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Preparing for AP Tests: Must-Knows

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Tue, April 11

Long dreaded exams will occur in May for students enrolled in AP courses. For those planning on taking them, it is recommended to begin studying earlier. Depending on the difficulty of the test and level of memorization, it is wise to begin reviewing course content a month or so before the exam.

First-time exam takers may be worried. There may be questions such as the best ways to study and whether additional prep courses are worth it. The truth is that you do not need to receive AP expert help and pay exorbitant prices to receive a 5. The most effective way to study for AP exams is to study at your own pace and use all the resources given and available.

Review Course Material

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The most important task is to identify areas of focus. What do you need to know for the exam? What are the concepts you struggled with throughout the class?

Were there any topics that were sparsely covered? Especially for courses that cover a wide span of knowledge, it is essential to consider how well you know the material. Take a baseline practice test, either from College Board or one from a review book. After completing the said test, assess your score and decide your focus. Were there any sections of the test you struggled with? What are your weak points? Identify your strengths and weaknesses. A diagnostic test will help determine where you currently stand regarding readiness; it is the first and essential step to beginning to study for AP exams. When taking the said pre-test, it is encouraged to simulate a mock testing environment by keeping track of sections and breaks. Doing so will give you an idea of both the test structure and testing environment.

Make a Study Plan

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Make sure to prepare a study schedule to prepare yourself in time for the exam effectively. Divide your schedule with an emphasis on school studies and a few minutes each day dedicated to APs. Follow your study plan and commit to it.

When should you start studying? It depends on the student. Are you able to effectively study and cram the night before?

Most students aren't. The goal of getting a head start on studying for AP tests is to get used to the types of AP questions, take a number of practice tests, review content, and work on test-taking strategy. Amend your study schedule to focus on your strengths and weaknesses.

Are you struggling with document-based questions or DBQs? Spend a study session improving your skills! When you choose to start studying ultimately depends on your schedule.

How much time are you willing and able to dedicate? Be realistic in creating your schedule. It is important not to forget to prioritize schoolwork over studying for AP exams, which is why getting an earlier start is often done and recommended.

Use Content Review Resources and Practice Exams

Make the most use of available resources, whether course materials or review books. Find content review books that review the information concisely and efficiently. My favorite and go-to are the Princeton Review Premium Prep books. Take the preliminary diagnostic test and review content you missed or are unsure of. Barron's Prep books are a good choice as well, though I believe the Princeton Review covers material more succinctly and condenses it well. Ultimately, this is my preference, and it ultimately depends on the student. Practice exams are your greatest tool, as they are often just like the actual exams but with different questions.

Additional Resources

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These are a few additional resources I have utilized when studying for tests or have heard great things about. One's preferred method of studying depends on the student. Find a resource that you feel caters to your needs and focus.

Whether that be YouTube crash course review videos or multiple choice questions on Khan Academy. Try different ones and see which fits you best!

Stay Motivated

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While easier said than done, it is easy to lose focus. Pace your studies in order to avoid cramming and unnecessary stress. Take breaks and stay committed.

Utilize the resources available to you while also staying motivated. Do not burn yourself out and study over the course of a month instead of cramming the night before. If you are taking multiple exams in one week, limit heavy studying during that time and rest!

The night before the exam, prep your materials the night before and get enough sleep (at least seven hours). Cramming the night before the test can, in actuality, hurt your score and is not an effective strategy for any test.

It is crucial to remember that it is just a test! AP exams are designed to be difficult, and nearly half of all students who take them score a 1 or 2, depending on the test. Colleges will not see it unless you choose to send it. Adequately prepare yourself, exude confidence on exam day, and overall do your best!

Sophia Benito
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Writer since Mar, 2023 · 4 published articles

Sophia Benito is a 16-year-old writer from San Diego. She writes creatively for online teen publications and loves reading.