3 Last-Minute Study Techniques for AP Exams

With AP exam dates quickly approaching, it can feel like crunch-time. Instead of frantically trying to absorb information while studying, enlist strategies that will help you more effectively use your remaining prep time. Here are three last-minute study techniques for AP exams that can help you achieve test day success:

1. Create an AP exam study guide

Writing your own study guide for an AP exam is a productive exercise. If you have received a guide from your teacher, use it as a model for your own. If you haven’t received one, start from scratch. Make your own AP exam study guide by:

  • Listing key terms and definitions

  • Writing out important formulas, or drawing visual aids and diagrams

  • Taking notes on crucial concepts and ideas.

This will give you agency as the test-taker and help you more effectively grasp material. Creating a study guide will also help you find gaps in your knowledge. This is especially helpful if that gap is a concept you know will be on the test.

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2. Organize your notes and other class materials prior to your AP exam

Another helpful strategy is to go through your notes and other class materials, including handouts, in-class or homework assignments, and readings. One way to begin is to organize your notes chronologically, or to group them by concept. Outline essential concepts, and don’t be afraid to annotate your notes or to jot down key words on a separate sheet of paper. You might try color-coding your notes, using highlighters or colored pencils. This will help you visually group information and focus on what’s important.

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3. Take a practice test when preparing for your AP exam

Practice tests can help you understand the format of the exam and illustrate tested concepts. You can go to the library to check out a practice test book, or ask your teacher if he or she knows where you could find sample exams. You can also look online for sample questions. Remember to abide by the time limit when you’re taking practice tests, and read through the answer key to understand the questions you missed.

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AP exams can be stressful, and they are often held on back-to-back days. Remember to take quick breaks during your study sessions, and pace yourself as much as possible. Lastly, have a balanced meal and a good night’s sleep to keep your brain fresh and alert.

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