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How to Study for AP Tests

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With AP test dates quickly approaching, you might be wondering how to study and prepare yourself for these important exams. Are there specific things you can do? In this post, we'll take a look at some handy tips that can help you get the most out of your study sessions for the upcoming AP tests.

Studying for AP Tests

Whether you're currently taking an advanced placement (AP) class (or classes) or just plan on taking an AP test without completing the associated course, you're probably aware that the testing dates are coming up in the first few weeks of May. You likely also know that proper preparation is key if you want to be successful on AP tests since they're essentially testing you at a college level and possibly granting you college credit that can save you both time and money when it comes to your college education.

So, what are the best ways to study for these important AP exams? Keep reading for some great tips that can help you study, so you're prepared and confident come AP test day.

a group of students study

Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Taking an AP class at your high school can provide you with a rigorous, solid foundation for the corresponding AP test. However, you can choose to forego the class and just take the AP test. Either way, you'll want to establish a baseline of what you are and aren't proficient in so that you can study harder in areas of weakness.

The College Board, which is the company that runs the AP program, offers several resources that can help you prepare for your AP test and identify your strengths and weaknesses. These include practice questions as well as information on subject material and test format, which is typically a combination of multiple choice and free-response questions (although the tests vary depending on subject). There are also several AP prep books available that can provide similar information. By familiarizing yourself with these things, you can fine tune your studying focus. With that in mind, however, always remember to study all areas, not just those you are weaker in. You want to be completely prepared for the whole AP test or tests!

Take Practice Tests

Another great way to study for your upcoming AP test is to take practice tests. Make sure you keep track of the scores of any practice tests you take, and feel free to take them again and again until you feel like you have it down. By getting a feel for the actual exam and the format of the questions (e.g., how they're worded), you can be that much more comfortable when your AP test day arrives.

female studying for AP test

Think Outside the Box

When it comes to studying for your AP test, sometimes it helps to think outside the box, so to speak. Rather than simply reading passages of information, which can get monotonous, try to come up with innovative, engaging study methods that suit your personal learning style so that you can get the most out of your study efforts.

For example, if you're an audio learner, consider listening to informative podcasts or watching video lessons in the AP subject you'll be tested in. Or, if you happen to be a visual learner, think about using things like diagrams, charts, flashcards, or other visual learning tools.

male student studying for AP test via podcast

Last-Minute Study Pointers

In addition to the tips above, here are some other things that you should keep in mind as you study for AP tests:

  • Don't cram! AP tests are a pretty big deal and can have a profound influence on your future. Make sure you allow yourself plenty of time to study the material (over and over if needed) before test day.
  • Set up a study schedule. Rather than studying in large blocks, break down your study sessions into shorter lengths that correspond with the sections or topics you've acquainted yourself with via AP practice tests.
  • As with any test, get plenty of rest the night before and eat a good breakfast the morning of the test. A tired, hungry brain and body are no match for the in-depth content of AP tests.

Looking for some great AP test prep resources? Study.com's extensive collection of high school courses contains hundreds of engaging AP lessons and study guides that can help you prepare for your upcoming AP test.

By Erin Riskey
April 2018

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