5 Strategies to Help Students Succeed on AP Exams

In today’s ultra-competitive college admissions landscape, many students rely on AP, advanced placement, courses to show colleges and universities that they are “college ready.” According to the College Board, nearly 1.2 million students took over four million AP exams in 2022. AP courses are considered to be college level curricula, academically rigorous courses demonstrating that students will be able to keep up with the workload and concepts taught in college classes. AP Exams are scored on a one to five scale, and depending on a college’s criteria for accepting AP scores, students who score over a three might be able to get college credit for an AP class or skip an introductory level class. 

While students are learning the curriculum for an AP Exam throughout the school year, it is important to invest a considerable amount of time studying for this test which encompasses approximately eight months’ worth of curriculum. Here are 5 strategies to help students succeed on AP Exams.

  1. Create a study guide. While students might have a school year’s worth of notes to review, organizing these notes and creating a study guide is an incredibly valuable way to begin the review process. Group material by topics and include practice questions that you did in class. Include test questions. Outline key points. Include a list of potential topics that could appear on the exam as well as the exam format. Color code everything. If you struggle with a particular unit, make sure that you highlight that material so you can review it more thoroughly when you study for the AP Exam. Once students master a concept, they can move onto the next topic. 
  1. Start from the beginning. Start now and review everything learned in September now. By starting at the beginning of the school year, students can also make connections between the first concepts they learned and newer topics. Students who take the time to methodically review materials tend to be able to identify concepts they missed. If the student is studying a subject, like history, that requires a chronological understanding of the subject matter, start at the earliest decade or century studied. Identify historical figures during each time period and list key accomplishments and associated events. Students studying subjects centered around cause and effect, like many of the sciences, should identify causes before studying the results of the causes. 
  1. Identify strengths and weaknesses. First, students should remember that they know more than they realize. Yet, by identifying topics that come easy to them, they can quickly review and move onto mastering more challenging concepts. By studying and prepping by yourself or one-on-one with a tutor referred by GAMECHANGER Tutoring Connection, students can focus on their personal needs rather than the needs of a larger group. This makes it easier for each student to identify their own strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, if a student knows that they are stronger at multiple choice tests than essay tests, they can devote more time to preparing for the essay sections or long answer sections of the test. Finally, after identifying strengths and weaknesses, students can pick out where they have clarifying questions. 
  1. Practice, practice, practice. There are many old AP Exams and exam questions that students can use for the purpose of practicing. Teachers and the internet are good sources for supplying students with free practice questions and tests. The more students practice, the more familiar they become with multiple versions of the same questions. The more familiar students become with varied versions of a question on any given topic, the more confident they will be when they walk into the exam. Plus, the more times that students take an entire AP practice test at once, the more endurance they will build. They will learn to manage their time and will be less intimidated by the idea of taking an AP Exam. 
  1. Ask for help. Students spend a lot of time in classroom or large group settings. Many students are passive listeners in lecture settings. They might find it challenging to become an active listener in a large classroom setting. It can be intimidating to ask questions in front of peers, which means that they might not ask for explanations about confusing concepts. Students should take advantage of opportunities to meet with their teachers, one-to-one, to get any concepts that they don’t understand clarified. GAMECHANGER Tutoring Connection can also connect students to tutors who will individualize the learning process, focusing on each student’s specific needs, focusing on creating a personalized strategy that will help each student maximize their test-taking skills.  

Getting ready for AP exams requires focus, persistence, and dedication. These strategies will help students become confident test-takers as they work to master college level curriculum. 


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