AP Exams: Preparing for Test Day
Studying for AP Exams Is a Win-Win
The season of AP exams is coming! Daunting AP tests can induce panic in even the best and brightest students who’ve spent an entire year (or more) preparing. While they have no effect on grades, AP exams do offer students the chance to earn college credit without the college price tag: a mere $93 per test. That sounds a bit steep for just one test, but let’s do some math.
Imagine a high school junior with his heart set on attending Baylor University has decided to take the AP English Language and Composition (“AP English 3”) and AP US History (“APUSH”) exams. At a total cost of $186 to test, he has the opportunity to skip two freshman-level courses. That’s 6 credit hours, which ring in at $1,650 apiece at Baylor for the 2017-2018 school year.
That’s $9,900 in tuition saved just by passing two tests! Are you beginning to see the value in being prepared for test day? Here’s a checklist to make sure you’re doing everything you can to score a 4 or 5 and get a head start on college.
Determine What You Know and What You Don’t
When it comes to AP courses, there is a lot of variation based on your school, your teacher, and their syllabus. After enrollment in the course all year, it’s likely there are a lot of things you won’t need to study much because you’ve already learned them. College Board (developer of the AP tests) offers a full course description for every AP course offered, which is a good starting place to assess which areas you’re prepared for and which areas will need more work.
Round Up Your Study Materials
AP exams contain many different types of questions: multiple choice, free response, and DBQ essays. Knowing what to expect on test day can curb a lot of anxiety. While free practice tests can be difficult to find online, there are some old AP exams that have been released by College Board compiled here for you. In addition, AP Study Notes offers study materials for exams such as chapter outlines, exemplary essays, and more practice test questions. Brush up on note-taking to maximize your study time.
Get (and Stay) Organized
Once you have your study materials together, take a look at your calendar. How much time studying, realistically, do you need to fit in between now and your test date? Break this down into manageable, regular study sessions (here are our recommendations for athletes). Use a variety of study techniques that work best for you, such as flashcard reviews, studying with a partner, or making essay outlines. Plan this time into your daily schedule and stay consistent! You will retain more content if you study in this manner instead of trying to cram in the last few days leading up to the test.
Take a practice test under the same conditions as the real deal. Time each section to know if your pace is okay or if there are areas you need to work on. A watch (one that doesn’t beep, of course) can be a good idea if pacing is an area that you struggle with, especially if your test involves long math problems or essay questions.
Be Ready for Test Day
As with any exam, there are things you can do the day of the test that will set you up for success. Remember to get a good night’s sleep before your exam. Dress in layers so you are prepared for a testing room that is too hot or too cold (it is almost guaranteed to be one or the other). Make sure you eat a good breakfast so you aren’t distracted by hunger while you’re trying to think. Bring plenty of pencils and erasers and a spare set of batteries for your calculator, if needed. And since there’s no penalty for guessing, commit to yourself that you’ll move on from problems that you get stuck on. This will ensure that you don’t waste valuable time that could be spent on questions you actually do know the answers to! Finally, brush up on the AP Exam Day Policies so you don’t fall in any traps. Studying for AP Exams can even improve your SAT and ACT scores!