors, with it suggesting that we are indeed promoted to help by brain activity that is empathy-related. It allows us to pinpoint who needs our help.

Putting These Findings into Practice

girl in red jacket with happy face

By understanding this relationship between the activity in our brain and our helping behavior, it may help in the development of treatments for people who are suffering with antisocial behavior. Or for children with unemotional, callous traits – something that’s associated with a general disregard for other people and a lack of empathy.

AP Psychology Study Resource: Schachter Singer Theory

As you prepare for your AP Psychology exam, you will encounter many theories of emotion. One of the most important is the Schachter Singer theory of emotion, which is also known as the two-factor theory of emotion. It was developed by Stanley Schachter and Jerome E. Singer in the early 1960s. We have elucidated the most essential facets of this theory below.

The Schachter Singer theory states that each emotion is composed of two, intertwined factors: physiological arousal and a cognitive label. When an individual experiences an emotion, he or she experiences an often ambiguous state of physiological arousal to which the individual then ascribes a cognitive label which is highly dependent on factors in the individual’s immediate environment. Misleading factors in the immediate environment often lead to the misattribution of a state of physiological arousal.

What Is the Schachter Singer Theory

The Schachter Singer theory consists of three primary ideas:

  1. When an individual experiences a state of physiological arousal for which they have no apparent explanation, the individual will describe the state of arousal in terms of the cognitions in their immediate environment, even if the subsequent description is inaccurate.
  2. When an individual experiences a state of arousal for which they have an apparently veracious explanation, the individual is unlikely to search for any alternate explanation in the immediate environment.
  3. When an individual is in a situation similar to situations that have caused emotions in previous experiences, the individual will only experience a similar emotion if they are in a state of physiological arousal.

Each of these theses centers on the underlying relationship between physiological arousal (or lack thereof) and the role of cognitions available in the immediate environment. This relationship can serve to facilitate tenuous connections when no sensible cognition is immediately available, and it can serve obfuscate valid cognitions when a more obvious connection is more immediately available. The initial Schachter Singer experiment and similar experiments thereafter clarify the nature of this relationship.

Schachter-Singer Theory Experiments

In the initial experiment designed by Schachter and Singer, participants were given a fictitious drug that was ostensibly intended to improve the eyesight of all participants. This drug was in fact epinephrine, a stimulant that causes increased blood pressure, heart rate, and perspiration. The participants that received the epinephrine were divided into four groups.

Epinephrine Informed

The epinephrine informed group was told the fictitious drug they were being given would cause the side-effects caused by epinephrine. Based on this explanation, the epinephrine informed group had a readily available explanation for the physiological arousal they experienced when the stimulant took effect.

After the epinephrine had been administered, participants in this group reported the least prevalent feelings of anger and euphoria, presumably because they had the most logical and readily available cognition to explain the arousal they experienced.

Epinephrine Misinformed

The epinephrine misinformed group was told to expect a set of side-effects inconsistent with the effects of epinephrine. Based on this explanation, this group did not have a veracious explanation for the state of physiological arousal they experienced after the administration of the medication.

Participants in this group reported the highest levels of euphoria and frustration, presumably based on their inability to explain the sense of arousal they experienced based on the information and medication they had been given.

Epinephrine Ignorant

The epinephrine ignorant group was told nothing about the incipient state of physiological arousal. Based on this lack of an explanation, this group did not have a veracious explanation for the state of arousal they experienced after being given the epinephrine. After the drug’s administration, this group reported significant feelings of euphoria and frustration, although not as significant as those in the epinephrine misinformed group, presumably based on their inability to find an immediately available explanation for their feelings of physiological arousal.


In this experiment, the control group was given a placebo that had no effect on their state of physiological arousal and no explanation about what to expect. Based on this lack of stimulation and explanation, the group had minimal need to explain an absence of physiological arousal. As a whole, the control group expressed a minimal level of euphoria or frustration; however, participants in the epinephrine informed group did express slightly lower levels of euphoria and frustration.

Dutton and Aron

Shortly after the publication of the Schachter Singer theory, Dutton and Aron conducted an experiment in which they attempted to induce a state of physiological arousal without using any narcotics. To that end, Dutton and Aron designed an experiment in which male participants walked across one of two bridges. The “arousing” bridge was a suspect suspension bridge over a deep, ominous ravine while the “control” bridge was a stable structure over an auspicious landscape.

At the conclusion of each bridge was an attractive young woman who gave the participants an ambiguous picture about which they were instructed to write a brief narrative. The hypothesis was that participants crossing the suspension bridge would feel a sense of physiological arousal based on their crossing and subsequently mis-attribute their physiological arousal to the attractive young woman waiting at the end of the bridge.

Dutton and Aron tested their hypothesis by reading the narratives the participants submitted and assessing each narrative for sexual content. The experimenters found their hypothesis confirmed, as the narratives written by the men who crossed the “arousal” bridge were replete with sexual content ,whereas the narratives written by the participants who crossed the “control” bridge were largely innocuous.

Schachter and Wheeler

man wearing black coat sitting beside man in blue vest during daytime

Image via

In Schachter and Wheeler’s experiment, participants were given either epinephrine, chlorpromazine, or a placebo before watching a short comedy. As we mentioned above, epinephrine is a stimulant. Chlorpromazine is a tranquilizer which, in small doses, causes a lower heart rate, drowsiness, and numbness. After the short comedy, participants were asked to rate the comedic value of the film they had been shown.

As expected, the participants who had received the epinephrine found the film funnier than the other participants. The participants who had received the chlorpromazine found the film the least entertaining, while the placebo group fell somewhere in between. In theory, this demonstrates each group’s willingness to base their present physiological arousal on the cognitions available in their immediate environment.

Is the Schachter Singer Theory Valid?

question mark neon signage

Image via

The Schachter Singer theory has been criticized for its reliance on the autonomic nervous system, which signals that cognitive factors play a role in formation of emotions without providing an informative account of the process, especially the central nervous system’s role in the process. Aside from this critique, two well-known experiments sought to replicate some portion of Schachter and Singers original experiment but were unable to confirm the veracity of Schachter and Singer’s original findings.

Marshall and Zimbardo

In Marshall and Zimbardo’s attempt to recreate the phenomenon identified by Schachter and Singer, they administered either epinephrine or a placebo without any explanation of potential side effects in an amount determined by their body weight, a deviation from the original experiment, to participants shortly before the participants were exposed to either a neutral or euphoric confederate. The hypothesis was that participants who had received epinephrine before exposure to a euphoric confederate would attribute their physiological arousal to the confederate instead of the drug.

Based on the reported experiences of participants, there was no viable correlation between the post-epinephrine exposure to a euphoric confederate and similar feelings of euphoria. In fact, participants reported little discernable difference in sensation when exposed to the euphoric confederate in comparison to exposure to the neutral confederate.


Maslach conducted a similar experiment in 1979 in which he used hypnosis rather than epinephrine or any other drug. In Maslach’s experiment, one group of participants was hypnotized while the other groups served as a control group. The hypnosis group was primed to feel angry or euphoric in reference to certain cues. After the hypnosis portion, participants were exposed to a confederate who presented either euphoric or angry behavior followed by two other confederates, both of which presented euphoric behavior.

The results of both observation and self-reporting found that participants, while in a state of physiological arousal, felt angry regardless of whether the behavior of their ostensible confederate was euphoric or angry. Contrary to his original thesis that subjects would adopt the prerogative of their confederates while in a state of physiological arousal, Maslach ultimately concluded he had insufficient evidence to make a connection between a state of physiological arousal and negative emotions; though he was careful to note his results may have been skewed as participants are more likely to report negative emotions than positive emotions.


As you prepare for your exam, keep in mind the following principles as they reflect the most essential points of Schachter Singer theory (also known as the two-factor theory of emotion.) The two factors in this theory are a state of physiological arousal and a cognitive label: what a person feels and what that person chooses to ascribe the feeling to.

This can lead to misattributions of emotion because the easiest and most available cognitive label is often not the true source of the relevant emotion. Misattributions of this sort are most common when an individual experiences an emotion they are accustomed to attributing to an established source.

What You Need to Know About Weber’s Law

Psychology has always been a study that constantly asks a single question: Why? Why do we think this way? Why do we feel this way? Why do we behave this way? In a discipline so deeply linked to philosophy, it should come as no surprise that many theorems in psychology are still unanswered questions. There is only so much that can be empirically proven about human nature. However, with the rise of scientific and technological advancement, the sub-field of neuropsychology is in a better place than ever to find answers to some of the more nuanced psychological theories, such as Weber’s law.

