AP Tips


As Charles Dickens opened his novel, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” For many upperclassmen, May embodies this quote, for prom and AP tests go hand in hand. The first week of May is the calm before the storm, but the two weeks following will lead to an increase in coffee consumption, sweatpants, and messy buns for those of us taking AP tests.

Although AP tests are generally not used for college admissions, they can mean anything from skipping over large introductory courses freshman year to entering college as a sophomore (and saving thousands in tuition fees). So how can you make the most of your AP tests?

According to premier test prep blog PrepScholar, do the easy questions first. It advises, “If you feel yourself getting bogged down, skip that question, and come back to it to either work on it more (if you have time) or guess (if you don’t).” Just make sure you leave enough time at the end to quickly fill them in — there’s no penalty for guessing, so you should fill out a guess for every question to ensure you get the highest score possible. If you’re someone who generally runs out of time during the test, choose a go-to letter that you will always pick if you don’t know the answer. That way, the odds will be in your favor about a quarter of the time.

If you don’t like that strategy and tend to have more time, try elimination (but make sure not to combine the two strategies!). Go through the possible answers and eliminate at least two of them. For every answer you eliminate, you increase the odds of getting the question right! Remember, there is only one correct answer. Make sure that every part of your answer is correct.

Time management is key to taking any timed test. Managing your time wisely can cut down priceless seconds that can boost your score. One easy tip is to read the instructions and know the format of the test ahead of time, so there aren’t any surprises on test day. Information on formatting is easily available online, and you can ask your teacher, too. Have time targets (answering a quarter of the questions in less than a quarter of the time will give you some wiggle room), and wear a watch so you can keep track yourself. Make sure that your watch is accepted in the testing room, so you aren’t thrown off on test day.

Two days before the test, make sure you get lots of sleep. The night before the test, make sure you’re well-rested, but don’t sleep too long or you’ll be groggy. Eat breakfast, and emphasize protein and complex carbs. If you drink coffee, drink coffee, but don’t do anything outside your normal routine.

Last year, Kayla Hagen took the AP US History test (fondly, or not-so-fondly referred to as APUSH). She recommends bringing snacks to keep you focused during the day. Her snack of choice? “Apples… they make you feel energetic!”

In the end, senior and AP test veteran Lucy Meigs reminds us, “If you are feeling stressed, remember that AP tests really don’t matter in the long run of life… In a year you will be leaving home and going to explore everything else in the world, and that test won’t make a difference.”

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