Five steps to getting a five on the AP Exam!

By Dana Zamat

Spring is coming, and we all know what that means: the AP exams are approaching. All those times you crammed the night before for that AP US History test, or that essay that you had your friend help you write for AP English – they will come back to bite you in the butt. But, have no fear! The Oracle is here to provide you some simple steps as to how to prepare for those dreaded AP exams!

  1. Create a Schedule

Having taken the AP World Exam last year, I can confidently vouch that the best study strategy that I personally employed for the AP exam was creating a schedule about a month in advance. I recommend you give yourself more time than just a month before the exam, because that way, you’ll be able to fully understand the concepts instead of just mindlessly memorizing. Simply put aside a few hours every week to go over the curriculum that you learned, beginning with the topics you learned at the start of the year. Keep in mind that you will, most likely, only need to skim the information that you’re currently learning now for the AP exam, since it is so fresh in your head! Also, while creating this schedule, put aside time for actually taking a practice exam under timed conditions. This way, on the actual test day, you will be less anxious since you have already taken the test in the same conditions.

  1. Scan over the rubric and format of the test

By doing this, you will truly understand what the exam is testing for. For example, last year, although the AP World exam forced me to learn facts and statistics, I found that it, more broadly, tested me on my ability to make connections between different time periods. By knowing this information beforehand, I was able to base my studying around this format.

  1. Buy a review book

Although this isn’t necessarily required, I believe buying a review book will only be to your advantage. I have found that the review books that are sold in typical bookstores, such as Barnes and Nobles, are easy reads yet dense with information. Taking notes in the margins of these books and simply highlighting the passages was very helpful for me to remember the curriculum. Some brands that I recommend are: The Princeton Review, Barron’s Review, and Kaplan Test Prep.

  1. Ask your teachers any clarifying questions

After going through the time period or a general division of the course, ask your teacher any clarifying questions. Any doubts that you may have should go directly to the teacher. This way, not only will you solidify the information, but you will also save yourself more studying in the future.

  1. Find a study group

I have also found that studying in a group is very helpful. Finding a study group and going through some of the material together is beneficial. Talking through some of the problems or questions will help you understand and comb through the topics. Meeting on a weekly basis, or even a couple times a month will allow you to hear your peers’ ideas and get extra clarification.

And those are my five easy steps! Remember to breathe and to avoid putting too much pressure on yourself. You have come so far into the year already, and you clearly have the abilities to take these AP exams, given your success in your current AP course. We have spectacular teachers here at The Hills, and they want nothing but for you to succeed. Good luck!