Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back to School Shopping for AP Psych

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Greetings, AP Psych Students and Parents!

I hope this message finds you enjoying a pleasant Wisconsin summer. However, according to virtually every retail establishment I’ve visited during the past two weeks, it’s time for back-to-school shopping. Whether that thought excites you or makes you cringe, I figured I’d give you the heads up about what you’ll need for AP Psych. That way, we can streamline your shopping trip (whenever it happens).


  • Be sure to pick up a 3-ring binder for use throughout the year in AP Psych. You’ll need this to keep your notes and handouts organized by topic area. Look for one 1.5 to 2.5 inches in width (3 in is usually too unwieldy to carry in a backpack daily). Note: I do have a number of free binders generously donated by the parent of a former student (her workplace was discarding them). I’ll have them available at textbook pick-up on a first-come, first-served basis. If you want to save some cash, you are welcome to take one at no cost!
  • You’ll also want paper for note-taking (loose-leaf or notebook, your choice). Student preference is the key here: some folks like to use loose-leaf paper so they can insert notes into the binder by topic area, others like keeping their notes all in one notebook (post-it tabs to mark chapters/units can be helpful if going that route). If you like notebooks, be aware that many students fill up their notebooks by spring in AP Psych, so having more than one on hand will help. Also, some students prefer to keep their book notes and class notes separate (not a bad idea), so you’ll want to think about your “system” when shopping.
  • Pens and pencils are going to be necessary. Perhaps this is obvious, but I thought I’d be thorough.

Some students like to purchase these items to assist with their studying and test preparation throughout the year (and prior to the AP Psych Exam). However, they are not required. (Tip: Parents sometimes purchase these as very practical gifts at birthdays and holidays, so you may want to hang on to this for future reference).

  • (New this year) Strive for a 5 Study Guide (cost $30; accompanies the new textbook). This workbook helps students process what they read in the text and practice skills in preparation for unit tests and the AP Psych Exam. I’m very excited about this, because I think it’s a great resource for students! The district provides each student with a copy; HOWEVER (and this is a big drawback, I think), because the district’s copies will be reused from year-to-year, students cannot write in them. That is a bummer, because they are set up like workbooks and would be much easier to use if students could write in them. Because I think that students might be interested in purchasing their own copies (to be able to write in them), I’m happy to organize an order for those who wish to do so. Students will be getting the copies provided by the district at textbook pick-up in mid-August, so you are free to take a look at the item and decide if you’d like to buy your own instead. If you know you would like to order your own, payments will be accepted at that time (then I can hopefully get the order submitted in time for them to arrive for the start of the school year). Depending on interest, I may place a second order in September (if students would like to wait and see how the first unit goes before buying). Unfortunately, the publisher does not have a direct retail website, so all ordering will have to be organized through the school.

  • Additional test-prep book(s). There are a lot of these on the market (and you can find them online or at large book stores in the test-prep section), and are not many differences from one brand to another. Cost is usually $17-20. Some students like using them (especially the practice tests usually found in them) as the AP Exam approaches in the spring, but this is completely a matter of personal preference. If purchasing one of these, be sure to look for the 2014-2015 version, since our curriculum changes slightly this year (and 2013-2014 versions will not be up to date). I’ve got examples of these for viewing (or classroom use), so feel free to take a look at them when you come in for textbook pick-up if you want to see what they are like.

Barron's is just one of the test-prep books available. Princeton Review and 5 Steps to a 5 are also popular.
  • Flash card sets. Like the test-prep books, it’s easy to find these online or at large book stores, and some students appreciate not having to print/make 1000+ flashcards on their own. (Note, however, that online flashcards are linked up to the class website for free;  this would be for folks who like having physical versions on hand for study.) However, if you wait until March or April to buy them, you may have trouble, since they tend to be in high demand as the AP Exam approaches (when, suddenly, 260,000 AP Psych students decide to simultaneously purchase them). Like the test-prep books, I’ve got sample sets for classroom use, so you can peruse them before deciding if it’s worth buying your own.

If you have any questions, feel free to shoot me an email ( or ask when you come in to pick-up your textbook in August. Enjoy the rest of your summer, and happy shopping!

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