Studying for the 2021 AP Exams: Tips and Tricks!

We’ve reached the month of May, meaning AP Exam season is upon us. And believe me, I’m sure the last thing you want to do after finishing a rigorous, college level course is a strenuous test covering everything you learned. Unfortunately, we all have to take the exams if we took an AP class this year – it’s inevitable. But, there is a silver lining in all this: doing well on the AP exams allows you to skip taking the class in college, meaning you have more time reserved for classes you’re passionate about. So how exactly can you get the prestigious score of five on an AP exam? Well, I’ve compiled a list of the most useful and effective ways to prepare your brain and ensure that you retain as much information as possible.

Start as Early as Possible

I know it’s oftentimes difficult to find the motivation to study. If you’re a junior like me , you may be busy devoting all your time to SAT studying, ACT studying, etc. But if you are aiming to score high on ANY exam, you must begin training yourself early. According to The Princeton Review, most students begin AP Exam preparation one to three months before the test date. In hindsight, it really depends on the rigor of your studying; ask yourself how many days a week you’ll devote to studying, and then calculate how long it will take to review all the material. But it’s crucial to remember a significant rule: don’t cram!

Review Small Pieces of Information at a Time

Studying your material in small sections is one of, if not the most effective way to remember information. Do not stay up until all hours of the night reading ten pages of notes, hoping to remember as much as you can. (Trust me, I’ve tried.) By breaking up lengthy and dense material into small strings of information, your brain is more likely to recall that information quicker and clearer. You also have the ability to dive into greater detail of a topic if you review small pieces. It will save you time and eliminate stress because your mind isn’t struggling to retain tons of boring information like it would be if you crammed. 

Study and Review with Peers

Another great studying strategy is to find one or more peers to buddy up with and study. This is especially helpful for those who aren’t fans of sitting alone in a room for hours by yourself. By studying with peers, you get numerous benefits. Firstly, you can have your friends quiz you. If you get something wrong or don’t fully understand it, having a buddy explain it to you is extremely advantageous. Secondly, conversing with peers is a great way to discover new ways to study. Sometimes there are simpler, more effective ways to study that you may not be aware of. Even if you don’t have the same AP classes as your friends, it never hurts to visit a library or even a Starbucks to silently study together. Having the reassurance that you’re not alone in the difficult process of preparing for the AP Exams can give you the extra oomph to push yourself.

Take Advantage of AP Classroom

If you’re currently in or have taken an AP class, I’m sure you have an AP Classroom account. AP Classroom is the holy grail, in my opinion, for studying for an AP Exam. There are sections devoted to practicing and studying for all AP Exams. By visiting the “Exam” page for your course on AP Classroom, you get access to tons of helpful resources. Some of the tools include videos reviewing each section, sample student responses, scoring guidelines, and even full length practice exams. AP Classroom is great because you don’t have to navigate through a hundred different websites trying to find information for each section; they have all the reviews compiled into one website. I highly suggest asking your teachers about which practice resources they personally recommend. By now it is likely that your teacher has unlocked certain progress checks with multiple choice and free-response questions. If this is the case, take advantage of these! They are only there to help you, and even give you constructive feedback on why you got questions wrong. Overall, AP Classroom is a catalyst for nothing but helpful materials.

Hopefully these tips will help you in your preparation for the AP Exams not only this year, but in future years to come. Doing well on these exams saves you much needed time in college by allowing you to knock off classes early. But even if you don’t do so well on the AP Exams, it’s not the end of the world. You may have to take a similar class in college, but you know what to expect for that class. The most important thing is maintaining a good average in your AP classes because it will tremendously help your GPA. But with a strong mindset and enough self-discipline, you should be able to pass your 2021 AP Exams with flying colors. Good luck!

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