The Ultimate Study Plan for AP Courses

Even though the start of the school year is just around the corner – or already here, depending on your district’s schedule – you can still set yourself up for success. The first week of school is often a bit slower than normal, which gives you a great opportunity to get ahead on your upcoming AP courses. Here are a few guidelines to create the ultimate study plan.

1. Know the course content

Familiarize yourself with the course content, including important concepts and skills you’ll learn throughout the semester, and the order in which you’ll learn them. Doing so can help you get a sense of what you’ll be asked to do, and knowing the order may help you predict the connections between different concepts, such as how one builds upon the next. If classes haven’t already started, contact your teacher to request an advance copy of the course syllabus, if possible.

2. Preview the textbook or use a supplementary text

An excellent way to familiarize yourself with course content is to preview the textbook you’ll use in class. If you can get your hands on it, read the first few chapters so you’ll be able to jump right in when the semester begins. Skim the other chapters – read the titles and subheadings – so you’ll know what’s ahead of you and how concepts and ideas relate to each other. This kind of reading can provide you with a bigger picture of the course. Jotting down unfamiliar vocabulary can also put you a step ahead in terms of course prep.

3. Read and quiz ahead

Many courses assign readings and pre-quizzes over the summer as well. Skim the material you already worked on this summer to make sure it is fresh in your mind. You can take different approaches to your AP reading: skimming, then reading them more in-depth; annotating them; and taking notes. Pre-quizzes are great for letting you know how you’re likely to be assessed on material throughout the course.

4. Make study materials

During the remainder of summer and the first week of school, consider making study materials – such as flashcards, outlines, or PowerPoint slideshows – that you can use when the class picks up speed. You’ll be busy during the semester, and this slow time may be great for completing tasks such as writing definitions on notecards, which can prove extremely useful when quizzes or tests come around. Alternatively, there are apps you can download designed specifically for AP courses.

Once you’ve made a study plan for your AP course, reach out to classmates and friends. If there’s interest in study groups or partners, you might be able to meet up and discuss readings or quizzes. In addition, consider seeking out friends who’ve already taken the course and who can share their experience.