What’s the Hype About AP Psych?


Photo by Veronica White

Hamilton preparing to teach AP Psych. AP Psych classes are very organized and structured. “Each and every year, we revise what we teach by continuing to find examples and activities that are likely to engage our students,” Hamilton said.

Maura Souza studies for an upcoming AP Psych exam (Photo by Veronica White)

Over half of the senior class takes AP Psychology (AP Psych).

Many may wonder: why is it so popular?

Two teachers teach the course: Mr. Michael Hamilton and Ms. Jennifer Griffey. It is only open to seniors.

“We consistently have 180-200 seniors taking this class, making it the largest AP at HHS as well as the largest elective,” said Hamilton, who has taught AP Psych at the school since 2005. “There really hasn’t been much of a change in our numbers. It has been fairly consistent for the better part of a decade now.”

Hamilton offered some reasons why he thinks the course is so popular.

“I think Psychology naturally interests people because it is a class about people. Gaining insight into yourself and those around you is something that I think most students feel is a worthwhile investment of their time,” he said.

Additionally, Hamilton believes Psychology is “the most important course a student can take in high school.”

Maura Souza says she mainly takes AP Psych because it is unlike the average humanities class.

“I think it’s a topic you can compare to your daily life,” she said. “I learned a lot about myself in the class—especially about topics I didn’t know anything about.”

Another unique feature of the course is unique to HHS. The textbook was actually co-authored by Hamilton himself. He completed it in 2011 along with Mr. Michael Sullivan, who had previously taught AP Psych at this school.

“We spent a year going through the writing process to develop a textbook that fit our teaching styles,” Hamilton recalled.

AP Psych is based on a myriad of topics. This ranges from learning about one’s personality to analyzing the meaning of dreams.

The class is also reputed to be the easiest AP available, which also skyrockets its enrollment. While getting a good grade in an AP class can significantly boost a student’s GPA, AP test scores can both strengthen an application and be used to get college credits.

The AP Psych textbook is used for review, notes, and homework. (Photo by Veronica White)

This is appealing to seniors, most of who will do almost anything to increase their chances of admission to their top college choices.

“I just did it because I wanted to increase my GPA,” Ellie Benge said.

Be aware, however: while some AP classes are more commonly accepted as “difficult” than others, all of them require a lot of diligence.

Souza follows a strict study routine before every test. This includes rewriting notes, re-reading the current chapter from the AP Psych textbook, and answering practice questions.

“You have to do a lot of things to prepare for the tests. They are no joke,” she said.

Fortunately, most students find the course rigor manageable. In fact, it motivates them to strive for strong performance.

“I thought it would be challenging for me, and that’s the main reason I took it,” Emma Canestrari said.

At the end of the day, AP Psych serves the same general purpose as any class: to prepare students for the future.

“Psych teaches students how to take good notes and develop good study habits that will transfer onto college,” Souza remarked.

AP Psych is an opportunity to learn new things about yourself and the others around you, boost your GPA, and challenge yourself academically.

So, ask yourself now: is AP Psych worth the hype?