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AP Exam Advice: 4 Tips to Make Studying Easier

illustration of study space

March is when things really kick into high gear for AP exam prep. Now’s the time to start preparing – but it’s tempting to put it off. After all, sitting down to start mastering a whole year’s worth of advanced content is a pretty daunting task and you may be feeling the pressure. 

When I was in AP Spanish, I had to call my Spanish teacher every week starting in March and leave her a voicemail as practice for the verbal section of the exam. I called her more than my mom by the end of the semester!

If you’re looking for manageable and effective ways to prepare for your AP exams, here are some tips to get you started. We’ve also created an outline of how to maximize College Board resources to make sure you’re on track. 

 

1. Create checklists from the prompts for free-response questions.

When the free-response sections of AP exams are evaluated, one of the best ways to get a 3 or higher is to make sure you hit every single thing they asked for. 

A great strategy for this is to underline or circle key words in the prompt, and form a checklist from these words or phrases to use at the end and make sure you hit everything that was required. 

With the time limits of the exams, it’s easy to rush and miss small details that the graders will be looking for. 

2. Use online resources – yes this can include Tumblr & Tik Tok!

In addition to the College Board’s online resources, there are other, fun online resources to help you get ready. If you’re growing tired of reading and need some audiovisual reinforcement, the YouTube channel Crash Course (started by John and Hank Green) has videos on every subject from the humanities to sciences. 

Tumblr may not seem like a conventional study resource, but there are hashtags for just about every AP class. And you’ll find more than just memes for everyone commiserating about the difficulty of these exams. The AP Tumblr community has resources such as different ways to approach DBQs and past AP students happy to give their advice on their blogs. 

Similarly, check out the hashtags for AP classes on Tik Tok. Here’s an example of one past AP Bio student sharing his tips on how to get a 5 on the exam. 

3. Short study sessions are more effective than long ones.

Retaining key facts in your memory is essential to doing well on your AP exams, and you’re more likely to retain the information you’re studying with this strategy: short and frequent study sessions. 

For example, instead of cramming for 2 hours at a time, try 20 minutes of AP Chem, 20 minutes of AP Psych, and then switch to other homework assignments or activities. Then, make sure to get plenty of rest each night while your hippocampus gets to work on processing your memories and storing them long term.

For more strategies on maximizing your study habits, check out our advice on memory and studying. 

4. Teach others about the material. 

The main reason I can remember the Defenestration of Prague is that when I was in AP Euro, I told everyone I possibly could that there’s literally a word for being thrown out of a window (defenestration) and this happened to key figures in Prague so often it became a part of European history. 

Teaching others about what you’re learning helps you create new memories with that information in a different context and also helps you build those neural networks. Instead of having your friends quiz you with flash cards, have them pick a topic from a list you provide and teach them about it. 

We encourage you to try these new strategies for the upcoming AP exams. Incorporating some of these techniques will help you earn a fantastic score on your AP exams, and help you build your study skills all around. 

The single best study tip we can offer is don’t go it alone! You have a lot to juggle and an experienced AP tutor can help you make the most of your study time. Contact us at 866-789-7737 to speak with an Applerouth Advisor about private AP tutoring.


Applerouth is a trusted test prep and tutoring resource. We combine the science of learning with a thoughtful, student-focused approach to help our clients succeed. Call or email us today at 202-558-5644 or info@applerouth.com.