AP test month can be one of the most stressful periods in your entire high school career. Unlike regular tests AP exams demand a year’s worth of information from you. The best way to handle the overwhelming stress is to be prepared for what is coming. I have taken many AP courses and have found some of the more efficient ways of studying along with the methods that are not beneficial.
Perhaps the most important variable to consider when studying is making a clear cut schedule for studying that aligns up with your AP test day. For example, for history or science based tests designating a certain time block to study each unit a day is very helpful. Personally, about a month out from my AP world exam I started studying half a unit every single day. This way revisiting information is not overwhelming when test time comes.
Now that you have a set time for studying it is very important how you spend that time you have created for yourself. I have personally found that simply rereading a textbook and labeling that time spent as studying is not efficient when trying to remember information from an entire year. If you are someone who enjoys using notes to study rather than just rereading them add an extra layer. First look at the topic for the section and try to recall all the information you can about that topic. Next read the page/pages of notes. Lastly, and most importantly, outloud recall all of the information that you just reread without looking at your notes. Doing so stimulates your brain to try and read the information rather than simply forgetting the info minutes later.
When studying for history and science based tests there is so much information that no one can remember every single detail. So, when reviewing try to focus more on patterns that you recognize or different relationships. It is important to remember the college board does not just test you on verbatim facts that you have learned. The test evaluates you on different thinking processes so you have to be able to understand different relationships between time periods or scientific concepts.
Now for the English based tests such as AP Lang one of the best tips I got was to focus on the News. At first I did not understand how this would be helpful. But, for some AP tests you must write papers where evidence comes straight from your brain, no documents. On these occasions you have to think of different important events in history to make your argument. Therefore, listening and keeping up with the news a month before testing seasons can provide you with great relevant evidence to incorporate into your essays.
For some people, the hardest part of preparing for such a demanding test is getting the motivation to actually sit down and review. For these people, I recommend getting a study partner. As cheesy as that sounds it can be beneficial for those lacking motivation. Having someone that is supposed to study with you every day holds both your partner and yourself accountable to actually reviewing. Your partner does not need to be studying for the same AP, but having someone who is also preparing can force you to sit down and just begin. If you have a close friend you can study over facetime or at the library(considering after COVID). Other ways are finding study discords servers or zoom servers that are offered online where you can study with other people with the same goals as yourself.
Thank you so much for this post! With finals and AP’s coming up, this will definitely help with all of the studying that has to be done.
This was very insightful for me, and it gave me an idea of what AP’s may be like. Thank you for all the tips and information!