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How to Conquer an AP Test

April 26, 2017

Let’s be honest: most of us are freaking out because we have APs the next two weeks. We’re all at different stages of comfort with the material. Some of us have been working hard all year, and some of us have not been. If you’re in the latter group, this guide can’t really solve all your conceptual issues, but it could still help you test at peak performance.

First off, know what tests you have to take. I would look at your schedule to see whether there is anything that says “AP” in front of a class name.

Second, know when those tests will take place.

Okay, now you know when to go, which is very important for getting a score above a zero. Thirdly, you’re going to want to study. And, like every day. This doesn’t have to be a hard-core, 7-hour marathon study. You can simply watch a few YouTube videos on the topic (crashcourse is really good), reread notes, or rehash some old homework problems. These small actions add up in your long-term memory, so you won’t blank when it’s test day.

Step four: focus on the material that you have really forgotten and don’t understand yet. Make flashcards, do harder AP-style questions, and study hard. Do this an hour or more each day leading up to the exam. When you start this step depends on how confident you feel, but don’t get too cocky. Spend at least two days on this step.

The fifth step takes place on the night before exams. This is when you cram. “Cramming” is just really motivated studying. The motivation is fear. Look over the entire course really briefly and then focus on the hard stuff. Do this until about 10:00, 12:00 at the absolute latest. Why?

Step six: YOU HAVE TO SLEEP. Excuse the caps, but sleep is absolutely vital to keeping all the information you just studied in your head. Sleep forms memories, and you want memories when you are testing. You want to be able to reach into your head and pull out all information relating to the Gadsden Purchase, right? Right. So, please sleep. I recommend 9-7 hours. Make sure your alarm is set. I might even set two, and check to see if you set it to PM or AM, which is a thing that happens a lot.

Seventh step, eat a healthy breakfast. You do not want to be hungry during the exam. Your focus should be on force and momentum, not on whether you should go to Dunkin. And on the flip side, eat something that will nourish you, not a donut or a stick of butter. Your blood sugar will crash and burn, or you’ll feel queasy from the bad meal and the anxiety. Fuel your body—and your mind—correctly.

Eighth step: You need to get to the school. Have your parents, siblings, neighbors, friends, anyone drive you. The bus is willing to drive you to school, too. Be there on time, bring #2 pencils, a calculator if you need one, and a positive attitude. Also, I recommend water and a snack.

There are certainly way more steps than I thought there would be, but sure enough, all those things are important to do. Good luck out there, kids. High 5’s for all (AP pun).

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