AP Exam Tips

Ashley O'Doherty

Students, it is that time of year again. As the birds are finally chirping and the sun is shining brighter than ever, the promise of summer draws closer. This beautiful weather also reminds us that we are in crunch time for the end of the school year which for some of us might mean AP exam preparation. The AP exams can be quite daunting as you feel that there is so much information to remember from the entire year. I am here to offer you some helpful tips and advice to help you feel confident in your skills and your work going into the AP exam season.  


  1. Look at the big picture! I know the course load for each of the AP classes is long and filled with information. Leading up to the exam, you may try to remember every little detail and go meticulously through each section! Believe me this is just going to leave you even more overwhelmed. Instead, try to find a course overview that highlights big ideas from each section. Then you can start to narrow down the sections that you struggle with and can really focus on those rather than overworking yourself and your brain. Course review guides can be found on the College Board website and also there are many free reviews on the internet. Know that you are not going to be able to memorize and recall every single term from the course, so take a deep breath and try to build a firm understanding of the large ideas rather than the nitty-gritty details.  
  2. Reach out to helpful resources! Surviving the AP season is not a one-person job. Surround yourself with people that can help you feel more confident going into the exam. Reach out to teachers at Gwynedd. I can guarantee you that they all will be happy to help and review with you. Make a study group with your fellow friends in your classes. Just by simply talking to another classmate about a topic on the exam will allow you to gain a better understanding of the material. Reach out to your family! Last year, I was extremely stressed about my APUSH exam, and I would talk to my mom about different topics on the exam. I explained to her how World War 1 began, and through outwardly speaking about the information, I surprised myself with how much I knew. Finally, use the technology that is in front of you! YouTube videos have helped me a lot during AP Exam season. My favorite YouTube channel, specifically for some of the Social Studies’ exams, is Heimler’s History. Even TikTok has some helpful AP exam tips!  
  3. Do not Overwork Yourself! Although you may feel stressed, you need to remember to put yourself first. Do not drain your battery while preparing for an exam. During the weeks leading up to the exam, study periodically without overworking your brain. Take breaks in between your studying – take a walk, read a book, or even scroll endlessly on TikTok. Make sure you are going to bed at a reasonable time so each morning you wake up feeling refreshed to take on the day. Although it may seem like it now, an AP test does not define who you are as a student and more importantly as a person. You all have worked so hard and have already shown your determination and strength just by taking an AP course. Always remember that this exam is just an exam!  
  4. Give yourself something to look forward to! Whenever I have a deadline or an exam looming over me, I decide to focus on all the other positive things that are happening in my life. This can apply to an AP exam. After your exam, you must, to quote Parks and Recreation, TREAT YOURSELF! Go celebrate yourself and your accomplishments. Sitting through a mind-numbing exam or even creating an art portfolio is not easy. You must exhale and pat yourself on the back. Go out to dinner with friends, see a movie, watch Dance Moms. Whatever you decide is up to you, just make sure you do something that brings you joy. Last year, before I went in to take my APUSH exam, my friend gave me a KitKat, which is my favorite candy. I packed it in my lunch bag, and I could not wait to finish my exam to eat it. So, find something that brings you joy to celebrate yourself and all your accomplishments.  


I truly wish you all the best on your AP exams. You are all talented and hardworking individuals that can do anything you put your mind to. You all have worked hard this year and are more prepared than you probably think, so have confidence and faith in yourself. Before the exam take a deep breath and focus, you got this!