Chapter 111: How to Write the AP Psychology Free-Response Answer
Every year around the beginning of June, high school and college psychology teachers gather at a university for one purpose: to grade AP Psychology free-response question answers.
Readers are assigned to one of the two essay questions and go through training to ensure they grade your writing fairly and consistently.
Readers go through reliability checks to make sure they read the answers fairly.
Writing the AP Psychology free-response answer might be a unique writing experience for you, just as this is a unique grading experience for many of the readers.
The way you answer a normal essay question may need to be changed for an effective free-response answer on the AP Psychology test.
The difference between the way these essays are graded and your writing should be taken into account.
The tests are graded in a systematic way so that they are consistent and objective.
Every student's response is checked to make sure it is fair.
Understanding how the tests are graded will give you insight as to how to use your time best.
There are general suggestions about answering the free-response questions.
The suggestions and hints are based on how the items are designed and graded.
An example AP-style free-response question and rubric are provided.
AP readers use rubrics similar to this one to score student responses.
A complete explanation of how the student response would be scored is provided in a fictional student response.
A complete picture of how the items are structured and scored can be found by carefully examining this question, rubric, and scored sample student response.
Before you start writing, remember to think about what you're going to write about.
If you timed some practice responses before the test, you can figure out how long you need to answer the questions.
Don't spend so much time that you feel rushed later, but use two to three minutes to organize your thoughts about each response.
Don't write your answer in an outline form.
Readers are not allowed to give points for the use of full sentences, proper paragraph form, and so on, they are not allowed to give points for a response written as an outline.
Write in paragraphs and sentences.
Paragraphs are used to show where you move from one point to the next in your response.
You need to cover everything in the question.
Try to answer the question in chronological order.
Answer the question in a clear, organized way if you picture the likely rubric in your mind.
If you structure your answer, it will show you answered all parts of the question.
Paragraphs should begin with a topic sentence that tells you which part of the question you are answering.
Do not worry about the introduction and conclusion.
You get points for accurate information, not style or aesthetic considerations.
In the time you have, try to write as cleanly as possible.
Readers become experts in reading difficult handwriting, but undecipherable handwriting won't help you get a better score.
If you have time at the end of the test, you should rewrite any words that are messy.
If you need to add text in the middle of your response, clearly state where the additional text should go.
Leaving a little space between paragraphs is effective for some students.
If you have more time, you can use it to go back and make sure you said what you wanted to, add more examples for clarification, and rewrite any confusing sections.
The graders will want the most common method when asked to describe several methods of experimental control.
Don't waste time explaining complicated techniques.
Write about random assignment, not group matching.
Readers are not interested in what these terms mean in other contexts.
Define the term and give an example if possible.
Don't use the word itself in your definition if you're asked to define a term.
The sentence " Modeling is when someone models another person's behavior" is unlikely to score a point because the writer is not demonstrating any knowledge about the concept.
Make sure your context is clear.
Whether you get the point or not depends on whether you use an example in the right context.
You could give a great example of retroactive interference.
If the reader is not sure which concept the example applies to, you may not get the point.
Do not despair if you feel confused about a question.
If you can, write something.
You can hit on what the rubric asks for.
You won't ruin your score if you miss one part of the question.
Give an example of the term in your response when asked about a psychological term.
Although most free-response questions ask for applications or examples, defining and giving an example of the term gives you an additional opportunity to demonstrate your knowledge to the reader.
It is1-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-65561-6556 If it specifically asks for an example, make sure you provide a clear example in context because the scoring guide will focus on examples.
Three people are asked to compare the size of geometric figures by a professor.
In the first condition, the three confederates are introduced as introductory psychology students.
One of the confederates is a graduate student in perception research.
The confederates all gave the wrong answers to the size-comparison questions.
The professor tracks the number of times participants conform to the incorrect answers.
Stop and think about what the question is asking.
You can make notes on the question sheet, and many students find it helpful to organize their thoughts at this point.
A certain organization is implied by all free-response questions.
Do not ignore the implied organization.
You may be tempted to create a different organization for your answer.
The time you spend planning this unique organization is wasted because your reader is not giving you points based on organization.
If you answer a question out of order, the reader might misunderstand what you are trying to say.
The format of the question indicates that you organize your essay by the seven bulleted elements.
The instructions in the test booklet do not allow you to write your answer as an outline, but you should organize your answer in the same order as the elements in the question.
The question doesn't ask you to review the Asch study in detail.
