APs: The Ultimate Guide
At BASIS, us high school students are required to take at least one AP freshman year, and even more in our sophomore and junior year. I’m a junior this year, and I’ve taken 6 AP exams so far. This may be unlucky for me, but it means I get to pass on my knowledge of how to not go absolutely insane while prepping for several exams at once, which is lucky for you. This article is meant to give students taking multiple AP courses tips on how to manage their time, feel confident, and hopefully ace their exams (not guaranteed).
Shockingly, money can buy happiness- at least when it comes to APs. Those review books that look like total snoozes might actually help you, for certain classes. Barron’s and Princeton Review books are recommended, but they cost anywhere from 25-40 dollars each on Amazon. My recommendation- only buy review books for memorization-heavy subjects, such as any history or sciences classes. For other subjects like English or calculus, which are more practice-heavy, you might benefit more from doing practice tests online. These review books combine practice tests with information summaries, which are helpful to go through in the month or two leading up to the exam in order to relearn information you may have forgotten.
Another useful thing about many review books: they provide templates for outlines you can create of all the information you will need for the exam. If I had to name one thing that got me through a difficult year of AP Gov, it would have to be the massive outline I made of every single thing I learned in that class. To create an “outline” for the outline, I looked at what my trusty Barron’s thought I should know, then supplemented that with my class notes. Review books usually indicate which information they believe is very important, so it's crucial to pay attention and write down what they say is essential.
Learning how to study is useless if you never actually end up doing it, which is why it's important to create concrete study plans, especially for the weeks leading up to your exams. Last year, my strategy was to create blocks of time each day on my Google Calendar where I would study each subject, varying the amount of time based on how much I was struggling with the material. For the sake of my sanity, I alternated which subjects I was studying each day. I made sure to start this schedule 3 weeks in advance of my first test date, although this year, I think it would be beneficial if I started even earlier.
Lastly, I recommend signing up for an account on either Fiveable or Khan Academy, two amazingly informational websites. Fiveable condenses large amounts of information into small articles and study guides, and has a library of basically any AP class imaginable. I find Khan Academy more useful for STEM subjects, since they have an array of practice problems available that are organized by unit, so you can practice the subjects you are most struggling with as much as you want.
I hope this guide gave you ideas about how you are going to prepare for your AP exams in May, and hopefully I alleviated some of your stress by doing that. Happy Studying!