A Guide to Preparing for AP exams

A Guide to Preparing for AP exams

Photo by: College Board

How can you get ready to be successful on AP exams coming up? Here are a few pointers.

    AP exams are approaching sooner than it may feel. Doing well on your AP exams can help you get into college, and even earn you college credits. As AP classes are more similar to college classes than academic classes, they’re a great resource to help you get used to difficult college courses. 

    The first question that may be asked is: When should I begin studying for my AP exams? There isn’t really a clear answer to this question, as everyone is different. There isn’t an exact time frame, but “The goal is to give yourself enough time to get used to AP question types, take a few practice tests, review content, and hone your test-taking strategy,” as maintained by The Princeton Review.

    It may be difficult to pace yourself when you begin studying. A great option is to take about 15 minutes of your time to create a study schedule. As per CollegeXpress, “It doesn’t have to be perfectly color-coordinated and covered with stickers to be effective either. Having a simple schedule where you practice AP English Literature free-response questions (FRQs) every Saturday at 10:00 am is perfectly fine as long as it matches your schedule and helps you learn.”

    One of the most important steps in earning a great AP exam score is taking good notes. One great way to take notes is by creating sketchnotes. According to Rohdesign, “sketchnotes are rich visual notes created from a mix of handwriting, drawings, hand-lettering, shapes, and visual elements like arrows, boxes, and lines.” 

    While this manner of note-taking may require a bit more work than simply typing or writing words, it’s shown to be quite helpful. As stated by VerbaltoVisual, “it results in a fully engaged brain. By weaving sketches and diagrams into the note-taking process you’re tapping into both the verbal and visual processing powers of your brain.” Sketchnoting is certainly a tactic that should be taken into consideration.

    Once you’ve got your notes, it’s important to look over past material all the way back to the beginning of the school year. The Princeton Review recommends to “Set aside 15 minutes or so each evening to review past work. Refreshing your memory on a regular basis is the best strategy for effective learning.” Since the AP exam is the culmination of everything learned within the school year, it’s very important to review.

    Once you feel that you’ve thoroughly reviewed all material covered, taking AP practice tests can be very helpful. While there are many organizations that make these practice tests, College Board is the most reliable, as they write the AP exams. “As a result, their materials will be most similar to the real AP test you’ll take in the spring,” according to PrepScholar.

    One of your best resources is your teacher on the subject, but it’s important not to rely on them too heavily. The Princeton Review states that “there often isn’t enough time during class to teach the material AND do a thorough review by May.” It’s up to you to study and ensure your own success. 

    While notes are arguably the most important materials in studying for an AP exam, investing in an AP prep book is another good idea. As said by The Princeton Review, “A great test prep book will help you review essential content, introduce you to test format and question types, and help you practice for the big day.” In addition to helping you prepare for AP exams, AP prep books can help you succeed throughout the entire school year.

    A resource that may not be well-known is that there are AP tutors. The Princeton Review maintains that “AP tutors are fantastic at helping students prep for AP tests.” These tutors are highly knowledgeable and may be just the thing to guide you to receive a great AP exam score.

    The night before taking the AP exam can be nerve wracking. However, it’s important to get as much rest as possible before any challenging test. The last piece of advice I have to offer is, when the time comes, take a deep breath and know that you’ve done your best to ensure you earn a stellar AP exam score.