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Time to get ready for AP exams

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Fred Sides (10) getting an early start with studying for his AP test.

Fred Sides (10) getting an early start with studying for his AP test.

Fred Sides (10) getting an early start with studying for his AP test.

Rachel Chung, Copy Editor

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With second semester comes the need to start studying for the AP exams. Whether you have one or five AP tests, it’s an effective way to measure college readiness; high performance indicates your potential success in a college course. The test is graded on a 5-point scale with passing scores being 3 and above, which will grant you credits at most universities.

The exams last for two weeks, beginning on May 1 and ending on May 12. There is a fee of $92 for the test, but other than that, there isn’t much that you are risking.

“The AP test is a low-stakes, difficult test. You lose nothing besides the money you put forward to take this exam. Sometimes students think it is the end of the world if this exam does not go well. You still took the class, you still learned a lot, and you’re still going to get high school credit for that. It will not affect college admissions that you did not pass an AP exam; it will not destroy your future,” said AP World History and European History teacher, Mr. Matthew Clifford.

The AP exams show your qualifications if you were in an actual college course, so they are different from normal tests that you may take. They are more difficult and are based around questions that are stimulus-based rather than rote memorization.

“Students are used to just being able to answer; the question has an answer, and do you know it or not. The multiple choice is very different. They’re designed to not only assess knowledge, but also to assess your ability to analyze,” said Clifford.

Many students find the content and the length of the AP exam to be difficult and different to them. Unlike the second semester final exam period that occurs a couple of weeks later, the AP exam is based on content from the whole year. The test also takes about two to four hours, depending on the subject.

“If you’re in an AP class, it’s the entire year of curriculum. Typically when you take finals for other classes, it’s only one semester,” said Gina Liu (11).

However, there are benefits to taking the AP exam, outside of the college credit that you could receive.

“Once it’s done, it’s done. You don’t have to worry about it until the summer. It’s out of your mind. And if you’re in the AP class after you take the exam, you’re pretty much done with that class. Teachers take the school year pretty easily after that,” said Liu.

In order to prepare for the upcoming AP exams, it is better to start studying sooner rather than later. Preparing and studying for awhile beforehand gives you that upperhand of feeling assured and confident while entering the test.  

“Make a plan ahead of time. It comes up a lot quicker than you think it does. I recommend you start studying a lot earlier,” said Liu.

You should treat this AP exam like any other test, although there is more information to cover. Understanding your study habits and realizing what works best for you is essential to success on the AP exam and tests onward.

“You kind of have to know your study habits; whether you need a lot of time or little time, and whether you have a lot of stuff you’re having trouble with or whether it’s only a little stuff you have to review,” said Jessica Tartakovsky (12).

It’s also important to review resources that you have collected from the year, whether that be old study guides, notes, worksheets, outlines, or tests and quizzes.

“If your teacher lets you or if you have the tests or quizzes, those are definitely awesome resources. If you are in a class like APUSH or Physics, all of the tests were old AP exam questions, so there couldn’t have been a better way for me to know what types of questions I was looking to take,” said Tartakovsky.

A reoccurring top test-taking tip is to calm down and keep a clear head while taking the exam.

“Breathe; don’t panic or freak out. Just remember that the AP curve is insane; you honestly do a lot better than you think. Don’t stress out too much, and just try to get through it,” said Liu.

There are time limits on different portions of the exam, so you have to watch the clock and manage your time.

“You have to manage your time well. They give you time limits, and it sucks because if you don’t answer all the questions, it’s not helpful for you. Answer all of the questions; there is no penalty for guessing,” said Tartakovsky.

Most people study by using AP exam books, which you can find in Barnes and Noble or online. There are many different publishers, such as Barron’s, Kaplan, The Princeton Review, etc. They have lots of practice tests with multiple choice questions and essays. Additionally, they also consist of a comprehensive review of the content and tips for taking each part of the test.

“Look into a review book, and your teacher will tell you which review book they think will help prepare you for success. Review books are really great because they outline the skills that you need, the knowledge you need. I think your teacher will help guide you on when you should purchase or when they are going to reference or work with you into that,” said Clifford.  

Although you want to do well on these AP exams, it is not the end of the world if you do not get a passing score. All it gives you is college credit and/or whether you can pass the same course during college. The best way to ensure success would be to take the measures to study a little bit early on. Take the usual protocol you normally take before a big test, and just make sure you are prepared.

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Time to get ready for AP exams