Emily Xie
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Academic Blog

Academic Blog

How not to fail your AP tests

If you want to be successful and not fail your AP tests, there are a few things you should do: 1. Find the test that you want to study, and find it on my blog and then figure out if its a good fit before you go off and try to study for it. For example, if you hate history, you probably don't want to study Art History (don't make the same mistake I did).

2. Go buy the review books. Make sure you buy books that are going to be helpful for you. As a general rule of thumb, Princeton Review books are pretty shallow and don't really give you very in-depth information, so if you really want to learn, don't use Princeton Review, but if you have a general idea of what you are doing, Princeton Review is a good way to review and do practice.

3. Actually read the review books that you buy. If you are going to spend a ton of money on AP tests and a ton of money on books, you are going to want to actually read them and make sure you know what you are doing

4. Utilize all the resources that you can, there are plenty of them out there (here are a few of them), and do all the practice that you possibly can.

5. Go to the College Board website and do as many old AP questions as you need to. Once you consistently score high and know what you are doing, you should be fine.

6. Check to make sure the curriculum hasn't changed since the day the AP book you bought was published. The AP Biology curriculum just changed this year, and I'm sure a lot of others have too, so you are going to want to make sure you know what is different and what is the same. Also, many books say that you are penalized for getting questions wrong, just know that that's not true, you get as many points as you get right.

7. That brings me to my next point, even if you don't know the answer, guess.

8. Write all over your test: studies have shown that if you actually write on the test you think more about the questions and are more likely to score higher.

9. Dress comfortably, if you've taken a test before, you know that it's not going to be the perfect temperature. It could be freezing or it could be sweltering hot. So, just dress in layers. Also, don't dress in the nicest outfit you have, you're just going be distracted by what you're wearing. I swear, I wore sweats and a sweatshirt every single day.

Quick Tip: if you aren't afraid of people laughing at you, wear slippers! My feet always get super cold when I'm in cold rooms, so I brought giant fuzzy socks and slippers, they practically saved my toes from freezing off

10. Start early, if you start the night before, you will probably be exhausted the next day, and you probably won't do superbly. So, start early. A good time to start on the "easier" APs would be spring break, that way you have enough time to read the book and review anything you don't know very well.

11. Stay organized. If you aren't organized and don't know where any of your books are, you're going to spend more time looking for things than actually doing anything productive, so stay on top of things and make sure you're organized.

12. Get off Facebook. This is easy to say and hard to do, I understand, but trust me, Facebook breaks are not productive, you end up just going to Facebook for "just 5 minutes" only to realize your break ended up being 45 minutes.

13. Sleep more. If you don't sleep, you aren't going to be able to think. So, once it hits around midnight, realize that even if you continue cramming, odds are you won't remember anything and you will be falling asleep during your test.

14. Just guess and move on. If you are sitting at your test, and you hit a question, and you realize, "I have no idea what that word is, and I have no idea what any of the answers mean" just guess. Odd are, if you don't know in the first 30 seconds, you aren't going to know after 10 minutes of staring at it. Plus, when you only have so much time allotted to answer the questions, you might as well just guess, put a star or something by it, and move on.

15. Do the easy free-response questions first. You don't want to run out of time working on a very difficult question only to realize that there was an easy one you didn't even start yet. You want to pick up as many points as possible. If you actually know what you are talking about on the easy question, you will probably get more points than the stuff you made up for the one you didn't know.

16. Write as much as you know down. Even if you don't know the answer to a question, just write what you know. You never know if you'll score a few points... Just make sure you save difficult questions for the end.

17. Don't feel bad if you don't feel like you did well. You need less than 70% to get a 5 for some tests, and even less to pass. Even if you feel bad when you're walking out, you never know if you might have actually passed. Plus, you can always drop any very bad scores after you see them.

18. Only take on what you can handle; if you can't handle 10 AP tests, don't take them. Don't feel pressured by anyone to take more tests than you can handle, same goes for AP classes. If you want to take a lot of AP tests, by all means do it, but if you know you can't handle it, don't do it, you'll just end up stressing yourself out and not doing well.

19. Don't get behind in your normal classes. Trust me, I did it, and now I'm paying the price. Make sure you keep up with the classwork that you are missing, you'll be glad you did.

20. Bring pencils and pens. Honestly, the best pencils in the whole wide world are the Ticonderoga Tri-Write pencils are the best. They have super soft erasers and are designed to be easy to grip. Also, find some pens that are comfortable to hold in your hand, the last thing you want to happen is have your hand cramp up with 10 minutes left. Also, if you are taking a test that allows the use of a calculator, don't forget your calculator, and don't forget extra batteries.

Any other ideas? comment here.