How to Prepare for AP Exams

How to Prepare for AP Exams

Doesn’t it seem like the year went extremely slow but simultaneously flew by? It’s hard to believe that the dreaded AP exams are less than two months away. Some students fear these tests because of the complex material, some feel out of practice taking these exams because of the alterations made to the test at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and some students have simply never taken an AP exam before. No matter which group you are part of, these tips will help ease your mind about your upcoming AP exam(s) and outline how to prepare for the big day.

Where do I start?

To avoid cramming, you should begin studying 1-2 months before your exam. Of course, this duration can be varied based on your academic strengths, how much material you need to review, and how comfortable you are with the given material.

Create a study schedule

Take 15 to 20 minutes to write up a study schedule for at least one month out, it doesn’t have to be anything fancy but make sure to incorporate all of the main details. Include the times you’ll be studying, what subject you’ll study, and the type of practice you’ll complete. Most exams have a multiple-choice and writing/free-response section so be sure to include those as your specific tasks (the type of practice) on your schedule.

For example, your schedule could read that on March 16th, at 11:30 AM you’ll do 45 AP Psychology multiple-choice questions, and then at 12:15 PM, you’ll do an AP Psychology free-response question. The schedule will be much more effective if you personalize it. It may be nice to have one friend create a schedule for the whole friend group, but in the end, it will be less helpful because everyone’s study needs and study habits are different. Make your schedule so that you are studying during your most productive times and work your study schedule around your existing schedule so that you can stay on track.

Old material first

You can be tested on any tiny detail you’ve learned from September until the end of the curriculum, but there is no need to be worried. If you set aside 15-20 minutes each night to review old material, when it comes time to study everything, you’ll recall much more information because you refreshed little by little.

Practice in a test-like environment

Practice makes perfect… or practice makes prepared. When taking a practice exam, time yourself and clear your desk of distractions to create the most realistic testing environment you can. When you’re taking the test, you will have nothing on your desk besides the test booklet, a pencil/pen, and possibly a calculator, so mimic this setup and you won’t be caught off guard on test day.

Be self-reliant

Your teachers are there to help you and cover all the required material, but ultimately, you must be in charge of your study efforts. Most teachers will hold review sessions before the exam but based on your strengths and weaknesses, you may need to review a certain chapter more in-depth.

Buy a review book

There are a plethora of affordable review books on the market that help you review important content and help you prepare for your test(s). These review books not only remind you of important information, but they will also provide test-taking strategies and even practice tests and activities.

Use AP practice materials

The AP/CollegeBoard website is full of study materials. Almost every test ever administered is on the website with the answers and explanations. Also, this website has a place called My AP where your teacher can unlock multiple-choice (graded after submitting) and writing practice (graded by the instructor) to help you prepare. Advanced Placement also has a Youtube channel in which some of the best AP teachers from around the country review the most important topics and ideas in each AP class.

Use the internet

AP exams are a big deal and people take them very seriously. Therefore, you can find a large number of explanations or review videos in about 10 seconds upon searching.

Need a tutor

AP review books and the internet can be great resources, but if you’re looking for something a bit more personalized, a tutor might be the right option for you. If you are struggling in an AP course or simply want to improve your chances of scoring higher on an exam, Miles Smart Tutoring offers an affordable and flexible one-on-one tutoring opportunity that is unique to each student’s needs. If you want to be successful on your upcoming AP exams, now is the time to start preparing. Best of luck!