How to Ace Your AP Courses

AP courses are extremely challenging. They are structured differently than regular classes because they are roughly modeled after university-level seminars. If a student can successfully adjust to the intensity of his or her AP classes, this will ensure the transition to college is much smoother. Here are five tips to help you ace your AP courses:

Acknowledge and adjust to the workload

In order to succeed in AP classes, the first and most important step is to adjust one’s attitude toward a heavy workload. Advanced Placement courses are significantly more demanding and time-consuming than regular high school classes. If it is your first time enrolling in an AP course, the increase in the quantity and difficulty of assignments may seem overwhelming to you. Thus, you must train yourself to manage your time well, remain organized, seek out resources like tutors, and treat stress in a healthy manner. Since AP classes simulate the style and rigor of college courses, becoming accustomed to this caliber of class now will benefit you in your higher education. If you choose to challenge yourself with AP courses in high school, you will be more prepared for university than you may at first realize. Here is a great test prep timeline for AP exams.

Always complete assigned readings

Given the intensity of the workload, avoiding reading assignments can seem a tempting option. Regardless of how arduous your AP courses may feel, it is absolutely essential that you not neglect any readings your instructor assigns you. This is perhaps one of the most common mistakes that AP students make. Instructors rarely cover all the important material in class, so individuals will encounter much of the course’s critical subject matter in their readings. In order to ace your AP classes, you must be independent and motivated, as they demand more self-learning than other courses. Therefore, if you do not complete your readings, you are likely missing material you must know to do well on the AP exam.

Read passages with a careful eye

There is a vast difference between reading and reading critically. AP courses insist that students do the latter when approaching their readings. Your goal should not be to finish the assignment, but to dissect it from different perspectives. A wise reader looks for patterns, links, similarities, and contrasts within a text. Take notes in the margins, use Post-its, and highlight material that seems important. For example, if the course is AP U.S. History, pay extra attention to the causes and effects of wars, historical turning points, and major technological advancements. In theory, AP students should be able to recognize the central ideas in their readings.

Hone your skills with sample tests

Taking practice AP exams is an excellent way to prepare for the real test. This strategy will familiarize you with the instructions and format of the exam, the types of questions it utilizes, and the time allotted for each section. It should come as no surprise that individuals with more exposure to AP exam questions typically score higher on their true AP tests. Completing AP practice tests can only equip you for test day. You may also want to look over this information on how to prep for AP exams.

Strengthen your vocabulary

For many students, one of the most daunting aspects of an AP class is the vocabulary it employs. Enrolling in an AP course reveals a whole new world of terminology related to a particular field. At times, individuals may find themselves losing points on the AP exam because they do not understand a word, not because they do not understand the topic a question presents. The inclusion of unfamiliar terms can make subject matter seem more difficult than it truly is, so AP students should possess a basic understanding of the jargon associated with their classes. Developing a wide, sophisticated vocabulary is invaluable when working to ace your AP courses.