Study Tips for AP Exams


A determined student studies hard for that AP Psychology exam.

Sylvie Call, A & E Editor

The end of the school year is fast approaching, and with the end, AP exams. AP exams are unlike regular school exams; they are longer, sooner, and carry more weight with colleges, with each characteristic adding an extra level of stress on students, especially those who are taking multiple AP classes. Teachers have tips, the internet has superstitions, friends have ideas, but what will really help you prepare for such a stressful testing environment? Listed below are 7 tips to truly help students in this ever-shrinking time period before exams.

Weeks before:

  1. Study! While many may think this is a no-brainer, procrastination often gets the better of students, and they end up not using the time at hand to study well. Use old tests, quizzes, essays, review books, etc. to review material. With old assessments, see what you missed and figure out why you missed it. Figure out what you know and what you’ve forgotten over the course of the year. Spend extra time studying topics you may have forgotten and leave the topics you know well for a shorter review. Don’t try to study for each class on the same day; studying in smaller chunks will make everything more manageable.
  2. If your teacher offers mock AP exams, optional or not, TAKE THEM. Not only do they cover content of the course that you will need to know, but they put you in a testing environment similar to the actual exam. A mock will help you understand the time constraints that you will be under and allow you to learn how to manage your time for the real thing in May. Plus, they’re free, so why not take advantage of them and the valuable feedback they provide?
  3. Take things one day at a time. You can only do so much each day, especially if you have after school activities. Teachers won’t stop giving tests or projects, and sometimes you need to focus on those instead of studying for a test in May. Other times, youmay  just need a break. Everyone has bad days and bad weeks, and you just can’t study. And that’s okay. Give yourself a breather and let today be today and tomorrow be tomorrow.

The night before/day of:

  1. Pack your bag the night before so that you don’t have to worry about forgetting anything. If you know where everything is, you can also probably sleep in a little later. Be sure to pack extra pens, pencils and erasers. If necessary, charge your calculator or replace its batteries, and be sure to bring a water bottle and a small snack.
  2. Get some sleep! You can only study so much the night before; if you don’t know it at that point, it is very unlikely that you’ll know it by morning, so do something that is guaranteed to help you and get a good night’s sleep.
  3. Pace yourself during the actual exam. If you weren’t able to take a practice exam, it will be harder to know how to pace yourself, but knowing beforehand that you will have limited time to answer everything will help. College board won’t take off points for missed questions, so if you find yourself running out of time, go ahead and guess to give yourself a chance at getting it right. Read passages carefully, and don’t be afraid of rereading, but if you get stuck, just guess and move on. If you have time at the end of the section, you can go back to it.
  4. Stay positive! Even if you don’t think that last section went well for you, you have to keep going. Being down on yourself and stressing over what you’ve already finished will only hurt you and your score. Remember that the exams are heavily curved. Once the exam is over, go treat yourself and relax.