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How to Get a 5 on Your AP Exams

By Ava Kesler

AP exams are just around the corner, and if you haven't already started studying, you better get started now. I have gotten all 5's and 4's on all 11 of the AP exams I have taken so far in my high school career, and as a senior preparing for my final 5 exams, I have some tips to share that I've learned along the way.


1. Make a timeline

The ideal timeline gives you 2 months to review material. But even if you only start studying today, there's still time. Here's the ideal way to divide your time productively to prepare.


Weekdays: Review material, with 1-2 units per week.

Weekends: Take full-length practice tests.

The Weekend Before the Exam: Review all missed questions from practice tests.


If you have more than one AP exam to prepare for, make sure you study all of them each week. As someone who as taken as many as 6 AP's in a single school year, here's what I learned:

- Prioritize based on which exams come first

- Give attention to each AP class each week- don't neglect any class no matter how comfortable you feel with the material

- Focus on practice tests and less on highlighting and reading material

- Color code your corrections on your practice tests for each class to keep the subjects separate from each other in your mind

2. Decide what you're going to study

Start by looking over CollegeBoard's Course at a Glance for each of your AP classes. This can be accessed by googling "AP __ Course at a Glance" or by going to the following link: https://apcentral.collegeboard.org/courses.


These helpful 1-2 page sheets give a bullet point list of the content covered in each unit as defined by CollegeBoard. You can find more in-depth descriptions provided by CollegeBoard, but this Course at a Glance is the most comprehensive.


Scan this sheet and review any content that sound unfamiliar to you. This is a great way to make sure you don't miss any content while also reviewing everything you can expect to see on the exam.


Looking over past tests from class could also be helpful, but given the need for time-efficiency, it really only makes sense to use these Course at a Glance sheets to then know where to direct your study efforts. Your high school class material may not be as similar to the nationally standardized expectations, so stick with what CollegeBoard provides. Your classwork is great for learning, but not so great for reviewing.


3. Stay on schedule

The worst thing you could do for yourself is get behind on reviewing for the exam. Make a schedule and stick with it. Dedicating yourself to just one hour of review a week can make the difference of passing or failing the AP exam.


Even if you don't stick with your timeline as well as you wanted, don't stop. It may not be the perfect study schedule, but any studying is better than none. Stay focused.


4. Review missed answers

It's so easy to complete a practice test, and then call it a day. Finishing a review session gives you a huge sense of accomplishment, but few realize that you aren't truly done studying until you've reviewed what your weaknesses are. If you complete a practice test, take 10 minutes to rest and have a snack, then review. See where you went wrong in your practice.

4. Don't get discouraged

You need to mess up accidentally on these practice tests. Don't be discouraged.


I can guarantee you there will be something on the AP exam that you've never seen before. It's going to happen. So power through anything you don't know on the practice exam so that you are more ready to deal with these hurdles.


It's easy to get discouraged and give up, but don't. For example, on my first practice AP Calc BC exam I got around a 50%. Ouch. But I kept taking practice tests and reviewing what I missed, and I ended up getting a 5 on the exam.


You get out what you put in.


Even if you feel like there's no progress on your practice tests, don't stop trying. Just reassess your study methods. Consider checking out other study methods that MyMind'sMap actually describes.

5. Get a review book

Review books are available everywhere, even on MyMind'sMap. All the books available here are those which I have previously used. These books get results. They are gently used, so you will have the added benefit of using my notes as well as the book's content. They are also at a discounted rate than what can be found elsewhere such as on Amazon. All proceeds will go to supporting mental health organizations, so not only are you helping yourself succeed at these tests, but you're also helping the greater population deal with mental health.


 

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