Introductory Psychology

beginning of content:

Add Study Guides

CLEP® Introductory Psychology Examination Guide

PDF Document $10.00

The Introductory Psychology exam stresses the basic facts, concepts, and generally accepted principles of psychology.

2018 CLEP Official Study Guide

Book $24.99

This study guide provides practice questions for all 33 CLEP® exams. The ideal resource for taking more than one exam. Offered only by the College Board.

Skip to shopping cart

Introductory Psychology

Overview

The Introductory Psychology exam covers material that is usually taught in a one-semester undergraduate introductory course in psychology. It stresses basic facts, concepts, and generally accepted principles in history; approaches and methods of psychology; biological bases of behavior, sensation, and perception; states of consciousness; learning; cognition; motivation and emotion; personality; psychological disorders and treatment; social psychology; and statistics, tests, and measurements.

The exam contains approximately 95 questions to be answered in 90 minutes. Some of these are pretest questions that will not be scored. Any time test takers spend on tutorials and providing personal information is in addition to the actual testing time.

The questions on the CLEP Introductory Psychology exam adhere to the terminology, criteria, and classifications referred to in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5).

Knowledge and Skills Required

Questions on the Introductory Psychology exam require test takers to demonstrate one or more of the following abilities.

  • Knowledge of terminology, principles, and theory
  • Ability to comprehend, evaluate, and analyze problem situations
  • Ability to apply knowledge to new situations

The subject matter of the Introductory Psychology exam is drawn from the following topics. The percentages next to the main topics indicate the approximate percentage of exam questions on that topic.

History, Approaches, Methods (8–9%)

  • History of psychology
  • Approaches: biological, behavioral, cognitive, humanistic, psychodynamic
  • Research methods: experimental, clinical, correlational
  • Ethics in research

Biological Bases of Behavior (8–9%)

  • Endocrine system
  • Etiology
  • Functional organization of the nervous system
  • Genetics
  • Neuroanatomy
  • Physiological techniques

Sensation and Perception (7–8%)

  • Attention
  • Other senses: somesthesis, olfaction, gestation, vestibular system
  • Perceptual development
  • Perceptual processes
  • Receptor processes: vision, audition
  • Sensory mechanisms: thresholds, adaptation

States of Consciousness (5–6%)

  • Hypnosis and meditation
  • Psychoactive drug effects
  • Sleep and dreaming

Learning (10–11%)

  • Biological bases
  • Classical conditioning
  • Cognitive process in learning
  • Observational learning
  • Operant conditioning

Cognition (8–9%)

  • Intelligence and creativity
  • Language
  • Memory
  • Thinking and problem solving

Motivation and Emotion (7–8%)

  • Biological bases
  • Hunger, thirst, sex, pain
  • Social motivation
  • Theories of emotion
  • Theories of motivation

Developmental Psychology (8–9%)

  • Dimensions of development: physical, cognitive, social, moral
  • Gender identity and sex roles
  • Heredity-environment issues
  • Research methods: longitudinal, cross-sectional
  • Theories of development

Personality (7–8%)

  • Assessment techniques
  • Growth and adjustment
  • Personality theories and approaches
  • Research methods: idiographic, nomothetic
  • Self-concept, self-esteem

Psychological disorders and health (8–9%)

  • Affective disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Dissociative disorders
  • Health, stress, and coping
  • Personality disorders
  • Psychoses
  • Somatoform disorders
  • Theories of psychopathology

Treatment of psychological disorders (7–8%)

  • Behavioral therapies
  • Biological and drug therapies
  • Cognitive therapies
  • Community and preventive approaches
  • Insight therapies: psychodynamic and humanistic approaches

Social Psychology (7–8%)

  • Aggression/antisocial behavior
  • Attitudes and attitude change
  • Attribution processes
  • Conformity, compliance, obedience
  • Group dynamics
  • Interpersonal perception

Statistics, Tests, and Measurement (3–4%)

  • Descriptive statistics
  • Inferential statistics
  • Measurement of intelligence
  • Reliability and validity
  • Samples, populations, norms
  • Types of tests

Study Resources

Most textbooks used in college-level introductory psychology courses cover the topics in the outline given earlier, but the approaches to certain topics and the emphases given to them may differ. To prepare for the Introductory Psychology exam, it is advisable to study one or more college textbooks, which can be found in most college bookstores. When selecting a textbook, check the table of contents against the knowledge and skills required for this test. You may also find it helpful to supplement your reading with books listed in the bibliographies that can be found in most psychology textbooks.

Textbooks

A survey conducted by CLEP found that the following textbooks are among those used by college faculty who teach the equivalent course. You might purchase one or more of these online or at your local college bookstore.

  • Brannon and Lefton, Psychology (Allyn & Bacon)
  • Coon, Psychology: A Modular Approach to Mind and Behavior (Wadsworth)
  • Feldman, Essentials of Understanding Psychology (McGraw-Hill)
  • Gerrig and Zimbardo, Psychology and Life (Allyn & Bacon)
  • Hockenbury and Hockenbury, Psychology (Worth)
  • Huffman, Living Psychology (Wiley)
  • Kowalski and Westen, Psychology (Wiley)
  • Lahey, Essentials of Psychology: An Introduction (McGraw-Hill)
  • Meyer and Ciccarelli, Psychology (Prentice Hall)
  • Myers, Exploring Psychology (Worth)
  • Nairne, Psychology: The Adaptive Mind (Wadsworth)
  • Pastorino and Doyle-Portillo, What is Psychology? (Wadsworth)
  • Rosenberg and Kosslyn, Psychology in Context (Allyn & Bacon)
  • Santrock, Psychology Essentials (McGraw-Hill)
  • Smith & Passer, Psychology: The Science of Mind and Behavior (McGraw-Hill)
  • Wood et al., The World of Psychology: Portable Edition (Allyn & Bacon)
  • Zimbardo, et al., Psychology: Core Concepts (Allyn & Bacon)

Online Resources

These resources, compiled by the CLEP test development committee and staff members, may help you study for your exam. However, none of these sources are designed specifically to provide preparation for a CLEP exam. The College Board has no control over their content and cannot vouch for accuracy.

Score Information

Credit Granting Score for Introductory Psychology

ACE Recommended Score*: 50
Semester Hours: 3

Each institution reserves the right to set its own credit-granting policy, which may differ from that of ACE. Contact your college as soon as possible to find out the score it requires to grant credit, the number of credit hours granted, and the course(s) that can be bypassed with a satisfactory score.

*The American Council on Education’s College Credit Recommendation Service (ACE CREDIT) has evaluated CLEP processes and procedures for developing, administering, and scoring the exams. The score listed above is equivalent to a grade of C in the corresponding course. The American Council on Education, the major coordinating body for all the nation’s higher education institutions, seeks to provide leadership and a unifying voice on key higher education issues and to influence public policy through advocacy, research, and program initiatives. Visit the ACE CREDIT website for more information.