As it stands, Weber’s law is currently enjoying a moderate amount of experimental attention in neuropsychology. Neuropsychologists are trying to pin down how human neurons detect and process physical stimulation, and Weber’s law happens to be the most long-standing theory on this phenomenon in the entire study of psychology. So, what is this theory? We’ll break down what Weber’s law is, why the law is useful, and the key points of the law that make neuropsychologists so curious.

What Is Weber’s Law?

In the simplest terms, this theory is about human perception. Specifically, this theory tries to understand how humans can perceive even the slightest difference between two stimuli. This theory addresses each of the five senses –touch, taste, scent, sight, and hearing–and suggests that human perception is sharp enough to accurately distinguish between the smallest of differences.

The Difference Threshold

In the Weber’s law theory, the “difference threshold” is the absolute smallest difference between two similar stimuli. Some neuropsychologists refer to this as “just noticeable difference”. In either case, the difference threshold grounds the theory with the caveat that the human mind can perceive the difference between two stimuli better depending on how close the comparison stimuli is to the original stimuli. Or in other words, we humans can distinguish between changes in stimuli even when two stimuli are very similar.

However, Weber’s law and human perception is challenged when the original stimuli is very intense. When the intensity of a stimuli is great, we have a harder time detecting changes after introducing another stimuli. This is the case for all five of the senses. If we are exposed to an intense stimulus, we are less likely not notice a subtle stimulus simply because the comparison between the two is too great. In this way, the difference threshold also suggests a blind spot in human perception.

Is Weber’s Law Useful?

This is a theory that can be very useful. In fact, we probably contend with this theory every day without noticing it much. Just like many theories in the broad field of psychology, humans are constantly proving or disproving the accuracy of theories. This law is no exception. Let’s look at some examples where Weber’s law is both present and useful.

Example One: Weight

The original proposal for this theory in 1834 was made on the basis of psychophysics, or the intersection between psychology and physics. For this new theory, the easiest way to test it was to use something that could be easily measured and recorded: weight.

Imagine you are holding a paperback book in your hand. You can obviously feel the heft of the book as well as the general size and shape. If we were to place another book of similar size, shape, and weight in that same hand, you would be able to detect the added weight. If we were to place another book that is slightly heavier or has a different shape in your other hand, you would be able to decide which book is lighter or heavier. Both are an example of the difference threshold.

However, if you were holding a box of books and we placed that paperback book on top of the box, you probably wouldn’t be able to detect the added weight. Why? It’s the perception blind spot in the difference threshold. Because the box of books is so heavy–making the stimulus intense–you are not able to detect the subtler stimulus.

Example Two: Temperature

different temperatures

Image by daniel monetta from Pixabay

We humans have an exceptional talent for detecting temperature changes. If you closed your eyes and we touched each of your arms with a piece of ice, you would be able to tell which piece of ice is larger because of how your skin would register a larger cold spot. But if we submerged your entire arm in ice water and then touched that arm with a piece of ice, you wouldn’t be able to register the smaller point of cold because of the intensity of your entire arm being cold thanks to that perception blind spot.

Temperature detection that is compromised can be dicey. When a body is exposed to cold for too long and hypothermia begins to set in, it is recommended that the body be warmed in small increments, starting with warm water and working up to body temperature water. Why? Simply because Weber’s law proves that the perception of temperature will be so drastically altered after the intensity of full-body cold that the body is unable to tell whether something is burning hot or not. In order to protect the skin, and to not shock the entire body system, victims of hypothermia are warmed gradually.

Example Three: Taste

While we all might not have the sensitive palate of wine tasters, the average human taste bud can detect slight differences in the way something tastes. Imagine making two pots of chicken soup, but one pot has an added secret ingredient. In a blind taste test, people who try the two soups would be able to tell which of the soups has the added ingredient.

However, if the intensity of the flavors is very great, the taste buds will be so overwhelmed that they would be unable to detect additional flavors unless the additional flavor was drastically different. This is why it is recommended to drink cold milk or water after eating something very spicy–the stark difference between the milk and the spice can reset your taste buds.

Example Four: Hearing

The human ear is a highly sensitive thing. If we focus, we really can hear the most minute sounds from across a room, which is why we can eavesdrop on a juicy conversation in a crowded room without any problems. However, if we overwhelm the difference threshold with an intense original stimulus, the following stimuli will be harder to detect. This is why people have trouble hearing each other during concerts. The sound of the concert is so overwhelmingly loud that it is almost impossible to hear the person next to you even if they are shouting in your face.

Example Five: Sight

A lady with blue eyes

Image via

Most humans actually have decent color perception because of the difference threshold. If we placed two red cards in front of you and asked you which card was more yellow, you would be able to point at the red-orange card with some ease. If we placed two blue cards in front of you and asked you which card was darker, you could point to the darker card without any trouble. If we placed two green cards in front of you and asked which is more vibrant, you would be able to pick the right card again. Human color perception is generally spot-on.

However, we run into some challenges when faced with light. The intensity of bright lights, such as the sun or a flashlight, shining in our eyes is so great that we can have trouble detecting weaker lights, colors, and even objects until our eyes adjust. This is another way in which the intensity of the original stimulus can undermine the difference threshold.

Example Six: Scent

A girl smelling flowers weber's law

Photo by Ruslan Zh on Unsplash

Human scent perception is fascinating. Not only are out olfactory senses tied directly into memory coding, but they also vary in sensitivity between human to human. Some people are able to detect the slightest differences between two similar scents, while others can only tell the difference between two different scents.

And just like every other sense, scent is also vulnerable to the blind spot in the difference threshold. If we doused a handkerchief in perfume, held it against your nose, and then asked you to try to smell anything else, you would find it impossible because of the intensity of the perfume.

The Key Points of Weber’s Law

Neuropsychologists continue to conduct research to try to understand how our sensory nerves detect stimuli and how that detection translates into perception in the human brain. These are the key points that they continue to come back to:

  • The just noticeable difference between two stimuli

  • The blind spot in the difference threshold

  • The areas of the brain that respond to different stimuli

Neuropsychologists are trying to pinpoint how human perception is translated by the brain. One of the ways they do this is to study the brain through MRI scans while exposing volunteers to different stimuli. Some of this research has enabled neurologists to confidently isolate the portions of the brain that are responsible for sensory processing.


Although not talked about often, Weber’s law is a cornerstone of neuropsychology. As one of the most enduring psychological theories in the field, this law and the associated principles of the law continue to make the case for the sensitivity of human perception.

This theory overall suggests that human perception is sensitive enough to accurately distingish differences between two similar stimuli, with the exception of intense stimuli that overwhelm the senses.

Researchers continue to try to understand how the brain processes sensory information by using Weber’s law as a basis in experimentation.

Featured Image: Image by Mashiro Momo from Pixabay

AP Psychology Study Resource: Drive Theory

A solid understanding of the various theories of motivation is essential for success on your AP Psychology exam. Drive theory is not, at present, a particularly well-regarded theory but it was deeply influential in the field of psychology throughout the 20th century. On your exam, you will be required to demonstrate an understanding of the basic tenants of drive theory which we have elucidated below.

As you have likely learned over the course of your studies, drive-based theories of motivation stipulate that each motivation is the product of a tension an organism experiences when one of the needs of an organism is left unmet. Drive-based theories of motivation are most helpful in understanding the role of physiological needs in motivated organisms but they can also be used to understand more complex human motivations that are not strictly physiological. Regardless of its efficacy, drive-reduction theories were highly influential in their time, and particularly based its propagators’ enthusiasm for scientific rigor.

What Is the Drive Theory?

Drive theory, or drive reduction theory, is a theory of motivation which suggests that all human behavior, and the behavior of all organisms, is a product of biological need and the state of tension or drive created by an unmet need. According to drive theory, we all exist in a state of relative homeostasis and all behavior preserves, or attempts to preserve, a state of equilibrium.

The American psychologist Clark Hull developed drive theory in the middle of the 20th century in an attempt to create an all-encompassing theory to account for behavior in humans and animals. Hull postulated that whenever an organism fails to have its needs met, it experiences a state of tension that produces a corresponding drive. The simplest example is a physiological need like thirst: when an organism hasn’t had its need for water met, it experiences a state of tension we call thirst and the organism then behaves in a such a manner that satisfies that thirst.


Emerge identity

Image via

In Hull’s theory, an organism is conditioned to repeat a behavior because any behavior that eliminates an existing state of tension by meeting a physiological need is reinforced by the relief of tension and thus more likely to be repeated. This explanation adheres to the broader stimulus-response framework with the state of tension as the stimulus and the behavior that reduces that state of tension or drive as the desirable response.

Mathematical Deduction

mathematics computation

Image via

While developing his theory, Hull attempted to find a mathematical equation that would account for all behavioral learning in humans. His end result is an overly complicated equation which is not relevant to your exam. Simply recall that the resultant equation was widely criticized for failing to account for all behavior while still leaving a lasting impression on the field in that it reflected the emphasis Hull placed on rigorous experimentation and scientific methodology.

