4 Reasons to Take an AP Practice Test

Ian Harkins
February 14, 2023
min read

It’s February already. And coming around the corner is that most wonderful time of the year when, for two weeks in May, students nationwide will have 2-3 hours to prove themselves in the face of multiple-choice questions, essay responses, and performance tasks. In case the description or the article’s title didn’t give it away, we are of course talking about AP season.

AP prep goes hand-in-hand with practice tests, something that some students will be new to, and others will be all too familiar with. No matter your experience level, practice tests are one of the most practical, helpful ways to study.

What can you learn from a practice test? Here is our list of 4 tips to keep in mind for why practice tests and review can be so helpful.

1. Find Out How Ready You Are for the Real Test

The AP tests can be a significant investment of time, finances, and stress. And most colleges and universities will dispense academic credit to students who achieve 4s and 5s, and sometimes a 3.

A practice test serves as a fantastic lodestar for determining whether you’re on the right track at this point in the year. Ask yourself if you are happy with your practice score, bearing in mind of course, that you still have some content to learn in your AP course. Are you prepared to put in the work in the next couple of months? What scores are the schools you are interested in looking for? What do you have going on that might impact studying as much as you might like?

These are all completely valid questions to ask yourself, so that you can plan to devote the right amount of time and energy to preparing for your exams in May.

2. Get Used to the Material

February is an interesting time in an AP course. There’s a lot you have covered, some of it a while ago. And there is a lot still to go. You can use a practice test as an indicator for what you still need to focus on learning, and what you might need to go back and review.

Every single teacher runs a different classroom; and that’s a great thing. We want teachers to put their own touches on what they want to emphasize, or what they feel interests the class. But the AP test is standardized, and thus might need you to concentrate on a certain topic more. I personally see this quite a lot when I tutor the history courses. And I will frequently have to double back with students and remind them, say, how the Catholic Counter-Reformation sprang up from the Protestant Reformation in the AP Euro, because that would have been covered months ago at the very beginning of the course. So, diagnosing which questions felt hard and easy, and where you might like to target your review, can be enormously beneficial early on to a study plan.

3. Get Used to the Format and Pacing

Yes, by now, you’ve taken tests and you have done homework for your AP course. But have you tried a history DBQ yet? Have you fully answered all 7 parts of a chem question, and justified your answer at each step? Have you described what’s going on in a Spanish lecture in Spanish while you’re wearing a headset? And have you done all of it in one go, on time, craning your head over a test booklet?

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An AP can be a daunting experience. And if you can avoid it, the first time you take it probably should not be when it counts. Use a practice test to see where you might not be keeping pace, or where you are unclear about what is being asked of you. That way, when it is time to take the real thing, questions about format and pacing play little to no part in holding you back from achieving your best outcome.

4. Know Where to Reach out for Help

Once you have taken that practice test, one of the best things you can do with it is to look it over with someone. That could be a teacher, a peer, a mentor, a parent, or a tutor. They can help you with individual questions, or topics, or proofread an answer for you. They can guide you, set out a study plan, and give you homework. They can help tailor a review plan to what you need. And you can be more specific with them too about what it is you need help on.

So to all the students out there starting to think about AP planning, we hope that this has been a helpful guide, and we hope that we can continue to support you throughout your school exams. Happy studying!

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