While we students like to consider May home stretch, we have yet another hurdle to conquer, and that’s AP exams.
The AP exam is not your friend. It is very different from the SAT or the ACT or state skills exams. The trick to studying and scoring a coveted 4 or a 5 on your AP exam is knowing what you’re getting yourself into.
The tricks that help you with other tests rarely apply. If you didn’t know already, there are often two right answers in the multiple choice. The instructions on every AP are very particular in asking you to select the BEST answer.
For example, on an English exam one answer will always be “more right” than the other, the hard part is knowing which one. If there are two answers that are similar, the answer that encompasses the other one is usually the correct option.
Study Tip: Know your literary devices and major vocabulary terms. This way you can recognize similar answers and knock out unrelated choices.
Releases from previous tests are available from AP Central. You can use these releases to determine what sections of the course material are covered the most. After all, there’s no need to become an expert in on something that won’t be on the test.
Study Tip: Spend your time studying what you know will be covered.
In addition, there are two basic types of AP Questions: Regurgitated and Analytical.
Regurgitated questions are questions that are either asked or contain the correct answer exactly as it is stated in the book. These questions are heavily found in the Biology, Chemistry, and World History exams.
Analytical questions are the tricky ones.
These questions ask you to take what you would have read in your book or selection, apply it as well as other concepts, and come to the same conclusion the question writer did.
Watch out for these questions in the Environmental Science, US History, and English exams.
Study Tip: Make sure that you understand more than just what the book says. You’ll need to know how the book’s different concepts interact with each other. You’ll need to know how they form the big picture.
The Open Response
Every exam has an open response portion. There’s no escaping it. It is actually easier to study for these than many people believe.
Your teacher or review book has probably already told you the number of free response questions you’ll have on a given test. Well, the exams have general topic areas for the free response questions that you can know ahead of time.
A common type of essay question you may face could ask you to incorporate examples from various sources. Take for instance the English essay, which could ask you to cite two literary works, one from a novel and one from a poem.
How do you tackle these kinds of questions?
Study Tip: Aim to become an expert on at least two areas/books that you can apply to a wide range of topics. Then write a response that makes the prompt fit into what you understand.
Finally, the graders of the AP free response questions go through dozens of tests an hour. They are taught to look for very specific things.
Let’s say you have a question with multiple parts (as in question #1 with parts a, b, and c) and you label which paragraph answers the given section, that is the only place they will look for the answer. Your entire answer is not used to give you points for all the sections.
BONUS Test Taking Tip: Answer the question in paragraphs but don’t mark them with the section letter on the side.
AP exams are admittedly a doozie, but far from impossible to conquer. Incorporate these tricks into your study strategy to get the most out of your prep work, and when test day comes you’ll be one step ahead of the game.
Did you sign up to take an AP exam? Why or Why not? Tell us in the comments below.