How Does the Drive Theory Differ From the Other Theories of Motivation?

Drive-reduction theory is most widely criticized or disregarded by contemporary psychologists because it fails to adequately account for behaviors that are outside the purview of strictly physiological needs like thirst or hunger and behaviors that involve complex external factors. Because of these limitations, drive-reduction theory served as the impetus for many other theories of motivation that provided more viable alternatives. One of the most famous theories that emerged as a response to Hull’s drive reduction theory was Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

Arousal Theory

Arousal Theory states that an organism will always seek to find a balanced state of arousal. For instance, if an individual were feeling under-stimulated, he or she would go to the movies or seek the company of a friend whereas an individual feeling overstimulated would seek serenity in a less engaging activity like meditation. As you may have noticed, this is very similar to drive-reduction theory as both theories see individuals as the curators or their own inner equilibrium, a task each individual must accomplish with behavior that fills a present need.

Incentive Theory

Incentive theory is difficult to reconcile with drive-reduction theory because the incentive theory involves indirect, external rewards or drives such as money or status. Money is essential to satisfying a basic physiological desire like hunger but earning money does not have an immediate impact on hunger and money itself cannot be eaten. Status is even more difficult assess in light of drive-reduction as individuals are motivated by their own perception of the value of a reward, not a simple tension based physiological need.

Humanistic Theories

Humanistic theories of motivation both confirm the value of drive-reduction theory and clearly explains its limitations. The most famous example of a humanistic theory of motivation is Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Maslow’s work theorizes that the motivations of any individual change depending on where the individual finds themselves on the hierarchy.

On Maslow’s Hierarchy, the lowest level of needs are purely physiological: sleep, shelter, food, and water. This is completely in line with Hull’s drive theory of motivation; however, according to Maslow once you have satisfied your need for basic physiological comforts you move to a set of needs based on safety, love and friendship, self-esteem, and, finally, self-actualization. At each of these stages, the motivations of the individual in question become more complicated and more difficult to reconcile with drive reduction.

Expectation Theory

Theories of motivation based on expectations are the most complicated and, in part due to their complexity, the theories that differ from drive-reduction theory most drastically. According to expectation theories, each individual is motivated by a set of expectations he or she adopts in reference to a potential outcome or a set of potential outcomes. Expectations are informed by three factors: valence, instrumentality, and expectancy.

Valence is the value an individual places on the potential outcome in question. An outcome that holds little value for an individual has a low valence while an outcome that an individual considers desirable has a high valence.

Instrumentality is the role an individual sees himself or herself playing in making a potential outcome come to fruition. The more control an individual feels he or she has over a potential outcome, the more likely they are to feel motivated to adopt a course of action likely to produce the outcome in question.

Expectancy refers to an individual’s assessment of their own ability to perform his or her role in producing an outcome. If an individual feels they are incapable of playing his or her role effectively, they are unlikely to attempt the relevant course of action. On the other hand, an individual who feels confident in their ability to play his or her part will be more motivated to do so.

Examples of the Drive Theory?

One of the most famous examples of drive theory comes from an experiment conducted by Clark Hull while he worked at Yale University. Hull put two groups of lab rats in identical mazes with food at the conclusion of each maze. One group of rats was fed in this manner every three hours while the other group was fed every twenty-two hours. Hull’s hypothesis was that the under-fed rats would develop a stronger sense of how to get through the maze based on a greater tension or drive born of their unmet physiological needs.

In this example, the “drive” is the hunger experienced by the rats who are only fed once a day and the commensurate behavior is the successful navigation of the maze. The results of this experiment were inconclusive, but it still serves as an excellent guide to establishing the theoretical framework of drive-reduction theory.

Naturally, motivations or drives become substantially more complex when the subjects of observation are human. This fact is seen clearly in the observations of the social psychologist Norman Triplett. Triplett observed competitive cyclists at the University of Indiana and he found cyclists increased their speed dramatically when they trained with their peers as opposed to training alone. Triplett later quantified these results by assessing individual time trials compared to athletes times in races where other athletes competed simultaneously.

In this example, the drive is the pressure the athletes feel to compete with their peers and feel as if they are competent competitors in their chosen sport and the behavior is faster cycling. Hull would maintain that the need to belong and feel competent in reference to one’s peers in ultimately physiological although the field of psychology as a whole has since come to prefer an assessment of motivation in a context like this through the lens of Maslow’s Hierarchy instead of Hull’s drive reduction.


The most important things to internalize about drive theory during exam preparation are as follows. Drive reduction was developed by Clark Hull in the 1940s and 50s. Hull postulated that all behavior of any variety had its foundation in an unmet physiological need which created a state of tension which in turn motivated the organism to act and meet the need. Hull attempted to codify this theory in a mathematical equation but that effort was seen as overly convoluted and insufficiently expository. Drive-based theories have been largely disregarded by contemporary psychologists although the impact Hull and his adherents
had on the field is still regarded as valuable based on reverence for scientific rigor.

AP Psychology Study Resource: Instrumental Behavior

Some movements and actions are reflex. When someone puts their hand on a hot stove, they instinctively know to pull away. Otherwise, they will be burned, and this causes pain. The removal of the hand from the hot surface eliminates the chance of feeling pain, which will encourage that person to have the same reaction when they come in contact with another source of heat. However, if that person were to intentionally put their hand back on the hot stove to burn themselves, this would be called an instrumental behavior.

Because most actions are done as a response to a stimulus or as a reaction to another person, there isn’t much planning involved, if any. These behaviors are called respondent behaviors. This is the class of practices commonly discussed when talking about classical conditioning, as most of the connections that are made between stimuli and actions are made unwittingly.

What Is Instrumental Behavior?

Anything that is done on purpose, or with a particular goal in mind, is considered instrumental behavior. If the action has been thought out and planned in advance, it is deemed to be instrumental behavior. These acts are performed in order to reach a goal, such as gaining a reward or removing a punishment. The behavior will cause the desired outcome.

Instrumental behavior is commonly seen when problem-solving is being employed. Direct actions (for example, opening a door) do not always work. The door might be locked or otherwise jammed, so instrumental behavior is employed to find another way to open the door, which would be considered a reward. The instrumental behavior, in this case, would be to locate and use a key to unlock the locked door.

This is a type of behavior everyone employs, as long as there is a goal involved, big or small. Any time you have to perform an action to achieve the desired result, it is considered instrumental, instead of the respondent. The conscious intention behind the action is what sets this type of behavior apart from all others.

When Do You Apply Instrumental Behavior?

One place you will see instrumental behavior is in instrumental conditioning. This is a type of conditioning where the object must first perform the action before it can be conditioned. For example, if a child says a curse word for the first time, parents will chastise them, and they will get into trouble. The behavior had not occurred before this instance, so there wasn’t behavior to condition. However, by punishing the child, they learn not to say the curse word.

This process is also known as operant conditioning, where reinforcement and punishment are used to either increase or decrease the likelihood that behavior will be repeated in the future. By nature, rewarding and punishing others for their behaviors is typically instrumental and planned.

Reinforcement and Punishment

There are four main subsets of instrumental conditioning: positive punishment, negative punishment, positive reinforcement, and negative reinforcement. These aspects of operant conditioning, identified by B. F. Skinner, either aim to increase or decrease a specific behavior. As an example, let’s talk about a misbehaving child.


Positive reinforcement presents the desired outcome, and in our example, this could mean that the child is praised whenever they do not perform the adverse action. Negative reinforcement, however, is the removal of an unpleasant stimulus. For example, if the child were crying, they could be told to go to their room until they are done crying. Once they finish crying, they are allowed to leave their room and move freely about the space, which encourages the child to not cry in the future.


Positive punishment is when an unpleasant stimulus or event is applied after a behavior. A classic example is a parent spanking a child; this adds an unpleasant stimulus after an undesired behavior. Negative punishment, on the other hand, involves removing a desired event or incentives after an individual behavior. In this example, it might mean that the child can no longer play with their friends because they did not clean their room like they were told to.

Instrumental Aggression

Another area that popularly displays instrumental behavior is instrumental aggression. While impulse aggression is a feeling of hostility that pops up at the moment, goal-oriented and instrumental aggression is thought out and sometimes even planned and calculated. Goal-oriented aggression is an act of aggression that is done to achieve some sort of goal. This can range from name-calling to purposefully hurting another person.

In some cases, instrumental aggression is a precursor to goal-oriented aggression. This form of aggression is calculated and planned well in advance of the act itself. In most cases of instrumental aggression, there is a goal or a means to an end, and, those who act out in this sense seek to avoid the consequences of their actions. Some famous examples of instrumental aggression include the bombing of the World Trade Center, the mass shooting at Columbine, and the Oklahoma City Bombing.