A detailed description of Asch's study does not directly answer this question, but knowing the basic findings of Asch's study will help you with the last two bullets.
Adding information that the question doesn't ask for will not help your score.
Don't write an introduction or conclusion in your time.
General writing skills like introduction, conclusions, writing mechanics, and so on are not included in the rubrics.
If you want to organize your response, answer the elements of the question clearly and in order.
Before you look at the scoring rubric provided below, you may want to write your own response to the free-response question.
The scoring rubric can be used to score your answer.
There is a 7-point question.
The answer should state that the different introductions of the confederates are independent variables.
The confederates were introduced as psychology students.
One of them was identified as a graduate student in perception.
The variable the experimenter is trying to manipulate is the only designed difference between the groups.
Conformity is a dependent variable.
Professor Reiman manipulates the independent variable to see how it affects the dependent variable.
Professor Reiman defines conformity as the participant agreeing with the wrong answers of the confederates.
If you identify the operational definition as conforming, don't award a point.
The dependent variable is formity.
The random assignment is the main element of the experimental design.
Randomly assigning participants to the two conditions would control many possible subject variables.
"Random assignment would control for the possibility that participants might misunderstand the directions, or might be in a bad mood at the time of the study, or might have hostile reactions to psychology students."
An example of a subject-relevant variable is correct.
The main difference between the two studies is the inclusion of an independent variable.
One of the conditions states that one of the confederates is a graduate student in perception.
One point is given for showing that most of the participants in the first condition would conform to the group's wrong answers.
The results would be the same because this condition is similar to Asch's original study.
You get another point for predicting the level of conformity in the second group, with one confederate identified as the expert.
The authority figure should increase the level of conformity in this group.
The rubric tells the readers to look for points that correspond to correct answers.
You will not be punished for saying something wrong or making a factual error.
Readers look for points.
This rule does not allow you to directly contradict yourself.
Readers won't give you a point if you contradict something you wrote.
The rubric shows you how to organize your response to the question.
The reader can look for points in order if you organize your answer this way.
This isn't just to be nice to the reader.
It increases your chances of getting the attention of the reader.
The more clearly you communicate, the more points you will get.
"grids" are used by psychology readers to keep track of how many points a response earns.
The grid is based on the question and the rubric.
If it helps you think about how to organize your answer, you can imagine or even sketch out what the grid for a question might look like.
Table 16.1 has a grid for this example free-response question.
When a student essay earned a point, the column on the right would be used to check it off.
The following fictional student essay can be graded using the sample free-response question and rubric.
A valuable psychological topic was picked by Professor Reiman.
Many valuable elements are included in her design.
The most likely results of the experiment will be examined in this essay.
prestige is the independent variable in this experiment.
The confederates are introduced as psychology students.
One of the confederates is a graduate student.
The change is an independent variable.
The people can either change their answers or not.
This is the operational definition as well.
The presence of the confederates is one of the variables that is not clear in the study.
Professor Reiman should use a random sampling of people not familiar with her research for an accurate study.
One of the people in one of the groups pretended to be a graduate student in the study.
That's the main difference.
The second group would be more in line with the first group.
Speaking out against the group is hard for most of the people in the first group.
The graduate student in psychology is saying the wrong answer, so more people would conform in the second group.
The participants in the study would know what the person is talking about.
Professor Reiman's study is a great addition to the world of psychology.
She shows that people are swayed by experts.
If those experts don't know what they're talking about, this can become dangerous.
You can use the rubric explained earlier to grade this sample response on your own.
The introduction and conclusion to this sample response are important to notice before we begin discussing individual points.
The student does not directly address the question in those two sections.
This response was not helped by these two sections.
The student could have used his or her time more effectively if he or she started his or her response in the second paragraph.
The confederates are introduced as psychology students.
One of the confederates is a graduate student.
The student is confused about the difference between an operational definition and a dependent variable.
"whether people change their answers or not" is the operational definition identified by the student.
The point is awarded for the correct identification, even though the student says this is also a dependent variable.
The student thought that the use of confederates was not a variable.
Confederates can be used in research.
It is a variable that is not in and of itself.
The graduate student is included in Asch's research in a way that is different from this study.
The student states that most of the people in the first group would conform to the wrong answers.
The student predicts that participants exposed to the second condition will conform to the first condition.
The essay would get 5 out of 7 possible points.
Since this is an e-Book, directions will be similar to what you will see on test day.
Use the analysis sheets and rubrics to help score your exam, and record all of your answers separately.