How To Prep For AP Exams
May 06, 2012
Over the next two weeks, close to 2 million students will be taking the College Board Advanced Placement (AP) exams. Covering subjects ranging from Art History to Macroeconomics to Statistics, AP exams (and their corresponding AP classes) give high school students opportunities to take rigorous classes while earning college credit by successfully passing the exams.
Here are some pointers to help you get through the next two weeks of grueling exams:
1. Read over the official Course Description booklets
The College Board has course booklets for each of its AP exams. Browsing over the course booklet is a great way to ensure that your AP class teacher or your prep books have not missed any big topics that the college board has designated as part of the AP exam. The booklets also outline rules for each exam, such as the policies for calulator use on the mathematics AP exams (calculators with QWERTY keyboards are not allowed). See the Calculus AB Course Description as an example of the great information that is provided for each AP exam.
2. Get enough sleep and be mentally prepapred
AP exams take up half a day, and you have to be able to sit down and focus for 3 to 4 hours. If you're scheduled to take two exams on the same day, such as U.S. History in the morning followed by European History in the afternoon, it is even more important to be well-rested for the full day's worth of testing. Avoid caffeine late at night if you know drinking coffee or tea makes you restless. Wear comfortable clothing for the exams, as you won't be allowed to leave your testing room. It's already a challenge trying to remember all the antiderivatives and limit rules for that Calculus AB exam, so keep all distractions to a minimum. The exams rated the hardest are often U.S. History, Physics, and Spanish, so be very well prepared if you are taking any of those three tests.
3. Bring your supplies
The AP exams' multiple choice sections require you to bubble in answers on a scantron, so have plenty of pencils on hand! For the free-response sections, bring pens as well, so your writing can be clear and easy to read. Legibility may not be part of the official grading rubric, but you still want to make it as easy as possible for your graders to read that essay you sweated over. Lastly, bring a watch to wear or to simply put on your desk. You may not be familiar with your testing room's layout (clock? no clock?), and being able to keep track of time will help your pacing through each section. Once a section is finished, you are not allowed to go back, so giving each question a serious attempt is important.
More than 90% of the colleges across the nation have some sort of AP policy, granting credit and/or class placement to stud ents who achieve designated scores on AP exams. This could mean fewer classes you have to take in college, resulting in thousands of dollars saved.