Everyday Uses

Instrumental behaviors are not always malicious. Everyone, at some point in the day, will execute instrumental actions. This could be as simple as deciding to cook food because you know you are hungry and wish to eat. Or, it could be attending class because you want to succeed and get a good grade. As long as there is a motive behind the action, it is considered instrumental.

Top 4 Things to Know About Instrumental Behavior

There are a number of things to keep in mind when thinking about instrumental behavior and keeping this type of behavior separate from other types of behavior. This is far different from respondent behavior, where it is said that learning does not take place and it is merely a reaction to an outside source.

1. Manipulation of Instrumental Aggression

Often times, instrumental aggression is used in order to shed a positive light on the aggressor. You might have heard this referred to as someone “putting themselves on a pedestal” or “putting others down to make themselves look good.” While the two are not mutually exclusive, patterns of instrumental aggression mixed with this type of attitude can be indicative of a narcissistic personality. Many times this depends on the motive of the aggressor and what spurred the instrumentally aggressive action.

2. Generalized Aggression Model

If you are prone to aggressive behaviors, you can use the Generalized Aggression Model (or GAM). The GAM’s primary function is to combine different theories about aggression and aggressive behaviors into one more extensive umbrella theory that aims to explain why people behave aggressively. It takes into account the different circumstances in a person’s life that might cause them to act aggressively. This collection of theories helps scientists and layperson alike to understand where aggression and unkind behaviors stem from.

3. Conditioning

Ivan Pavlov is known for his famous experiment with dogs that salivated at the sound of a bell. Through classical conditioning, the dogs were taught to associate the sight of their food with the sound of a bell and therefore learned to salivate at the sound of the bell, even though the food was not present. However, it was E. L Thorndike, his experiment with cats, and his theory of “trial and error” learning that caused B. F. Skinner to define positive and negative punishment and reinforcements later.

In this experiment, Thorndike placed hungry cats in a puzzle box where they had to learn how to escape. At first, they clawed at the sides and other unhelpful behaviors, but they began to learn to push or pull at the escape route, leading them out of the box and to their food. Skinner thought there had to be more to learning than “trial and error,” so he began to look into how new behaviors became conditioned. This is where operant conditioning came to life.

4. Reinforcement

Skinner created the “Skinner Box” to test mice to see if they would press the lever in order to get food, even though they had no prior knowledge that this action would give them a reward. This is what he termed a positive reward, so the hungry mice would continue to push the lever over and over. Inversely, those same mice were put in a box that had an electric current that went through it. If they touched the lever, they would no longer receive the shock. They quickly learned to go straight to the lever.


The thing you need to remember about instrumental actions is that they are intentional. There is some goal behind the behavior, and there, at times, is even planning that goes into executing the behavior, if it is more involved or sophisticated. This makes it calculated and planned, whereas respondent behaviors are in response to external stimuli.

In some cases, these actions are malicious and aggressive. However, this isn’t always the case. Every day, choices are made, and when they are made, they are created with an end goal in mind. The actions that go along with these decisions, positive or negative, are the instrumental behaviors that B. F. Skinner worked so hard to define.

Guide To The Different Types Of Psychologists And What They Do

Psychology is a broad field of study applicable to every part of human life. This gives budding psychologists a number of specialties to pursue. In fact, it seems as if there is a subfield for every interest. We believe it is never too early to consider your academic and professional options. Listed below are some types of psychologists practicing their craft today and short descriptions of each. This is a great starting point for further investigation of professional psychology careers, but remember, you are not limited to the subfields on this list.

What Is a Psychologist?

While most of us think immediately of a therapist when we picture a psychologist, this is only one aspect of the field. Psychology is the study of the human mind, how it works, and how it influences behavior. Psychologists specialize in more than personal therapy. These professionals work with individuals, businesses, and other organizations focusing on mental health, but also employee selection, consumer behavior, government policies, learning disabilities, group behavior, and more.

Is There a Need for Psychologists?

As mental health becomes less stigmatized, and the use of psychology in such diverse fields as cross-cultural psychology and consumer behavior continues to become more recognized, the need for psychologists is increasing.

How to Become a Psychologist

First, major in Psychology in college. All Psychology students study the breadth of the field, to begin with, with more specialization possible as you progress. There are different requirements for each of the types of psychologists out there, but most require at least a Master’s degree after college. Investigate the field you want to pursue for more detail.

Types of Psychologists

Aviation Psychologists

Aviation psychologists work on flight crew behavior, airline safety, design training equipment, and use psychological techniques such as tests and interviews in-flight crew selection. The high-pressure work of piloting an airplane requires stable candidates with excellent coping skills, for example. Engineers often work with aviation psychologists to design airplane cabins and flight decks.


Biopsychologists, also known as biological psychologists or physiological psychologists, work on human behavior and the brain. These psychologists look to the neural root of human behaviors to understand the impact of biology on human actions, thoughts, and feelings. Biopsychologists also study the impact of brain injury and disease on behavior, which can lead to a new treatment, management, and prevention approaches.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists are one of the most commonly encountered types of psychologists because they work in all areas of mental health. They work directly with people with mental illnesses and psychological conditions. In addition to diagnosing, clinical psychologists offer psychotherapy and overall treatment plans. Some specialize in particular areas, such as adult mental health or substance abuse issues.

Cognitive Psychologists

Cognitive psychologists study thinking itself, including the way the brain handles and uses information, from learning to memory to problem-solving to language. These mental health professionals may work with patients or engage in research. They often concentrate on subjects like language development or learning disabilities. Cognitive psychologists work in many healthcare settings and can offer practical approaches to improve decision making, enhance memory, or improve learning.

Community Psychologists

While many types of psychologists work directly with patients, community psychologists work on broader social and health issues affecting communities. They work with the public on education and prevention that will bring positive changes through action.

Comparative Psychologists

Comparative psychologists work with both humans and animals to gain insight into human psychology. They study the behavior of different species to understand the differences and similarities between human and animals. These professionals work from the basis that many aspects of psychology are universal across species, but not all. Pavlov’s famous experiment with dogs is just one example of comparative psychology research.

Consumer Psychologists

Consumer psychologists, also known as marketing psychologists, are one of the types of psychologists who work primarily with businesses. They use knowledge of consumer buying behavior, such as what gets consumers to make a purchase and how consumers respond to advertising, to improve marketing and design. They also research consumer emotions, decision-making, target demographics, and attitudes toward products and brands. They even create products to appeal to particular consumer groups.

Counseling Psychologists

Counseling psychologists, like clinical psychologists, work with individuals on mental health issues, such as stress, grief, substance abuse, depression, and related problems. These professionals may specialize, perhaps in behavioral problems or family counseling. Like clinical psychologists, counseling psychologists are licensed. Out of all the types of psychologists in the field, counseling psychologists are the most common.

Cross-Cultural Psychologists

Cross-cultural psychologists investigate the way different cultures influence human behavior. They look at the way human behavior can be different between cultures, or how it can be similar. Cross-cultural psychologists investigate the difference in parenting approaches in individualist and collectivist cultures, for example, and how those differences affect later behavior.

Developmental Psychologists

Developmental psychologists are concerned with the way humans develop, from birth until death. Many focus on one period of life, such as old age or early childhood. This group of psychologists may assess children for developmental delays, research adolescent issues, or work with individuals on coping with developmental issues. Psychologists who work in this subfield might also focus on moral understanding, personality, language acquisition, motor skills, or identity formation.

Educational Psychologists

Educational psychologists are concerned directly with learning and education, focusing on how the learning process is affected by cognitive, emotional, and social factors. Applied work might include creating teaching and instructional strategies and materials. Research might focus on ADHD, gifted children, or the learning process.

Engineering Psychologists

Engineering psychologists work on enhancing human abilities through the work environment, technology, and equipment, such as healthcare equipment, cell phones, and cars. This is largely an applied field, where these professionals create practical solutions.

Environmental Psychologists

Environmental psychologists are concerned with people and their relationship with their surroundings, artificial or natural. Research in this subfield could include the human impact on the environment, while applied work might have an environmental psychologist shaping government policies.

Evolutionary Psychologists

Evolutionary psychologists investigate how psychological changes have affected human behavior during human evolution. This subfield holds that human psychological traits have adapted humans to survive over thousands of years.

Forensic Psychologists

Forensic psychologists work at the intersection of psychology and the law, which could include consulting on criminal or civil legal cases, providing therapy to crime victims, testifying in court, handling child custody evaluations, or assessing an offender’s risk of returning to crime. This subfield has become increasingly popular because of pop culture depictions of forensic psychologists; please note that these portrayals are inaccurate, and the reality is not so dramatic.

