AP exams take its prolonged seat through the first two weeks of May, which means studying begins now. How do you remember everything from a course that began nine months ago? Well, certainly not by cramming. It’s the beginning of April, the perfect time to efficiently study and prepare for the AP exams, and these are some tips to guide you to a 5.
1. Know the exams you are taking
AP exams present itself in a variety of formats. Take for example, AP United States History. APUSH exams are composed of short-answer, document-based, multiple choice, and long-essay questions. Unlike APUSH, AP Language and Composition exams are comprised of three long-essays and a multiple choice section. Knowing your respective exam, its structure, directions, and grading criteria, should be the first critical step for you to take. The time limit and number of questions vary for each test as well, so be aware!
2. Have a study routine for each exam
Throughout the year, as you studied for the AP courses in class and at home, you probably discovered your strengths and weaknesses. Make sure to sort your priorities based on how comfortable you feel with the subject, especially if you take more than one AP course. Don’t end up wasting time studying for something that you already know; invest your time smartly.
Spend a few minutes each day for the relatively easy APs. Studying over an interval was proven to be an efficient way of learning, so start early and try to use your leisure time on the bus or while waiting for a meal to review previous concepts or notes. For the more rigorous APs, put aside a separate session for you to study solely on that subject. Of course, a ridiculously lengthy period would be brain-throbbing. People tend to lose concentration after thirty minutes, so build a schedule that includes a short break every so often. In addition to that, studying the same subject for too long reduces memorization and concentration levels. Spice things up by changing the subject of your study every hour or so.
In conclusion, plan a weekly schedule that you can stick to, a smart schedule that considers the APs from your perspective and involves nothing unrealistic.
3. Buy AP preparation books
It’s not a waste of money. AP prep books are basically a compilation, a summary, of everything that you learned from the beginning of the curriculum. Of course, the best way to use prep books is to start reading through it from the start of the school year. But if you haven’t done that, it’s not too late to purchase it now. Again, don’t study for something that you are familiar with. Read, highlight, and annotate the sections that you truly need to review. Plus, prep books include practice tests, a terribly important resource.
Renowned preparation books come from companies including Barrons, Kaplan, The Princeton Review, 5 Steps to a 5, and CliffsAP.
4. Look for appropriate study resources
Along with the AP prep books, extend your range of resources by looking online. Youtube provides videos on a numerous number of subjects, varying from AP Biology to AP US History. Extra practice questions can be discovered from a single Google search, so embrace it.
Check out these two youtubers!
5. Use smart studying techniques
Reading prep books, to be honest, is not the most efficient way of studying. Of course, if you are yet unfamiliar with a topic, reading and absorbing the information is a must. As mentioned before, highlight, annotate, take notes if you must, but make sure to read interactively.
Otherwise, try finding a more interesting, engaging way of studying. For the sake of reviewing, using note cards is great. Make diagrams, read books, watch videos, use mnemonics, do whatever matches the subject of your AP and suits you!
6. Take practice exams
This is a must. If one wants to excel in a sport, what does he or she do? He or she will most likely practice playing the sport. The same concept applies here. We’re preparing for an AP exam. The obvious thing to do would be to practice taking the exam. Prep books and the Internet are both widely available resources that can supply you with more than enough practice exams, example questions, and answer keys.
7. Find help if you need it
If you fell behind the AP class or you just can’t grasp the concepts, seek help. Whether it be a tutor, hagwon, or teachers at school, if you have the ambition to score highly on the test, there are also people who are willing to help.
Hopefully, the seven tips will help you grow closer to a 5. Stay strong and persevere throughout all of April, and before you know it, the hellish month of AP preparations will be over and summer break will be awaiting.
– Becky Yang (’16)