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How to Study for AP Exams
Are you feeling overwhelmed by upcoming AP exams? With the right study tips, you can turn this challenge into an opportunity to showcase your knowledge and receive college credit. Whether you are a first time or seasoned AP-test taker, our expert tips will help you prepare for the AP exam effectively! Keep reading to learn how to take your AP exam studying to the next level!
What are AP exams?
AP exams are standardized tests that measure what you have learned throughout your AP class. You can then use the scores from these AP exams to place out of classes in college and to improve your college applications.
Related: What are AP classes? Everything you need to know
When should you begin studying for AP exams?
Most students begin studying for AP exams anywhere from one to three months before the exam day. Ideally, a student should be preparing for an AP exam months before the exam date. Studying earlier will allow for enough time to review all of the material and work on identifying areas of weakness.
However, the ideal amount of time a student needs to prepare for an AP exam depends on various factors, such as the students familiarity with the subject matter and the difficulty level of the exam. Some students may need more time to prepare than others.
Also see: Why you should take advanced placement tests?
Top 5 tips for studying for AP Exams
1. Make a study plan
A study plan will help you stay organized and focused. When creating a study plan, start by breaking down the material into smaller and more manageable chunks. Then, you should allocate study time to each section based on your strengths and weaknesses. For example, you should spend more time studying challenging material and less time on areas you are already an expert in.
A study plan can help you stay on track with your studying. It can also help to ensure you are hitting all of the course material over time rather than cramming at the last minute. With a study plan in place, you can reduce stress around the exam because you know that you have a plan to cover the important material. With a well-organized study plan, you will increase your chance of success on AP exams.
Related: How do you pay for AP exams?
2. Find content review resources
It is important to use high-quality study materials and review resources in order to prepare for the AP exam. These can include textbooks, review books, online resources and practice exams. You should look for materials that cover the most important topics in depth and provide clear explanations and examples. Be sure to check out the many free AP exam practice resources offered by the College Board.
Also see: How many AP classes should you take in high school?
3. Take practice exams
One of the best ways to prepare for an AP exam is to practice actually taking AP exams! Taking practice AP Exams will help you become familiar with the exam format, time management and the types of questions you will most likely encounter on your exam. Practice exams can also help you identify weak areas which can help you target these weaker areas while you study. The Princeton Review offers free full length practice tests so you can get used to the format and timing.
You should be taking these practice AP exams under simulated testing conditions. Meaning, you should allot yourself the same amount of time for each section as the AP Exam does. Do not allow yourself to give in to distractions so you get the most out of your practice exam experience.
Also see: How do I get an AP fee reduction?
4. Avoid cramming
Consistent review is essential for retaining and building a strong knowledge of the course material. Make sure you are reviewing your notes and practice exams regularly in order to keep it fresh in your mind. It is better to practice for a little bit of time daily rather than all at once the night before! Consistent review will help you build confidence, reduce stress, and prepare you for success on your AP exams.
5. Familiarize yourself with the exam format
Understanding the AP exam format is critical for developing an effective way of studying. You should familiarize yourself with the types of questions that will be present on the exam, such as multiple-choice or short-answer, as well as how much time is allotted for each section. Understanding the exam format will help you identify the most important topics to study as well as get a sense of how to pace yourself during the AP exam.
Top 5 tips for the night before the AP exam
The night before an AP exam can be an extremely stressful time for many students. There are simple, totally doable things you can do to fuel your mind and body. Follow these tips to help you prepare for your AP exam:
1. Review your notes
Take some time to briefly review some of your main notes and AP exam materials. This should be a brief look over of your materials with a focus on key concepts and main ideas.
2. Organize your materials
Gather all the materials you will need for the exam. This could include your ID, calculator (if needed), pencils, and erasers. Double-check that you have everything you need the night before to ensure you are not rushing or panicking the morning of your exam.
3. Eat a healthy meal
Eating a nutritious dinner will help provide you with the necessary energy to sustain focus on your AP Exam the next morning. Enjoy a well-balanced meal of carbs, protein, and plenty of veggies. Also, a favorite dessert will go a long way to make you feel special!
All of your hard work will pay off soon! Therefore, aside from a brief material review and gathering your exam day necessities, relax and do something you truly enjoy. This will help reduce stress levels and help you sleep more soundly.
5. Get a good night’s rest!
It is so important to get at least 7-8 hours of sleep the night before the AP exam. A good night’s rest will enhance your cognitive functioning, reduce stress levels, and improve alertness for AP exam day. The night before the AP exam is not the best time to pull an all-nighter to study. Rather, it should be a restful night to ensure you are at your best for the exam.
Additional AP exam resources
Find out how AP credit works so that you can plan for your academic future. Most students find that some AP classes are more challenging than others. Learn which AP classes are known as the “hardest” and whether or not you have to take the AP exam if you take an AP class. Read our guide about understanding your AP scores and what happens if you fail an AP Exam.
Frequently asked questions about how to study for AP Exams
Can I take an AP Exam without taking the AP class?
How early should I start studying for an AP Exam?
Should I take a prep course for an AP Exam?
Should I study with a group or alone for an AP Exam?
How are AP Exams scored?
How important are AP Exam scores for college?
Can I retake an AP Exam?