With just over a week until AP Exams begin, high school students across the country are frantically completing their coursework and preparing for the big day. In this blog post, we’ll share a few tips to aid in last-minute studying, as well as some reminders for Exam Day.
A quick internet search of terms including “AP exam,” “study,” “review,” and “tips” yields millions of results. Below are some of the most common tips from AP experts.
- Use practice questions and exams. The types of questions on the AP Exam may be unfamiliar to you, and knowing the material is not necessarily enough to earn a high score on the exam. The College Board offers practice questions on their website, including actual questions from previous years’ exams, and many test prep books and websites have developed their own practice questions.
- In addition to using these materials to test your knowledge and familiarity with content and question types, you can set up a “mock exam” experience with timing, breaks, etc. so you’re more comfortable on Exam Day.
- Review the Course Description document for details about the exam and the evaluation rubric. Each AP Course has its own Course Description; for example, see the AP English Language Course Description. Each Course Description can be accessed from the relevant subject’s Course page. This document also contains additional practice questions!
- The Exam description within this document can also help you focus your studying — it’s not important that you know every single fact you learned in class; instead, you’ll want to master the topics that are emphasized on the exam. Especially in the Free Response section, exam readers will be looking for synthesis of big concepts rather than just regurgitation of facts.
- Study selectively. At this point, you definitely don’t have time to review every single topic covered over the course of the year. However, I bet there are topics you feel pretty confident about, as well as areas in which you struggle. For your last-minute studying, focus primarily on those areas of weakness. See this US News article for more tips.
Exam Day Reminders
Just like the ACT or SAT, AP Exams are strictly monitored and there are important rules of which to be aware.
- Know what you can (and cannot) bring into the exam. Carefully review these lists to make sure you are following the rules. Also check out the calculator policy for relevant courses (including most math and science courses).
- Review the Bulletin for AP Students and Parents. Before you can take the AP Exam, you’ll be asked to sign your answer sheet indicating agreement and compliance with the policies and procedures outlined therein. It also gives you an idea of what to expect when you arrive for your exam.
- Eat a good breakfast! Most exams take two to three hours, and they require mental and physical endurance. Prepare yourself the best way possible by fueling your body and mind.
- Answer all the multiple-choice questions. You won’t be penalized for incorrect answers, so it is to your benefit to take a guess if you’re not sure on a question. By answering, you give yourself a chance to get it right — usually a one-in-four or better!
You have worked hard over the past year, and now’s your chance to demonstrate what you’ve learned and possibly earn some college credit in the process. Simply taking the AP Exam is a great experience, and if you take advantage of these tips you’ll set yourself up for success!