Tips For The AP Exams

Alexis Kelerchian, Writer

Listen up, AP Students. It’s that time of the year: AP testing season. We kicked it off with AP Government and AP Chemistry yesterday, but that’s only the beginning. Whether you are prepping your AP Art portfolio or skimming through practice FRQs for AP Calculus BC, consider the following tips so you don’t lose your cool these next two weeks:

  1. Don’t Cram. Believe me, I’ve tried it. Trying to cram for an AP exam only ends in tears (I speak from experience…). You have spent a little over eight months with the material on the exam whether you feel like it or not – it’s true! For eight months, you’ve been exposed to the content and practiced AP style questions and writing in preparation for the exam. Rather than trying to cram a year’s worth of information into your brain for forty-eight hours straight, ask your teacher for a comprehensive course syllabus or access a College Board guide that indicates all the lessons, chapters, or units you should know for the exam. From that list, identify the specific sections you might want to brush up on before the exam. Focus your studying efforts on your weak topics to strengthen your holistic understanding of the class.
  2. Reach out to your teachers (and not your teachers). During the next two weeks, teachers will be one, if not the best, of your resources when preparing for an AP exam. Email your teacher(s) with specific questions or issues and schedule a time to meet to discuss such problems in person. Remember that teachers who are not directly instructing you in a class are too a great resource when prepping for an exam. Maybe you struggle to understand a topic the way your teacher explains it, and you need a second, alternative explanation to fully grasp the concept – don’t hesitate to reach out. A large proportion of Gwynedd faculty have dabbled in teaching different courses, from college prep to AP. Just because a teacher is not actively teaching an AP class does not mean they don’t have wisdom to share with you; tap into their knowledge and use every resource available to succeed!
  3. It’s just an AP exam. Time to get macroscopic. Yes, of course, you want to do well on your AP exam. You’re taking an AP class, which means you are smart, focused, and driven, but recognize the relative insignificance of the exam on your high school and college experience. You may or may not be able to transfer your AP credit to your future college regardless of your score, and your score does not determine your course selection for next year, your GPA, or your college’s acceptance decisions. You are taking an AP class because you want to go above and beyond the academic confines of a standard high school curriculum. Know that your score is not necessarily reflective of your body of work within the class for the past two semesters nor does it predict your prospective scholastic performance in college; correlation does NOT equate to causation (#APPsychology). Don’t get me wrong – I, along with your teachers and peers, encourage you to try your best on your AP exam(s). You’ve put in the work all year and you have to sit in the testing room for 3+ hours anyway, so you should shoot for the best score you can!
  4. Close the books. After eight hours straight of staring at a plant cell diagram, know when to close your notes and take a break. The last thing you want to do right before an AP exam is fry your brain, so listen to your body’s queues to stretch, take a walk, have a snack, or take a nap. If you just took an AP exam and have one coming up soon after, allow yourself to recuperate following the first exam. Take the night off after an AP exam, and wake up ready to seize the day the next morning.

Good luck AP Students. I know you got this, because, after all, You Are The Future!