By Ava Kesler
The daunting month of May is fast approaching. While that does mean summer is almost here (yayy!), it also entails the hurdle of the 2 weeks of AP testing that will be occurring this year in early May.
In just 6 weeks, the official beginning of AP exams will be upon us.
From what I can tell, most AP classes consist of 8-10 units of material. This means that the time to be reviewing is NOW.
A lot of classes probably aren't even done with all the material, but they are done with most of it. Take the time now to begin reviewing.
Keep reading to see several of the most effective study methods.
You can try all of them for each of your AP classes, or switch it up a bit. Pick and choose elements from all these tips and apply them to yourself and own study habits.
STEP ONE: PLAN
Before you can get started on any study prep, it is always wise to make a plan for when and how often you will be studying. Be realistic with yourself. Remember, thus far you have been dealing with school and general homework without the added stress of studying for exams. Now, you will need to balance school, extracurriculars, and now AP prep on top of it.
I used to be a loyal paper planner-user. But, after what I must admit was an incident of just misplacing my planner for a week, I became intrigued by online calendars.
I now use Google Calendar, and find it much easier to use for planning long-term things such as this.
There is so much you can do with Google Calendar, and here is a hypothetical example of how well-organized it can keep you with both your school and outside life.
My favorite thing about Google Calendar over any other online calendar is that it has a very simple interface, meaning I can input everything I need to do very quickly and easily, almost as simple as getting the right pen to jot down an assignment.
The next great thing about Google Calendar is you can easily color code. This obviously has its organizational benefits, but Google Calendar's display is minimalistic and aesthetic.
Choose what days and what time you will be reviewing for your AP exams.
For example, you could do Sundays at 4pm. Having an actual time of day is one of the most effective ways of keeping yourself accountable for studying at home. No more, "oh I'll do it in 10 minutes." You know you have to work at 4pm, so you will adjust your day to fit that (within reason of course.)
STEP TWO: OUTLINE
At the early stages of review, you need to refresh your mind on what all happened this year. One way I like to do this is by outlining. It is a simple and efficient method to compartmentalize all the material covered.
Many vocabulary terms have likely blurred together over the course of the months, and not only does this mean recall issues, but also causes a feeling of stress that is completely unnecessary.
To make an outline, go through a review book, such as the Princeton Review Books, and skim the material for the bold or prominent words.
Make a list of these, defining ONLY the ones you are less familiar with.
This method is very time-consuming. I recommend it if you have a more flexible and open schedule in which you can dedicate more time to studying. If you don't, then consider only using this method for one of your harder classes, or one where you often feel more confused and overwhelmed with the material- not by the difficulty, but by the quantity.
STEP THREE: PRACTICE EXAMS
I cannot stress enough how important these are.
You could study your heart out and live off any review book, if you don't actually take a legitimate practice exam, it is virtually impossible to do well on the exam, at least easily. And right now you have it in your power to prepare for the exam, so why not help your future self as much as possible.
HOWEVER, you also can't just take a practice test every weekend and expect to get a 5. You MUST review what you missed to see any progress.
Ideally you'd follow these steps:
small sections of the test each day
1+ practice test(s) in the 3 weeks leading up to your exam
However, I do emphasize the "ideally."
This routine is very difficult to keep for every one of your AP classes amongst life. This means you should alter it best suiting your needs.
For example, instead of each day, you could take small quizzes every other day.
Or instead of sitting down for 30 or more minutes each night, you could just do
5-10 questions every morning at breakfast.
If you have a down day in class, you could easily do some review then.
Regardless of your schedule, ultimately seeing real questions, with the same wording, style, and material that you will on the exam, is the best and most beneficial way to review.
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