Health Psychologists

Health psychologists focus on the way psychology, behavior, and social groups influence health, from wellness to illness. Some professionals work directly with clients, through psychotherapy, coping skills, psychological assessment, and healthy behaviors. They focus on the whole person, considering behavior that might impact the medical problem, such as medication compliance, and the patient’s education, background, or economic status. Practitioners commonly work in medical settings.

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists

Industrial-Organizational Psychologists largely work on business concerns, by researching behavior in the workplace, focusing on worker productivity, assessing employees, and training. They might create training programs to reduce injuries and increase efficiency. They also are employed to assess a business organizationally and suggest ways to improve efficiency, reduce costs, and increase employee retention.

Military Psychologists

Military psychologists work in military settings and can provide therapy for military members and helping discharged soldiers adjust to civilian living. Others use their psychological knowledge for recruiting, training, and leadership, or researching aspects of military life.


Neuropsychology considers the physical brain, both structure and function, as it relates to psychology and human behavior. A neuropsychologist might be called in if a patient has lesions in the brain to test the electrical activity in the brain or to assess whether a brain injury might cause behavioral problems.

Personality Psychologists

Personality psychologists investigate personality and the traits that affect human behavior. This broad topic can have practical applications, such as research into changing one’s personality, investigations of personality traits that might connect to specific health problems, or how personality affects decision making.

School Psychologists

School psychologists help school children cope with academic, social, emotional, and behavior problems at school. They provide support and advice to students and direct intervention when necessary. They can also help students create a plan to deal with their school difficulties. These professionals work with parents, teachers, and school staff to make sure that the school environment is supportive and safe.

Social Psychologists

Social psychologists investigate group behavior, including behavior in social environments and how individuals are influenced by groups. Other topics explored cover a broad range, from persuasion to prejudice. Social psychologists might use their knowledge to influence groups towards healthier behavior and productivity.


Studying psychology can be an exciting career path, with a multitude of possibilities and opportunities. If none of the types of psychologists listed above are quite what you want, just do some research. Somewhere in the psychology field, there is a place for you.

AP Psychology Study Resource: Perceptual Constancy Definition

Not everything is at it seems.

The world around us appears to be what it is.

Your car looks the same today as it did yesterday. That tree outside in your front yard hasn’t changed much over the last few hours.

So how do our body and our mind process the existence of things, based on how we perceive them? The presence of an object must be the combination of it being there and how we respond to it, surely?

What if these inanimate objects all around us changed, according to their external environment?

Why is it, then, that we see them as consistent?

Let’s take a look at this phenomenon called perceptual constancy.

What is Perceptual Constancy?

hand holding ball

Encyclopedia Britannica explains that perceptual constancy is also often called constancy phenomenon, or object constancy.

This theory describes the way that both animals and humans can see an object in the same way, regardless of external effects. This means that the object appears to have the same size, color, shape, and location regardless of distance, perspective, and lighting.

This impression of what is around us tends to align with the object as it is assumed to be, rather than its existence in response to outside stimulus.

Perceptual constancy helps to explain our ability to identify objects regardless of the condition they’re in. The impact of their surrounding environment seems to be taken into account when we attempt to recall the object mentally.

An example of this is our perception of snow, regardless of environment. Snow still appears white to us, whether illuminated by low moonlight or bright sun.

Perceptual constancy minimizes when you aren’t too familiar with the object. Decreasing the number of environmental factors that help to identify the object will also reduce the abilities of perceptual constancy.

Different Theories Around Perception

Why does perception have such a significant impact on the world around us? Let’s explore a number of different theories that try to explain the role of perception.

Wikipedia explains that cognitive theories around perception believe there is a lack of stimulus. This is the claim that purely experiencing a sensation is not enough for us to interpret and understand the world sufficiently.

James Gibson rejected this theory, investigating instead the information fed to our systems of perception.

Gibson continued his work by coining the term “perception-in-action.” This intended to describe the theory that perception is a necessary aspect of animated action.

He believed that without perception, action would have no compass. He also felt the opposite, too – that without action, our perception would serve no purpose, either.

Gibson believed that animate actions require both motion and perception to exist. This is based on his theory that singular entities already exist in the world.

All that perception does to them is shed light upon their existence.

A view that opposes this theory is the concept that there is a continual adjustment of action and perception, affecting the external input.

This theory is known as constructivism.

Other theories that explore perception include philosophers like Jerry Fodor believing that the purpose of perception is knowledge, and evolutionary psychologists devising that guiding action is its primary purpose.

Looking at Visual Perceptual Constancy

Now that we’ve looked at a little background on the definition of perception and how its connected to psychology through theories, let’s discuss the visual and auditory aspects of it.

Wikipedia says there are many different types of perceptual constancies in our visual perception. Let’s take a look at them:

  • Size Constancy: This is a subjective visual constancy. It helps to explain the concept that within a reasonable range, a person’s perception of an object will remain the same. This is regardless of any change in distance of the size of the video on the retina. The perception of the image you see accounts for the actual size of the characteristics you’ve perceived.

  • Shape Constancy: This type of perceptual constancy is similar to size constancy because of its use of distance. Regardless of any changes in an object’s location or orientation, our perception of its size remains the same.

  • Color Constancy: This type of perceptual constancy is because of the human color perception system. It makes sure our perception of an object’s color remains the same, regardless of changes in external conditions.

Visual Perceptual Constancy Continued and Auditory Perception

Let’s continue to look at other types of perceptual constancy found in visual perception:

  • Light Constancy: This type refers to our ability to perceive the lightness of an object, regardless of how much external light projects upon it.

  • Distance Constancy: This helps to explain the link between perceived distance, and actual physical distance. A good example of this is the moon – when it is closer to the horizon, we see it as larger.

  • Location Constancy: This type of perceptual constancy refers to the connection between the object and the viewer. This is when an inanimate, stationary object appears stationary, despite any movement caused by the viewer either walking away or towards it.

Now that we’ve explored visual constancy, let’s address two different types of auditory constancy:

  • Music: Subjective constancy in music is the correct identification of a musical instrument remaining constant, despite its changes in flow, timbre, pitch, and loudness.

  • Speech: Speech perception is the idea that when we listen to somebody talk, we can recognize vowels and consonants as constant and the same, despite any changes in dialect, tempo, acoustics or general environment.

Perception of Motion

Free Encyclopedias look to another perceptual constancy theory that’s been the subject of much debate and research.

The argument lies in the mystery of how perceived movement cannot be accounted for based on the motion of that object across the retina of the viewer. If this were the case, then we would base any movement of an object on the movement of the observer.

A good example of this is when you ride a bike. If this theory were correct, then the rest of the world would also appear to be moving as well.

Another interesting phenomenon within our perception of motion involves the saccades of the eyes. These are otherwise known as rapid direct eye movements, which are responsible for picking up minute details when we see something by sending repeated information to the part of the eye responsible for this.

What’s strange about this is that any stationary objects within the image remain the same, despite the multiple pieces of information.

As well as taking contextual environmental factors into account, you also have to allow for specific receptor cells that additionally allow for the inclusion of up and down movement. Despite all the evidence we have, there are still many unanswered questions about the exact workings of motion perception.

Looking at Form Perception

The idea of form perception is how we identify objects and differentiate them from one another. Rather than seeing a random, loose grouping of stimuli, we see the world as an organized place where objects have definite forms and shapes.

The Gestalt psychology school discovered many rules and principles around how we group and organize separate elements in our external environment.

Gestalt postulated the figure-ground rule. In perceptual constancy, this helps to explain how we separate familiar objects from foreign ones. When looking at a new scene, our perception tends to make familiar objects stand out, while strange objects fade into the background.

An example of this is when we look at an abstract painting. An abstract painting holds little concrete consistency when it comes to solid objects. If we perceive anything to be familiar in the picture, we’ll notice it a lot more than the rest of it that we’re not so sure about.

Theories around the perception of form suggest that it comes from learning, experience, and parts of the nervous system. However, there is no single theory to account for our perception of form conclusively.

There also isn’t one concrete concept that brings our many different types of form perception.

Key Stages of Perceptual Constancy


The experience of sensory stimulation in this part of the perception process includes contact with a distinct stimulus. The world is chock full of stimuli that can draw our attention through several senses. So we are able to define the sights, sounds, smells, and tastes that populate our perceived experience. Stimulation involves selective focus and selective exposure. Selective concentration happens by anticipating to fulfill obligations and live enjoyably.

For instance, friends talking to you, but you were daydreaming the whole time. You will not hear what they are saying until they call out your name. Selective exposure happens by exposing information that will confirm existing beliefs, contributing to objectives, and having a state of joy. As we are not able to observe everything that is happening around us at the same time, we tend to engage in selective perception; perceiving only positive things.


