AP testing. The two words that make high school students roll their eyes just from hearing them. It is officially April and AP testing starts on May 1, which means that it is grind time for all AP students. One full month of getting ready for hours of testing. An entire year of curriculum jam-packed into one single exam. There is no questioning that these tests are the ultimate stressor for all students enrolled in AP classes.
The College Board, the program behind AP classes, distributes a plethora of resources for students to review prior to the exam, yet many are incredibly inconvenient. Review videos are hard to attend at the timeof their launches, and the multiple choice practice tests go on for pages. These reviews are not helpful and truly do not give you a good way to be fully prepared for the actual test.
“AP is scary. The test would hurt my brain,” senior Josiah Calzi said. Calzi has never taken an AP class before and sees the test as a daunting challenge.
Despite all of the buildup of anxiety around these cumulative tests, they are not nearly as awful as some will have you believe. There are hundreds of tips and tricks to get through the months of AP testing, so buckle up and get ready because I have a few suggestions.
First off: study the whole month in advance. Pick one topic and study it for a night or two in a row. You can go through and study each aspect of an individual section, focusing on one thing at a time. Practice multiple-choice questions, open-ended questions and everything in between. By studying one section at a time, you can better focus on each detail. Skimming through the material only leads to missing simple things and making mistakes that easily could have been avoided. This method is rewarding since it means that you will not leave everything to the last minute, and can get into the nitty gritty of each section.
Mia Alderman, one of Masuk’s seniors, shares her studying plans from last year’s stress as she plans ahead for the upcoming tests, “I always planned on studying at least 1 hour a night for the tests about three weeks prior, but I only really studied two hours for the test the night before. I kept pushing it back because I feel like I did the majority of my studying and reviews during class.”
Like the majority of teenagers, Alderman held off studying until the test was nearing. Although this is effective for some, for others it can be detrimental and not an option to get a passing score.
My second trick is to make sure that you always get sleep. Sleep deprivation is no way to prepare for a test. No matter how late you feel you may need to stay up and study, always make the time to rest. It is necessary to plan to study around school and after-school activities, but it is also important to plan around a healthy sleep schedule. Sleep is crucial for retaining the information you are reviewing.
“I go to bed around ten so I can at least get around eight hours in. I like sleep,” explains senior Izzy Roy. “I feel more awake in the morning to take on my test.”
My third tip is to use Quizlet. Quizlet is a great way to easily review definitions and examples of multiple-choice questions that may appear on the official test. There are Quizlet sets for almost everything, and if you cannot find one, do not stress as they are easy to make.
Quizlet has a variety of ways to help students study from pre-tests to flashcards. Everything on the website is just another way to help engrave studying material into your brain.
Senior Jess Girdvanis is a Quizlet pro who uses the studying tool before almost every test, “Yes it’s my favorite because it has activities to help you study.”
Another trick to help get you through AP testing is to study with friends. Collaborative studying is proven to help due to the idea that you can bounce ideas off of each other. Although this can sometimes be distracting, it is good to hear their explanations of things. For example, a friend might remember the definition of a word with a silly mnemonic device that will help you remember it later.
It is also helpful to study with friends because they might have studied something that you forgot about, and can help to catch you up. Having another person there while you study can help you test yourself on how much you know.
“I did study with friends last year for AP tests, but I don’t think it was as beneficial as when I studied alone,” explains Maya Kunshaft, a Masuk senior in multiple AP classes. Kunshaft does not feel the advantages of studying in a group as she “get [s] more done when I’m by myself and in focused mode.” However, Kunshaft will still study with friends,“I will probably end up studying with friends again this year because it’s more entertaining.” Like all high schoolers, Kunshaft feels studying needs some sort of engagement method and will use group studying for her final AP exams.
AP testing is a challenge for any student. But it does not have to be the reason behind your mental breakdowns. No matter what AP test you are planning on taking, I hope these tips and tricks will help you successfully score high enough to pass!