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How to Find the Best AP Practice Tests

Jan 18, 2023
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AP practice tests are one of the most important study tools in your arsenal for preparation for the AP exams. This applies to all the AP exams. This blog will discuss why you must use AP practice tests, how they can boost your study process and help you with AP test practice, and where to find high-quality AP practice tests for any AP exam.

Why should you use AP practice tests?

The biggest reason you should use the AP tests is that they make you comfortable with the exam pattern. Knowledge can only take you so far on these exams. You require additional skills to channel that knowledge in the way the College Board wants you to. For example, you might think that you know all of the content on History, but if you have never seen an AP question before, you could be blindsided on the exam day simply because the way the questions are asked is confusing for you. 

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Ways in which the AP Practice Test can boost your exam preparation 

  • Looking at the practice tests makes you acquainted with the AP format and style of questions. When you start with your AP preparation, seeing practice, AP tests will teach you how asked, free-response, and multiple-choice questions. This knowledge will help you understand the pattern of questions asked on the exam. You must also read the recent official directions for the various sections. Familiarizing yourself with the most recent test directions will save you time on exam day as you will be clear about what tasks you will be asked to complete. 
  • These tests help you point out gaps in your skills and knowledge. Once you have gained a good level of functional knowledge on the subject, looking at an AP test and finding out the questions you get wrong will acquaint you with your weak points so that you can focus more on topics related to those. 
  • Practice tests help you track your progress over time. If you take these tests and write practice essays every few days or weeks, you can track your progress and know if you have improved. For example, let’s say you consistently got a score of three a month ago, and now you are almost always getting fours; it means that you are on the right track and that your study strategies are working. However, if your progress is stagnating below your target score, your study methods aren’t helping you improve your score and need some alterations. You need to ask yourself questions such as ‘Are you focusing on learning content when you should be focusing on exam skills or vice versa?’ ‘Are you struggling with time management?’ And so on. 

High-quality practice tests and where to find them?

We hope the discussion above helped you understand the importance of the AP practice exams. Now that you are convinced to use them, the question is how to find the best practice tests. What defines a good quality practice test, and where to find those?

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What defines a high-quality practice test?

Best practice tests are the ones that share a maximum resemblance to the official AP tests in terms of the sections, type of questions, distribution of topics, and the wording of the questions. These are considered the best as they will mimic the exam experience to the maximum extent possible. 

All the questions should come with an answer key. This is essential; otherwise, how will you know if you have marked the correct answers? It is also nice to have explanations for the answers. Unfortunately, the most official source, the College Board, does not usually provide explanations for answers to anything other than the free-response questions.

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Where to get the best AP practice test?

The best and most accurate AP tests can be found on the College Board website. As they make the actual test papers, their practice tests will be similar to the real ones. You will even be able to find previous AP tests on the official website of the College Board, as they release full exam papers now and then. Note that the old exams might have an outdated format, but that doesn’t mean it’s not helpful material. You can still use them if you know how the current exam differs from those and which sections you need to skip. On the College Board website, the following are some other sources where you can find good-quality AP practice tests:

Sample Questions from the course and exam description booklet

Every AP course has a booklet with practice questions for every test section. Students can use this booklet to familiarize themselves with the exam pattern and the most recent test directions. To access the brochure, go to the College Board website, click on your desired exam from the list of AP courses, go to the “Course Overview” page, and find the link to the “AP Course and Exam Description.”

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Complete the Released AP Exams

It is much harder to find complete, previously released exams, but those are out there! Unfortunately, you will probably not be able to find any officially released exams on the website of the College Board except by Googling. The main reason might be that the College Board also sells copies of previous official exams; therefore, they don’t make it easy to find free last official exam copies online. 

Suppose you want free access to the complete exams. In that case, the best thing to do is to Google the name of your desired exam with “previously released College Board materials” or “fully released previous exam papers by College Board’ ‘. A Google search can also help you find the recently completed exams uploaded by schools or teachers. 

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I’m done with the College Board practice tests—what now?

If you have solved almost all the official practice tests you could lay your hands on and have enough time left for more, you may want to find good-quality unofficial sources for AP practice tests. Of course, practice tests are included in most AP preparation books. Some even contain complete practice exams at the back. Unfortunately, however, not all of those are of good quality. 

So, looking into the book before purchasing it would be best. You can compare the practice questions in these books with the official College Board practice questions to know if they will be helpful. You can also look for reviews on the practice tests in these preparation books by trying to find out what other students who have used them have to say about them. If most students point out that the practice tests of a specific preparation book helped them prepare for the exam, it is a good idea to check that book out. 

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You can also go about checking the questions in your textbook. If it has specifically been designed for AP courses, likely, the questions given at the back of the book or the end of the chapters align well with the actual College Board material. 

Conclusion

With the tips mentioned above in mind, you can build a robust library of good-quality practice tests for your AP exam preparation. Remember that these tests are essential study tools that, if used correctly, can help you achieve a higher score. 

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Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. Why should the practice tests be similar to the real exam?

A: Not only will the practice tests similar to the real exam help you gain the most familiarity with the actual exam format, making you feel the most comfortable on the exam day, but they will also impart a better understanding of how well you will be able to perform on the actual exam. Practice tests won’t be beneficial if they fail to impart real testing experience.

Q2. Is it ok if I skip solving practice AP exams altogether?

A: Preparing for an AP exam without solving a single practice AP exam is like getting ready for a bicycle race by just reading about bicycles without actually riding them. The additional knowledge will no doubt act as a boost, but riding the bike will prepare you much better.

Q3. Can practice AP exams be used to identify weak points?

A: Yes, they can. For example, if you consistently face difficulty answering questions on photosynthesis or language listening, you might need to focus more on these areas. Similarly, suppose you are performing exceptionally well on the MCQs but lacking short answers. In that case, you will know that you must put extra effort into practicing those questions. 

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