The ability to identify and place objects and events is crucial for normal perception. Without that capacity, people cannot adequately use their senses in a perception that is organized by rules, and scripts. Organized with laws, people perceive things that are physically close together constitute a system. People developed this from actual experiences as well as common experience from daily activities like television, reading, or gossip. Some familiarity represented in remembrance will be some kind of schema.

This would help a person’s perception of categories be placed into numbers. However, it may cause perception issues as it influences a person to see nonexistence things or miss seeing things that are in reality. A script is a form of stimulus that focuses on an action, event or procedure. It is a method of how we behaved in the past and how we organized the event with our own action, which then organized by a pattern.


After going through the stages of stimulation, organization and interpretation-evaluation, there is another stage that comes called memory. We use this stage everyday! It is the storage of both perception and interpretation-evaluation that are kept according to scripts, events, or experiences. Memories are based off of perception.


After some time goes by, the memories stored are the ones individuals want to recall with certain information contained inside of them. Recall stage redesigns what people heard in a way that are meaningful to them. Recall information forces people to think or even rethink.

Looking at Perceptual Constancy

ball under sunset

We don’t see the world as it is.

We see the world as we are.

This well-known quote helps to explain how our perception of things acts as a filter when we look at the world around us. Our external environment is affected by our body’s ability to perceive things, regardless of the accuracy with which we perceive them.

Many theories attempt to explain the phenomenon that is perceptual constancy. It’s tempting to say that this is just how our body processes information.

However, there’s so much more to our view of the world than this.

Perceptual constancy helps to explain why it is we see things in a certain way, regardless of how they are. It also helps to keep our external environment ordered and predictable, helping us to feel a sense of safety.

Humanistic Perspective: AP Psychology Study Resource

Everyone has been through something.

Whether it’s small or big, positive or negative, the experiences we have growing up shape who we are as adults.

The brain comprises many layers of memories.

Some of these memories we suppress, while others come back to haunt us from time to time.

Some are voluntarily brought out for enjoyment.

As human beings, we are complex.

Our needs and desires have been the center of many psychological debates over the last few decades. What drives our behavior and responses is a fascinating topic that’s unlocked many possible theories.

Let’s take a look at one of these theories.

What is the Humanistic Perspective?

human shadow

So, what is humanistic perspective, then?

Humanistic perspective, otherwise known as humanistic psychology, is the emphasis of an individual’s ability to realize their creativity and capabilities.

Wikipedia explains that the humanistic perspective grew popular in the 20th century. It was an answer to the limitations brought on by Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis and Skinner’s behaviorism model.

The humanistic perspective helps the client to conclude that everybody is inherently good. Through this, it promotes a holistic approach to the human existence and focuses on areas such as free will, creativity, and positive human potential.

The humanistic perspective encourages us as humans to see ourselves as a while being, as opposed to just being the sum of our parts. It helps us to explore ourselves rather than focusing on the behavior of others.

Another interesting aspect of humanistic psychology is its recognition of spiritual aspiration. This psychological theory believes that our spiritual hopes are inherent in our psyche.

The primary goal of this theory in client therapy is to encourage the client to change negative behaviors by replacing them with positive ones. The client does this through becoming more self-aware and practicing mindfulness.

Essentially, this therapeutic approach combines the concept of mindfulness with behavioral therapy.

A Brief History of the Humanistic Perspective


So, where did the humanistic perspective come from, then?

A few key theorists were involved in the development of this theory.

These included Carl Rogers and Abraham Maslow. Very Well Mind also mentions Erich Fromm and Rollo May as influential theorists behind this concept.

In 1943, Maslow published a written article in the Psychological Review journal. This article was titled “A Theory of Human Motivation,” and it specifically described the hierarchy of needs that he was promoting through this theory.

After this article was published, Maslow met with other like-minded psychologists to discuss the possibility of starting an organization that focused on this new-found theory. The organization’s primary goal was to pioneer a more humanistic approach to therapy and psychology.

These like-minded psychologists all agreed on the three fundamental principles that the humanistic perspective exists on. These are self-actualization, individuality, and creativity.

Carl Rogers followed Maslow’s published article with one of his own in 1951, which he called “client-centered therapy.” In 1961, this group of psychologists established the Journal of Humanistic Psychology.

Shortly after this journal was created, Maslow published another piece that detailed the three forces of psychology. He believed that these were behaviorism, psychoanalysis, and humanistic psychology.

Fundamental Principles of the Humanistic Perspective

What are the basic principles of the humanistic perspective?

Study reminds us that this revolutionary theory was in contrast to the behaviorist approach, which believed that human beings weren’t entirely aware of the reasoning and motivation behind their own behavior.

  • Holistic: As has been mentioned, one of the essential principles of humanistic perspective is that a human being is a whole, not the sum of their parts.
  • Environment: The humanistic perspective believes that their environment directly influences a human’s behavior. A side principle of this is that social interactions are inherent to a human’s development.
  • Awareness: Humans are aware that they exist, meaning that they are fully conscious of themselves and their surroundings. They have an appreciation of the past and use past experiences to influence present and future behavior.
  • Free Will: Humans have free will. This means that they are entirely in charge of the conscious choices they make. Unlike behaviorism, they do not act on impulse or by instinct alone.
  • Intention: Human beings are intentional about their behavior. This is evident in their motivation to work on life goals and bring unique meaning to their life.

Personality Aspects of Humanistic Perspective

Ideal Self vs. Real Self

The famous psychologist Carl Rogers, an expert of humanistic perspective psychology, split each human being into two separate categories. These two are the ideal self and the real self. The ideal self is the person you would like to be in a perfect world; the real self is the person you are in this one. Carl Rogers proposed the idea that we need to achieve unity between these two selves.

We experience harmony in self-acceptance when our beliefs about our real self and ideal self are alike— meaning our self-concept is accurate. High congruence (harmony) leads us to a bigger sense of self-worth and a healthy, productive life. On the other end, when there is a significant inconsistency between our ideal and actual selves, we experience a situation Carl Rogers called incongruence, which can lead to failure to cope in reality, both socially and personally.

Unconditional Positive Regard vs. Conditional Positive Regard

In the construction of the self-concept, Carl Rogers hoisted the value of unconditional positive regard, also known as unconditional self-love. People who are raised in a setting that offers them unconditional positive regard (where their worth is not challenged), have the opportunity to actualize themselves fully. When people grow up in an atmosphere of conditional positive regard, a reality where value and love are offered only when certain conditions are met, they must reach those conditions to gain the love or positive regard they wish to have.

These are the environments where their best is never enough. Sometimes these standards are given by parents, teachers, or other people in leadership and authority. Others, with influance on them, determine their ideal self based on these conditions, and they are forced to develop apart from their personal and genuine actualizing inclination; this adds to incongruence and puts a more significant gap between the real self and the ideal self.

Achieving an Ideal Life

Carl Rogers described life in illustrations of principles instead of stages of development to reach or achieve; he formed (or put into words) principles we live by as humans. This famous psychologist claimed that a healthy person would steadily strive to meet their potential by using these principles, which gains them the best and healthiest state of being. These people would let personality and self-concept come up from the experiences they have in daily life, allowing them to reach their ideal life and self.

Critical Evaluation of the Humanistic Perspective

While this sounds like a move in the right direction for psychology and therapy practices, the humanistic perspective does have its critics.

Simply Psychology explains that because the humanistic approach has applied to so few areas of psychology, its contributions to branches like abnormality and therapy are somewhat limited.

One potential explanation for this lies in the humanist side of this theory. The humanistic perspective has deliberately taken a non-scientific approach to the study of humans. Psychologists that believe this theory wanted to study the human mind without completely dehumanizing it.

Humanistic psychologists believe that rigorous scientific study around the conscious mind takes richness out of the experience as a whole and doesn’t account for the organic flow of the human consciousness.

As we’ve mentioned previously, much of why the humanistic perspective exists in the first place is as an answer to the dominance of a behaviorist approach in psychology before the middle of the 20th century.

Another challenge that humanistic psychologists face is the simple fact that areas like emotion and consciousness can be difficult to study. The limited outcome of scientific experiments around parts of the human brain that are like this means there’s a lack of evidence to support the proposed theories.

Humanistic Perspective Therapy

We’ve looked at the definition of the humanistic perspective and its limitations as a branch of psychology. How is it applied in a therapeutic setting?

