By the end of the school year, most of us have set our brains to cruise control and aren't worrying about papers, tests, or even getting to class on time. But not everyone has that luxury, pre-collegiettes. Those of you taking the AP exams in May are heading into the final stretch before test time, no doubt with flashcards in one hand and a Starbucks espresso in the other. That's why Her Campus is here to help you through the next month and a half with this AP exam study guide, guiding you through each week so you can ace the APs.
Week One: April 8 –14
"Preparation is largely dictated by the subject," says Robert Dvorak, who’s helped students prepare for the AP English exam for over six years. "Begin with a review over the work done up to this point." Meet with your teachers and discuss with them what you'll need to know, and how they think you should study. Don't be afraid to ask for a tutor, it's better to know you need one now as opposed to a week before the exams.
HC Tip: Whether you’re feeling confident or intimidated by the APs, don't let it get to you. Especially at the beginning of your studying, when it may seem like it's impossible. "No matter how well you know the material, test-taking is always different under pressure and time constraints, so it's best to factor in those considerations as well," says Sarah Kahwash, Contributing Writer at Kenyon College.
Week Two: April 15 – 21
As tempting as it may be to zone out in the middle of class, don't do it! Paying attention now is so important because you'll be relearning important material and able to ask questions about the topics you don't understand. Try to plan out what your studying schedule will be for the next few weeks so you don’t procrastinate or end up going on vacation the weekend before exams. Dvorak suggests coming up with some of your own questions to start getting into the mindset of the test. "Having students create questions for a passage they are familiar with helps ease the anxiety and better understand the logic behind these questions," he says. You can take a variety of old practice tests at TestFrenzy or check out CollegeBoard for tips.
:HC Tip: "There are a lot of good books with practice tests, like Princeton Review. Practice taking tests from previous years (they're available on the College Board website), because the test-makers recycle a lot of the same exact questions!" says Summer Austin, Campus Correspondent at Auburn University. You can check out all the subjects Princeton Review offers book on here.
Week Three: April 22 – 28
Sick of hearing yourself repeat foreign capitals and war dates out loud? Now's the time to have a study party with friends. Doing something new will keep your mind on track and offer a new way to learn the material. But beware of your study party turning into a hangout sesh instead. To avoid this, schedule breaks every half hour or forty-five minutes where you can gossip and chat before getting back to the books. You and your friends can also take the practice tests together. "Take a couple practice tests, timed, and review. Discuss test-taking strategies,"says Dvorak.
HC Tip: Don't get so caught up in the material you're studying that you forget to double-check your answers. And make sure you're getting your information from reliable sources. "Compare notes with friends and don't be afraid to check online to confirm that the facts in your study sheets are correct," says Anne Robinson.
Week Four: April 29 – May 5
You only have a couple weeks left until the test, so now is the time to be hitting the books hard. Forgo one of your weekend nights out to stay in and study. And remember, it’s not about how many hours you're studying; it's how well you’re retaining the information. If you study for three hours and can’t remember what you just read, it’s time to change your study habits. "I will put sticky notes all over my dorm and every time I walk by them I will read it and flip it over for the answer," says Ciara Heath. "I transcribe the 'textbook' language to 'everyday' language as a memorization tool. It's far easier to remember colloquial, slang-y language than highly academic, subject-specific language that you only use for a certain class," says Kristen Pye, Contributing Writer at McGill University.
HC Tip: Try memorizing the material different ways, like visually or through songs. "Take advantage of Internet videos. YouTube and other sites put lectures at your fingertips; they're great for last-minute refreshers," says Mara Flanagan, HC Campus Correspondent at Chatham University. She recommends Khan Academy and Crash Course.
Week Five: May 6 – 12
Meet with your teachers again to go over anything that you might be unsure of or material that you need to focus on for the remaining days. And whatever your relationship with them, don't be afraid to ask as many questions as you want about what happens during the test or the material. Dvorak suggests easing some of the tension by remembering a silly word. "'What is the word that makes you laugh?' Say this word anytime during the test that you feel stressed," he says.
HC Tip: Don't freak out, pre-collegiette, you're almost home free and you’ve studied your butt off for this. "Just take a deep breath, relax and try to remember all that you've learned. AP exams are not as scary as they are made out to be," says Mariah Craddick, HC Campus Correspondent at Columbia College.
The night before the test, get a good night’s sleep, and don’t waste any time cramming into the late hours of the night. For the morning, set your alarm ten minutes early so you aren’t rushing, and make sure to eat a healthy breakfast—check out HC’s article on what to pick and what to skip for your morning meal. And depending on what time your test is, pack a couple granola bars or pieces of fruit to snack on beforehand, and have multiple, sharpened #2 pencils on hand. Good luck!