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How to Prepare for AP Exams

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    Preparing for AP exams can feel overwhelming. Especially if you’re a high school freshman studying for your first AP class, or if you’re a high school junior trying to study for multiple exams. May is a stressful time of year for high schoolers. In addition to studying for AP exams, students may need to study for the SAT, review course material for their finals, and complete final projects. This is why knowing how to study for AP exams is so important. 

    Whether you’re looking for a study guide for the AP Environmental Science exam or a study guide for the AP Psychology exam, we’ve got you covered! In addition to providing you with valuable study resources, we’ll also review how to study for an AP exam in general, by discussing how to create an individualized study plan and schedule. 

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    5 Steps for acing your AP exams

    Creating an effective study plan can feel overwhelming. With some strategic planning, however, you can set yourself up for success. The key is to start early, create a schedule that works for you, and identify your ideal learning style. Read on for valuable study tips for AP exams!

    01

    Plan ahead

    studying for AP exams First, plan ahead. Start studying several months in advance. Outline topics you’ll need to cover and break them into manageable sections. For instance, maybe you allot a week to study each chapter in your AP test prep book. Or maybe you spend a few days reviewing each of your teacher’s powerpoint presentations. Regardless of what your individual study plan may look like, the most important thing is to make sure that it has some sort of meaningful organizational method.

    If you’re a high school senior applying to college, planning ahead for your AP exams will be even more important. Check out our article, College Planning Timeline for 12th Grade Students for more information about how you should be spending your time, month-by-month, during your senior year. 

    First, plan ahead. Start studying several months in advance. Outline topics you’ll need to cover and break them into manageable sections. For instance, maybe you allot a week to study each chapter in your AP test prep book. Or maybe you spend a few days reviewing each of your teacher’s powerpoint presentations. Regardless of what your individual study plan may look like, the most important thing is to make sure that it has some sort of meaningful organizational method.

    If you’re a high school senior applying to college, planning ahead for your AP exams will be even more important. Check out our article, College Planning Timeline for 12th Grade Students for more information about how you should be spending your time, month-by-month, during your senior year. 

    studying for AP exams

    02

    Review old tests and quizzes

    The key to knowing how to prepare for AP exams is to identify areas where you need extra focus. A good way to do this is to review old tests and assignments and focus on the sections where you lost points. While it’s important to be holistic in your study approach, you’ll want to allot extra time to challenging topics that you’ve struggled with in the past. Remember, the goal is to reinforce knowledge, so do your best to periodically review course material throughout the course of the year. This will prevent you from having to cram for the exam last minute. Consistent, thoughtful practice is the key to acing your AP exams.

    03

    Familiarize yourself with the test format

    Familiarize yourself with the structure and types of questions for each exam. This will prevent surprises on test day. Use official College Board practice questions and tests to get comfortable with the exam format. Time yourself when doing practice tests to simulate the real testing experience. Remember, each subject has a different type of test. That means that your AP Biology exam prep will be very different from knowing how to study for your AP US history exam.

    For more information about AP classes, check out our articles, How Many AP Classes Should You Be Taking? and List of AP Classes and Highest Passing Rates

    04

    Create a study plan

    While some students benefit from using flashcards and rewriting their notes, others prefer to talk through concepts out loud or to try to teach someone else about a key concept. There are no right or wrong ways to study. It all depends on what works best for you. 

    Maybe you prefer studying with a group. Or maybe you prefer studying alone where you can concentrate uninterrupted. Again, there isn’t just one way to study! The most important thing is to hold yourself accountable. Form study groups, enlist peer tutors, and meet with teachers if you need extra help. Stay organized and don’t allow yourself to fall behind!

    Consider some of the CollegeBoard study resources to help you design your ideal study plan:

    05

    Don’t overly rely on your teacher

    Wondering how to study for your AP World History exam? Or just want to know how to prepare for an AP test in general? One of the keys to acing your AP exams is to put in enough study hours. This may seem obvious, but it’s important to remember. Yes, participating and being engaged in class is important, but your teacher’s job is to cover AP course material — not to help you study. Acing an AP exam is a two-fold approach: staying focused and engaged during class and studying for the AP exam on your own.

    List of AP study resources

    Some AP study guides will be physical books, while others will be free to access online. Whether you are looking for a study guide for AP Biology exam, a study guide for AP Statistics exam, or a AP Chemistry exam study guide, there are plenty of AP study guides to choose from! 

    Check out the 5 AP study resources listed below for more information on how to prepare for an AP. Keep in mind that these resources will be even more important if you have self study AP classes.

    How to prepare for the day of your AP exam

    In addition to practicing good study habits, you’ll want to know what to expect on the day of your actual AP exam. After all, being physically and mentally prepared will play a key role in your success.

     Make sure that you get a good night’s sleep the evening before. Being well-rested will help you concentrate better. Eat a healthy breakfast and pack some healthy snacks and a water bottle to take with you to the exam. Most AP exams will have a 10 minute break in between sections. 

    The night before the exam, gather any permitted testing materials so they’re ready to go in the morning. Arrive early at the exam location so you have time to settle in and relax before the exam begins.

    Understanding AP test scores

    AP test scores range from 1 to 5, with 5 being the highest score. Generally, a 3 or higher is considered passing and may qualify you for college credit. That being said, some colleges only award college credit for scores 4 or higher. 

    Typically, AP test scores are available in July. Keep in mind that the deadline to send free AP score reports is June 20th. For more information about AP test scores meaning and availability, visit the CollegeBoard’s website.

    Key takeaways and moving forward

    AP classes AP exams are an important way to demonstrate your ability to thrive in college-level classes while potentially earning college credit. After all, college admissions officers value students who are willing to challenge themselves academically by taking advanced classes. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to study for an AP Psychology test or how to study for the AP Chemistry exam, there are plenty of resources out there to help you ace your exams. 

    In the meantime, if you’re interested in other ways of earning college credit while in high school, check out our article, What Is Dual Enrollment in High School?. You might also be interested in some of our other blog posts, including: Full-Time vs Part-Time College Students: What’s the Difference? and What are the differences between IB, AICE, and AP classes?.  

    AP exams are an important way to demonstrate your ability to thrive in college-level classes while potentially earning college credit. After all, college admissions officers value students who are willing to challenge themselves academically by taking advanced classes. Whether you’re trying to figure out how to study for an AP Psychology test or how to study for the AP Chemistry exam, there are plenty of resources out there to help you ace your exams. 

    In the meantime, if you’re interested in other ways of earning college credit while in high school, check out our article, What Is Dual Enrollment in High School?. You might also be interested in some of our other blog posts, including: Full-Time vs Part-Time College Students: What’s the Difference? and What are the differences between IB, AICE, and AP classes?.  

    AP classes

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