Photo courtesy of Bridgette Roberts
It is finally that dreaded time of year: no holidays until spring break, a long stretch of nonstop school, and also time to buy those AP tests and start studying. As these notorious AP tests are approaching, it is essential to consider what makes a successful AP test taker. Do not stress out about studying just yet; these simple yet effective study tips will help jump start that AP test studying process so that not everyone is all cramming last minute.
#1) Start early
This is the most important piece of advice for studying for the AP tests because the worst thing you can do is procrastinate. Obviously, everyone has done it before, but when it comes to the massive AP tests, do not wait until the last minute to start studying. A good starting point is at least a month before the test. Every day from then on, review a chapter or some of the material bit by bit. This way, it will stay fresh in your mind.
#2) Make a Plan
Start now by creating a plan, because failing to plan is planning to fail. A successful AP student needs to know exactly what to know for the test, how he or she is going to learn it, and the method of studying to use.
#3) Learn the Questions
Familiarize yourself with the different types of questions that appear on the test. Along with multiple-choice, there are usually free-response questions (FRQs) on the test. These consist of either short-answer questions or long-answer questions or even both, depending on the test. Walking into a test knowing what you will face will allow you to prepare for anything that will be thrown at you.
#4) Review, Review, Review!
Once you have hit that mark when all the new content has been covered in class and it is time to start preparing for the actual exam, start reviewing ASAP. Review allows you to dust off the cobwebs and refresh your memory about material you learned in the first half of the year and do not remember as well. This can only benefit you in the end. Whatever you do, do not waste time. In the home stretch of an AP student’s school year, time is extremely valuable.
#5) Practice, Practice, Practice!
Another great study tip is taking practice tests. Whether at school or at home, practice tests are the most realistic form of studying since it not only prepares you for the content but also the test itself. There are released past AP exams on the College Board website that are beneficial to browse through. Starting weeks before the actual exam, take as many practice tests as possible under realistic testing settings. By doing this, you learn what you need to review more content wise and what you need to improve upon test taking wise. Indeed, you will quickly learn how to pace yourself efficiently and not run out of time.
#6) Review Essay Prompts
In order to prepare for those long and exhausting FRQs, practice with old essay prompts on the College Board website or just some that you create. Brainstorm, make a thesis, outline your thoughts before you begin writing the essay, and then work on creating an organized and thoughtful written piece. Remember, quality is always better than quantity when it comes to FRQs.
#7) Study with Friends
One of the most effective ways to study is by working in a small group of your peers. Without a doubt, you learn best when challenged by intelligent, like-minded people in your classes who also want to pass the AP test. Lindsey Kitchen (12) stated, “One of my favorite ways to study for AP tests is to review with a bunch of friends in study group sessions. As long as you stay focused, it is a great way to review.”
After using these study tips to the best of your ability, do not worry. Think about how much studying and hard work you have already put into these AP classes throughout the entire year. You are amazing, and you are going to kill it. I can feel it.