How to Prepare for AP Exams

Photo: Jessica Ryu

As time draws closer to May, the level of anxiety and study among high school students reaches its peak. While most students are enrolled in AP courses at school, at many times the curricula that school classes offer do not suffice to prepare for the AP exams. As a result, a large number of students are required to put numerous hours outside of school to prepare themselves for the exams.

For underclassmen, particularly sophomores, who are taking their first AP exam, it is important to invest time in taking mock tests to familiarize themselves to the format of the test. The long hours of testing can be challenging for first-time AP test takers. The preparation process itself must also be strategic. Simply regurgitating information may not be most helpful. Identify the areas that need improvement, and focus on mastering such topics.

Generally, but especially for upperclassmen who take multiple AP exams, it is paramount that students begin the process of review and preparation for the exam in advance. Especially as non-AP courses continue to have workload throughout the year regardless of AP exams, managing time in a way that allows for enough review before the exam is extremely important. When only one or two weeks are left until the AP exam, it is difficult to cram such a large amount of material while keeping up with schoolwork.

An important part of planning the whole process is selecting an appropriate number of AP courses in subject areas you feel confident in. Although some schools have a limit on the number of AP courses they allow their students in each grade level to take, certain schools without a limit often have students who take five to seven AP courses in their junior or senior year. Overloading on AP courses beyond an amount you can handle can lead to an inability to be successful in those courses and when taking the AP exam. You must know yourself as a student and as a person in terms of how much stress you can handle, how much time you can spend studying for each of the courses, and to what level you wish to be successful in the AP courses you enroll in.


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