The American Psychological Association explains that there are currently three different types of humanistic therapy:

  • Client-centered: Client-centered treatment is a particularly popular method executed under the humanistic perspective umbrella. Client-centered therapy aims at rejecting the idea that the therapist is the final authority on their clients’ inner emotions and experiences. Instead, therapists help their clients change through understanding and empathy.
  • Gestalt Therapy: The second approach to the humanistic perspective of therapy is Gestalt therapy. This approach places a strong emphasis on “organismic holism,” which is the importance of being aware of yourself in the present. It also encourages the client to take responsibility for their choices and behaviors based on the theory that they have free will.
  • Existential Therapy: This type of humanistic therapy focuses mainly on the concept of free will and the client’s overall search for meaning in life. Existential treatment also addresses the importance of self-determination when overcoming negative behaviors and patterns of thinking.

Humanistic Perspective: Societal Application

How is the humanistic perspective applicable to society?

Wikipedia continues by discussing the importance of social work concerning this theory. Directly after psychotherapy comes social work in the humanistic perspective’s hierarchy of methodology.

In fact, this theory has led the way in revolutionizing the definition of social work itself and how this role impacts on a societal level. The values and principles that humanistic social workers hold include human creativity, developing the self and one’s spirituality, obtaining resilience and security, flexibility and accountability.

The humanistic perspective has also branched out into the corporate world. Its emphasis on wholeness and creativity has encouraged corporate organizations to embrace more of a creative approach to the work environment.

The presence of humanistic perspective in a corporate setting also seeks to encourage more emotional interactions, too.

Previously, in a work situation, the idea of creativity was reserved strictly for artists. However, with an increase in the numbers of people working in the cultural economy over the last few decades, companies have looked to creativity as a way to stand out and become noticed, especially when it comes to branding.

This shift in office environments and attitudes has led to the development of corporate creativity training, executed within the office with a particular focus on employees.

Looking at the Humanistic Perspective

woman standing in front of the window

Psychology has come a long way since the Freud’s psychoanalytic theory and Skinner’s behaviorism approach.

Slowly over time, psychologists have begun to explore different approaches to studying human behavior. When thinking outside the box and wondering where else our reasoning for behavior could come from, they came across the concept of humanistic psychology.

While this approach has its limitations like all other theories, its advantages outweigh its disadvantages.

Seeing a human being from the humanistic perspective means encouraging them to take responsibility for their own behavior.

We are more than just the sum of our parts – in fact, we’re a whole.

We’re a whole with free will who is in charge of how we behave and respond to stimuli. This allows for a much more empathetic approach in modern-day therapy, motivating the individual to participate in their own treatment for a positive outcome.

Dodge the Burnout and Boredom!: How to Improve Your AP Score

AP exams are unlike anything high schoolers have been through before. We found the ultimate expert advice on how to get the best AP score in your class.

When it comes to improving your AP score, the struggle is very real.

For perhaps the first time in your academic life, you are experiencing pressure from every direction.

You have to study, you have to score well, and you know that you have to become an expert in your chosen subject — all on your own.

Well, we’re here to tell you not to fret.

You’ve got this!

We found you the best tips and tricks on the internet explicitly designed to help you score as high as possible on every AP exam you have coming up.

But first, let’s cover some of the basics.

Let’s Talk About Your AP Score

For starters:

It’s vital that you understand how your AP test will be scored.

After you take the test, you will earn a score of one through five — here’s what the scores mean:

5: extreme qualification for college credit

4: well qualified to earn a college credit

3: qualified to earn a college credit

2: you may qualify to earn a college credit

1: you will not qualify for college credit

You can do it!

Around 13% of the people who take an AP test score a 5.

If you have a higher AP score, you will qualify for more credits than you would with a lower number.

Here’s the deal:

The only way to guarantee that you will qualify for college credit is to make sure you score a 3 or above.

The Many Benefits of a High AP Score

There are many benefits to nailing it on your AP exam aside from just earning credit towards your college classes.

old photo of Dr. Suess holding the book he wrote entitle "The Cat In the Hat"

“The more that you read, the more things you will know, the more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”

Image via Al Ravenna, New York World-Telegram and the Sun staff photographer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

 First, research shows that typically students who score a three or higher on their AP exams experience more academic success in coll​​ege over the kids who don’t partake in AP classes.

But that’s not all:

If you have a high AP score, you are also more likely to graduate from college on time — which could save you thousands of dollars.

AP scores are global!

If you are considering studying abroad, here’s what you need to know about your AP score: Qualifying AP scores can earn credit in nearly every university in the United States and Canada. Globally, over 100 other countries worldwide accept qualifying AP scores. And, In Europe and the UK, scoring a three or four will fulfill admission requirements.


You already know that you could earn college credits with a decent score, but what does that mean for you?

Well, it means:

Advanced placement in classes

Fulfilling requirements to graduate early

Skipping introductory or general-education classes

In summation, if you’re planning on going to college, you can save tons of time and money by scoring well on your AP exams.

You can do it!

Around 19 percent of the students that take an AP exam score a 4.

And, if you want to score a 3 or higher, you’re going to need to study your butt off.

Watch out for the Dreaded Burnout

Studies show that these days, students are burning out faster th​​an ever.

You might be burned out if you:

  • Keep getting sick

  • Procrastinate or feel overwhelmingly disinterested

  • Struggle with self-criticism or anxiety

  • Find yourself over-reacting to everything — even the small stuff

  • Are always exhausted

  • Are always distracted when you are eating

  • Feel numb or work to numb your feelings with drugs, alcohol, or food

  • Have trouble concentrating

  • Don’t feel like taking care of yourself anymore

  • Keep skipping school

  • Take out your frustrations on others

Does this sound like you?

Well, keep reading.

How to fight back against burnout

Now, if you just realized you’re feeling burned out lately, don’t worry — we found some ways you can deal wi​​th it.

Let’s dive in!

portrait of Jean Shinoda Bolen​

“When you recover or discover something that nourishes your soul and brings joy, care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”

Image via Facebo​​ok

The “Avoiding Burnout” Toolbox

  1. Get more rest: exhaustion can make you burn out faster
  2. Say no to things you don’t have time for
  3. Ask for help: talk to your friends, parents, teachers, or counselors
  4. Eat healthy foods
  5. Find an interest outside of your studies
  6. Reward yourself for a job well done
  7. Plan something fun
  8. Set boundaries
  9. Set aside time for something fun: no studying allowed
  10. Get more exercise: a ten-minute walk can help improve your mood for two hours

But, that’s not all.

There’s more.

Expert Tips on How to Fight Back Against the Boredom Monster

Burning out isn’t the only thing that will hurt your AP score.

Can you guess what is?

I’ll help you.

Boredom is another silent killer.

Yes, boredom. No matter how much you love the subject you’re studying; everyone gets bored or sleepy after a while.

Luckily, we managed to find some expert advice on how to deal with the boredom monster when it attacks:

Studies show that exercise is more beneficial to your academic success than you might think.

“It is remarkable how one’s wits are sharpened by physical exercise.”

First, exercise increases serotonin production, which will help you feel less anxious and depressed.

Secondly, and most importantly, we know that exercise also helps i​​mprove concentration, alertness, motivation, memory, and learning ability.

So, the experts say that a short 30-minute cardiovascular workout is most effective for the best results — and the best part is that you will notice the effects immediately.

You can do it!

25% of the people who take an AP exam score a 3.

However, not everyone is the same.

Perhaps you’re saying to yourself:

“There is no way I can do that.”

It’s OK!

If you aren’t capable of a workout like that, just do what you can to get that heart rate up for as long as possible.

It’s that simple.

A few more tips for beating boredom into submission

Exercise isn’t the only way to kick boredom in the butt.

Here are a few more t​​ips:

You might be burned out if you:

  • Limit your sessions: study for 30 minutes, then take a 10-minute break

  • Don’t focus too hard on results: concentrate on the process and the subject your tackling at that moment

  • Vary your setting: try to study in different areas like the library, a book store, or a cafe

  • Go outside

  • Reward your inner child: treat yourself for getting through that rough spot

Do you think you can do those?

Now Let’s Talk About How to Supercharge Your Study Habits

We get it. Maybe those suggestions just aren’t quite right.

Don’t worry!

Exercise isn’t the only way to boost your learning potential.

We found several more scientifica​​lly proven way to supercharge your study habits.

Some of these are easier than you think!

      No cramming

a female student looking outside while inside the classroom

Image via Pex​​els

You already know that studying for short bursts of time with little breaks is a great way to beat boredom.

However, you also need to remember to spread out studying your subject as well — this means no cramming.

Can you believe it?

Everyone crams, right?

“Learning is not the product of teaching. Learning is the product of the activity of learners.”

Well as it turns out, cramming isn’t all that beneficial.

See, if you cram for your exam, your brain will only store the information in its short-term data banks.

On the other hand, if you study for your AP exam spread out over as much time as possible, you will commit the information to your long-term memory.

