10 ways to pass your AP exams


AP exam schedule for 2017.

With AP tests right around the corner, students are wondering how to study in order to get a passing score.

These tests, normally about three and a half hours in length, frighten all students every May. These tests correlate with AP classes that students have the option to take every year.

AP, or Advanced Placement, exams are graded on a scale from 1 to 5, where a 3 is considered a passing score. Passing these exams can allow students to gain college credit, which down the road can save both time and money. Exams are $93 a piece.

The exams will start Monday, May 1 and end on Friday, May 12. For a full schedule click here.

1.  Start studying early: This is not a test that you can cram for. There is a lot of information to know and skills to be gained in order to succeed in these college-level exams. AP U.S. History teacher Mr. Gwinn said, “most important, is putting in the appropriate time three weeks or so before the test to review and solidify the materials and concepts,” and added, “AP students are fooling themselves if they think cramming for two days will help. It just doesn’t happen.”

2.  Buy a prep book: You might see students starting to walk around with their big Princeton Review Prep books or their much smaller Crash Course prep books. Sam Hertle, who has taken and passed six AP tests and will take six more this year said, “I like to use the Princeton Review books because it does a nice job of summing up the material in a condensed form.”

Princeton Review and Crash Course AP prep books students find helpful when studying.

3.  Don’t Stress: Have confidence in your studying and knowledge of the subject. You have studied hard and worked hard all year. Aim high, but remember a three is still a passing score. Mr. Gwinn said, “the students who generally go above average [in working hard during the year and studying in advance] can pass any AP test they take.”

4.  Study with a friend: Explaining material or confusing subjects can help you to better understand it. Even helping out a friend allows you to better understand the subject. Planning to meet up and study can also keep each other motivated to study. “I like to study with my friends because it motivates me to actually get it done,” confirms senior Morgan Quagliata, who has recently started studying for her four AP tests.

5.  Watch Youtube videos: Many APUSH students praise Adam Norris for all of his videos reviewing all the material for the AP test. AP macroeconomics students find AC/DC Econ videos helpful in learning the material and reviewing before tests and AP exams. Junior Brandon Figuroea said “Adam Norris is informative, it helps to hear a new person explain the material.”

6.  Go to study sessions: Many AP teachers hold study sessions the weeks before the exam. Going in asking questions to clarify material and learning what your teacher deem important is a helpful way to begin reviewing or wrap up loose ends. AP government teacher Ms. Guscetti said, “Study sessions are great to clarify information and allow you to have a small group discussion.”

7.  Take practice tests: The college board releases free response questions from previous years online. Also, AP prep books have practice tests in them. Do them all it really helps especially on skill rather than content based assessments such as the AP english exams. Senior Ellie O’Donoghue said, “Since it’s a timed test, knowing what I’m getting myself into and how to pace myself gives me one less thing to worry about.”

Senior Ellie O’Donoghue takes an AP English practice test online.

8.  Make your own study guide: Students who make their own study guides have found that it helps them to remember the material. Going through a textbook or class notes allows students to see all the content of the class and summarize the most important details into a study guide. Figuroea said “making study guides allows me to go back and review all the information and bring it back into my memory.”

9.  Get enough sleep the night before and eat a good breakfast: Being well rested and giving your brain the proper fuel can allow you to do your own best. If you can’t think critically because you are too tired, you will be more likely to lose points that you otherwise could have earned. Senior Sophie Rodriguez who has passed many AP exams said, “My dad always tells me to get a good night’s sleep not only the night before the test, but two nights before as well. He says it takes awhile to fully recharge your battery.”

10.  Work hard all year: If you have been paying attention and doing your work all year it should be easier to pass this test. Staying on top of your work and thoroughly reading your textbook will help you further learn and retain the information, so when you study for the AP exam it is a review of already known information. Mr. Gwinn said, “the amount of effort given during the school year is critical in trying to understand and remember info in a stressful environment.”