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How to Study for AP Exams?

Aug 20, 2021

Preparing for the AP exam can not only be challenging but also cumbersome because it is three hours long and comprises different subjects. But with well-proven tricks and strategies along with following good study material- one can ace the AP exam and get great results. With the school coursework that goes on in parallel and preparing for the AP, the idea of exam prep can be dreadful and gives much nervousness to the aspirant.
But, here is the good news! We bring you a five-step essential plan for acing in the AP Examination with minimal effort:

Best 5- Step Study Plan for AP Exam  

Step 1: Get Aware of the Syllabus and Exam Information:

The first step in acing the AP examination is to know the syllabus and exam-related information through and through. Here are the main aspects the student needs to know before applying for the AP examination:
• Syllabus for your AP class- which includes the whole subject curriculum the student needs to prepare
• Any of your old tests, quizzes, or papers- this gives a thorough understanding of how the question patterns are going to be in the AP exam
• AP Course and Exam Description for the course- It gives an insight into the important test dates, such as the last date of the application, and additional details.


After gathering all the documents, draw a comparison to your class’s syllabus with the AP Course and Exam Description. The tailor-made class should cover all the major content areas—the syllabus had to get approved by the College Board. Getting the right teaching guidance and understanding of the test prep comes next.

Step 2: Make a Customizable Study Plan:

Every student’s learning graph is unique and has its own pace. After gaining a good understanding of the AP exam, make a plan by keeping the following factors into account:
1. Give more time for the weaker areas of focus- to improve and understand the complex concepts.
2. Aim for strengthening of fundamentals further- this gives greater confidence and renewed energy levels during the prep.
3. Choose Smart work over Hard Work: Working too hard and burning out during the prep cannot be useful for desirable results. Invest the energies where it works, and bring positivity to the whole prep experience.
4. Be consistent: Even if you are studying lesser hours per day for the exam prep, make sure it is regular and consistently going on. There is no point in burning out for 9 hours a day in prep and then falling apart for the next few days- Remember, consistency is the key!
5. Choose Reliable Study Material: Always depend on the online official sources of the College Board first – when it comes to AP prep material. Before choosing the material for subject fundamentals, re-check the authenticity of it and then go ahead.


A typical AP Exam Study plan that spans over a few months is given below:

Week Learning in Class Content to Review Prep to Complete 
1 Turn of the century Make outlines and flashcards for Renaissance (Italian vs Northern), 100 Years’ War, black plague Look over some old free-response questions and a few sample multiple-choice questions 
2 WWI Make outlines and flashcards for Reformation, religious wars Write practice DBQ and get Mr. Smith to score 
3 WWI Make outlines and flashcards for Columbus, other explorers, 30 Years’ War Write practice FRQ and get Mr. Smith to score 
4 Russian Revolution Make outlines and flashcards for absolutist rulers, agricultural revolution Take complete timed multiple-choice section 
5 Between the world wars Make outlines and flashcards for slave trade and colonialism, Enlightenment Work on thesis statements and outlining practice for DBQ 
6 WWII Make outlines and flashcards for French Revolution, Industrial Revolution, Napoleon Work on thesis statements and outlining practice for FRQ 
7 WWII Make outlines and flashcards for nationalism, Marxism, socialism Practice DBQ and FRQ, and get Mr. Smith to score 
8 The Cold War Make outlines and flashcards for Western imperialism, WWI Take complete timed multiple-choice section 
9 The Cold War Make outlines and flashcards for Russian Revolution, between the wars, WWII, Cold War Take complete practice test 
10 Post Cold War Review outlines and flashcards Final practice FRQ (timed) 
11 In-class review Review outlines and flashcards Final practice DBQ (timed) 
12 (test week!) Final review and test prep! Final outline review/flashcards Rest up! 

Step 3: Gather Resources, also Make your Own!

There is an ample number of subject information online – classified based on the subject. Popular exam prep websites such as Princeton Review and Barron’s also offer good source material that can help you excel in the AP examination. For the students who learn faster with interactive learning, enrolling in a course, gathering reliable sources on YouTube, or Khan Academy also becomes resourceful. Also, rely on yourself by making your resource material that works best for faster learning.

Step 4: Practice Tests – The Most Important Stage:

There is never a limit to doing as many practice tests as possible- as it will sharpen the skills and boosts confidence. After getting strong in fundamentals in each subject, start with practice tests and remember to do as many as possible to ensure sure shot success.


Step 5: Stick to the Schedule:

It is alright to have a day off during the stressful times of preparation but make sure that the schedule is being followed to the maximum extent. Keeping specific times and places for your AP studying will help you stay consistent and keep pace with your review schedule!
General Tips for AP Review:
1. Know Your Prep Style: Every student has a prep style- one can take a longer time to understand the concepts, while another student can be a quick learner. It is important to know yourself in terms of prep, solving questions, and grasping the fundamental concepts.
2. Have Multiple Reviews of Material: There is no upper limit to the number of times you would want to revise the material because it will be of great help. Keep reviewing the essential information relating to the AP test- whenever possible.
3. Immerse in the Material: Familiarize yourself with the AP test material, and also dig deeper into the subject- but remember not to over dig into a subject. Having a clear-cut understanding of the syllabus will help the student to score better in the examination.

Critical Test-Taking Tips for AP Exam Day

Here are some of the useful tips that help the student during the AP exam day:
1. Get Enough Rest on the night before the exam date
2. Arrange everything needed a day in advance- to avoid last-minute hassles
3. Carry your stationery- pencils, erasers to ensure a seamless exam appearance
4. Keep yourself on positive attitude throughout the exam
5. Answer every question- guessing doesn’t cost you hard in the AP examination!


How to Prepare for AP Tests: Key Takeaways

Some of the solid takeaways for the AP tests are given below:
1. Gather good source material, and rely on the official website’s info.
2. Consistency is the key- both for learning and practice tests.
3. Don’t Overburn- Choose smart work over hard work- for better results!
With well-planned strategies and the right focus, acing the AP exam can be a cakewalk- without much worry or anxiety.



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