Once the information exists in the long-term memory section of your brain, it will be there forever.

So, change it up and give this no-cramming rule a try!

      Teaching someone else

group of girls studying

Image via Pixabay

Studies overwhelmingly s​​how that if you teach someone else what you’re learning — it will help you learn the information yourself.

Here’s how it works:

If you read the material with the intention of teaching it to someone else, you actively understand and store the information in your memory.

Pro tip!

Studies show that if you read through the exam before you take it, that could help your score.

Whereas, if you read the information passively, that’s how your brain remembers it.

      Test yourself

a man looking at the notes posted on the whiteboard

Image via ​Pexels

Next, we understand that the test itself is the true stressor in your life right now.

However, there are a ton of practice AP tests out there — and you truly want to boost your AP score, you will take as many of them as possible.

Research shows that testing yourself will help you:

  • Ease test anxiety

  • Show areas of weakness

  • Learn/recall the information more proficiently

Reading the material is all well and good.

You can do it!

In 2018, 21.2 percent of the people that took the AP psychology exam scored a 5.

It’s essential, though, that you can recall that information when you’re going to need it, and a practice test is the only way to know for sure.

Once you’ve got a few practice tests licked, your confidence will be flying sky high!

      AP practice tests

We know, what you’re wondering:

“Where can I find some of these practice tests?”

We’ve got you covered.

Here are some excellent links to pages with a ton of free practice tests.

      Get some sleep

a teenage boy sleeping

Image via Pexel​​s

Another way to boost your AP score is to get plenty of rest.

In addition to combating burnout and boredom, getting plenty of sleep has a significant impact on what you’re brain will be able to recall.

Here’s how it works:

When you sleep, your brain goes through physical changes.

portrait of writer, Audrey Niffenegger

“Sleep is my lover now, my forgetting, my opiate, my oblivion.”

Audrey Niffe​​negger – The Time Traveler’s Wife

Image by Michael Strong, CC BY-SA​​ 3.0, via Wikimedi​​a Commons

After your brain intakes information during the day, it grows new​​ connections and pathways after you fall into a deep sleep later on — which commits the information to memory.

If you aren’t sleeping well, however, your brain won’t have a chance to perform that essential function, and that won’t help your AP score one bit.

      No more all-nighters

Regardless of what Hollywood might lead you to believe, all-nighters are not an effective way to make sure you nail it on your AP exam.

Pro tip:

The mind/body connection is a strong one. Experts say that striking a powerful pose, hands on hips, AKA the Wonder Woman pose before the test helps you face it like the superhero you are.

Sadly, in the real world, missing out on a night’s sleep will inhibit your brain’s ability to process and store information.

As a matter of fact:

Res​​earch shows that skipping out on sleep could cut your ability to recall the information you learned by up to 40 percent.

How Music Can Help You Turn Things Up

Next, we have great news for music lovers.

According to research, listening to music while you study is incredibly beneficial for more reasons than one.


First, according to the University of Ma​​ryland, listening to music helps students with stress and test anxiety feel better.

Secondly, other studies found that music helps in overall performance and even with pain management.

Most importantly, though, let’s talk about what music will do for your brain’s ability to learn.

You can do it!

In 2018, 13.4 percent of the people that took the AP chemistry exam scored a 5.

According to a study out of Stanford, “Music moves the brain to pay attention.”

Interestingly enough, by using classical music,  the stu​​dy found that:

“Music engages the areas of the brain involved with paying attention, making predictions, and updating the events in memory.” 

Check out the video below of what Mozart does to someone’s brain:

But that’s not all.

It turns out that music is also an incredibly influential factor when it comes to memory and cognitive functions.

Check out this video:

As you can see, when it comes to memorization and recall, music is your friend.

Tips Specifically for Boosting Your AP Score

By now, you realize that your upcoming AP test is unlike any exam you have taken before.

So, we checked in with the experts to see what you can do to specifically help you improve your score on your upcoming AP exams.

Wnat to know what they say?

Keep reading.

      Make a study schedule

First, whether you are taking one or several AP classes, make a study schedule.

Most students find that starting to study for the final AP exams around three months out is the most effective strategy — but you should figure out what works for you.

Check out the video below:

To come up with the most effective plan, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How many weeks/days/months away are the exams?

  • What time of day do you feel the most focused?

  • How much time each week/day/month can you devote to studying for each exam?

  • When will you do the work? (for example, Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 5 p.m. study for AP psych)

      Start with older material

Did you know the order of the material matters?

It does!

When you sit down to review for your AP exams, experts say to start with the old material first.

Refreshing your memory consistently is the best way to make sure you recall the information you need.

You can do it!

In 2018, 30.2 percent of the people that took the AP physics exam C (mechanics) scored a 5.

Keep the AP exam in mind as you approach new material

Next, as you go through the school year, approach all your new material with the AP test in mind.

It’s easier than you think.

When you take an AP class, you can’t just forget the material once you’re graded on it the first time.

As you learn new material in your AP subjects, make notes about what you’re up to.

Pro tip:

Not all music is created equal when it comes to learning. Experts find that instrumental music like classical, ambient hip-hop, and electronica help the most.

Later on, you will want to have noted both the essential points in each lesson as well as the areas in which you struggled.

      Don’t rely too heavily on your teacher

portrait of Nelson Mandela

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” 

Library of the London School of Economics and Political Science [No restrictions], via Wikimedia Commons

Now, you already know that your AP course is unlike anything you have done before.

It stands to reason, then, that preparing for the AP test is also a new experience for you.

For what may be the first time in your school career, you can’t count on your teacher to deliver all the essential information.

It’s your teacher’s job to ensure you have your information for the school year.

However, no teacher has the time to cover everything on the AP test; and counting on them to do so will hurt your overall score.

This calls for reinforcements.

      Invest in an AP prep book

The good news is:

You aren’t entirely on your own when it comes to learning everything you need to know for a fantastic AP score.

First, there are a ton of AP prep books like this one on the market these days covering every subject you can think of.

You definitely want to get yourself a prep book for the AP subjects you’re studying this year.

In addition to essential information on your AP subject, sometimes those prep books will have practice tests in them as well.

She Scored a 5 on Her AP Psych Exam – Here’s How

Now, we have heard enough from adult experts, let’s hear from some students going through the process.

Check out the video below:

As you can see, she used a few of the ideas we are talking about today to study for her exam.

Not taking the AP psychology exam?

No problem!

Handy Memorization Techniques

Anyone who has ever studied anything knows that no matter how hard we try not to, sometimes learning comes down to straight memorization.


We found some interesting techniques to help you memorize all that stuff easily.

Check out this video:

But that’s not all, there’s more!

The Link Method

First, we have the link method.

Check out the video below:

It seems simple enough.

You just create links between what you already know and what you want to remember.


The Story Method

Check out this one!

The video below to learn about the Story Method for memorization:

Like the Link Method, the Story Method for memorization creates a pathway for remembering more stuff than you can imagine.


The Loci Method

Next, instead of a story, the Loci Method for memorization uses physical items and locations to help you remember.

Check out the video below:

Feeling overwhelmed?

Don’t worry!

You don’t have to learn all of these techniques — we simply want to give you as many options as possible.

Mind Mapping Technique

Finally, we round out this list of memorization techniques with the Mind Mapping Technique.

You’re going to want to see this one.

Check out the video below:

It’s Test Time


Now that we have covered how to study leading up to it let’s talk about the week of the exam.

So, lets get down to business.

Top foods to eat on the day of the test:

  • Fish to get those Omega-3’s
  • Dark fruits and veggies: berries, apples, beans, artichokes
  • Complex carbohydrates: whole grains, fresh fruit, beans or legumes
  • A quality protein: eggs, lean meat, low-fat milk, or soy
  • Water: you need to be adequately hydrated to get 100 percent performance out of that brilliant brain of yours]

Hopefully, you have given yourself plenty of time for studying, so the final week should be as relaxed as possible.

Here are some pro-tips for exam time:

  • The night before: get a good night’s sleep

  • Don’t study right before the test

  • Stay calm

  • Don’t engage in negative talk with your peers before the exam (for example, “I am so nervous right now.”)

  • Ask the instructor for a scrap piece of paper for mind-mapping/math

  • Don’t pay any attention to the students that finish before you

  • Make sure you read through the exam in full before you start

  • Read the instructions on the test carefully before you begin

Easy enough, right?

You’re Going to Nail It

Congratulations, you have just taken the bull by the horns, and you are more prepared than ever to get the highest AP score possible.

Just remember:

Give yourself plenty of time.

If you follow the simple steps we laid out for you here, starting with a study schedule, you will find you’re capable of more than you ever imagined.

Featured Image: CC0 via Pexels