How to Prepare for AP Classes and Exams

Learn how to conquer challenging AP classes and exams with the confidence of a soon-to-be college student

By Sydney Nikols | March 18, 2014

It's important that you make room for some extra study time in order to get ready for the exam.
Photo: Thinkstock

It’s normal to have a few concerns before taking your first AP class or exam, but don’t let those worries hinder your success. If you know what to expect and how to prepare, your experience with The College Board’s AP program will be a positive and rewarding one.

What to Expect from an AP Class

In order to quell some of the mystery surrounding AP classes, The College Board has helpfully outlined what students can expect from taking an AP course. The board explains that their 30-plus AP classes are designed to be college-level courses that take place in a high school setting. The challenging classes dole out heavy workloads, ultimately giving you a leg up by allowing you to “take risks in a familiar setting, gaining confidence and a rewarding experience in addition to college credit and placement.” The classes are meant to help you learn how to manage your own time, just like you’ll have to do in college. Generally, you can expect your AP course to be immersive, hands-on, dialogue-centric and collaborative, all in ways that will ultimately help you prepare for being a successful college student.

The best way to prepare for an AP exam is by taking the corresponding class.

How to Prepare for an AP Class

As a first step towards succeeding in your upcoming AP class, make sure to complete your summer homework thoroughly, making an effort to understand all of the concepts involved. If you’re confused about a certain idea, ask your teacher for further explanation as soon as the course begins. Small gaps in understanding can lead to big heaps of confusion, ultimately threatening your ability to do well in the course and on the exam.

Once the class has begun, start experimenting with different study strategies. Try studying alone, in a group, using flashcards, writing outlines, etc. Implementing trial and error is the best way to discover which study methods work best for you, and the sooner you figure this out, the sooner you’ll find success.

Finally, procrastination is your worst enemy when it comes to excelling in an AP course. Never wait until the last minute to complete an assignment or study for an exam. Give yourself plenty of time to make sure that your homework and studying sessions are completed thoroughly and properly. The best way to ensure success is to make sure you don’t fall behind!

Once the class has begun, start experimenting with different study strategies.
Photo: Thinkstock

How to Prepare for an AP Exam

The best way to prepare for an AP exam is by taking the corresponding class, so if you’re enrolled in one of these, you’re already ahead of the game. That being said, it’s still important that you make room for some extra study time in order to get ready for the exam. The best way to study on your own is to take a mock test by answering the practice questions posted on The College Board’s website. You should aim for a score of 4 or 5; either of these will impress college admissions officers and most likely earn your college course credit.

Remember: These classes and exams are challenging, but that doesn’t mean you can’t conquer them. With the right approach and work ethic, you can head to college knowing you achieved your personal best with The College Board’s AP program.

People Who Read This Article Also Read:

AP Classes: An Introduction
How to Choose the Right AP Classes
Know the Facts About AP Tests Before Test Day
Seniors: Complete Your AP Tests Before Summer

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