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AP Exams: What are they and how to prepare for them?

Updated: May 14, 2022

Advanced Placement or most commonly known as AP exams is one of the exams that is taken by college-bound students. These exams hold a lot of value for students leaving high school as the scores are extremely important for college applications. Some universities even offer college credit if you score well on these exams, so it's imperative that you prepare well and start much beforehand. Due to the pandemic, there was a lot of disruption in the testing process and they were offered. But for test dates that are going to take place in May 2021, it is most likely that the standardized in-person process will be used, so we can expect the same 3-hour marathon sessions as earlier. For more information on test dates and registration, visit the link below:

The official dates for the exams have been released for the 2021 examination cycle. Along with that, the test center information has also been published on the official website. You can check them out here:

Now that we have discussed what these exams are, let’s get into how to prepare for them.

The AP exams are long 3 hour exams that can be really taxing for the mind and body at the same time. This is why many students prefer to start working on their exam 3-4 months prior to the exam. This helps them get used to the pattern of the exam and also prepare themselves for staying focused for such a long period of time. You can follow the steps below to begin preparing for your AP exams.

1. Gather all materials & resources you need to prepare

Review what you need to learn and what kind of resources you need. So, first start with what subjects you have, what the syllabus is, and what the exam format is like. Make sure you have all the up-to-date information and in case you’re unsure, please confirm with your teachers again. It’s best to compare your class syllabus with the College Board’s syllabus because your teachers are required to stay within the prescribed syllabus even though they might cover certain topics in more detail.

Make sure that you review the topics that have not been covered in detail before the ones you’re familiar with. This will give you an upper hand on what you don’t understand or know yet. Also, look at your previous exam scores and where you went wrong and this will give you an idea of where to start first. Be prepared to answer any format of questions that might be given. This is why it’s important to familiarize yourself with the exam pattern and question types.

You can check the syllabus here:

2. Make a study schedule

This is important as it will help you keep yourself on track and make sure that all the topics have been given enough time. Once you’ve listed out the topics make sure you have prepared a schedule right up until the month before it. So that you can use the next month just reviewing the topics that you’ve been preparing for the past couple of months. It’s always best to start off thinking about the content review and changing your practice to exam preparation as the dates get closer. This helps with easing the process in and keeping your nerves calm.

3. Finding resources to use

The biggest resources are your own textbooks and nothing will fail you from that aspect. In case you have trouble understanding certain subjects or concepts, you can always use online websites such as Youtube, Khan Academy, etc. It’s always best to make your own resources such as flashcards, personal notes, etc. can help you learn better but also retain the information longer.

Always practice these exams as well as it will help you do well on the actual exam day. You can access a few questions and papers from the College Board’s own website over here. Otherwise, a google search could result in past papers that cannot be found on the original website.

4. Start studying!

Now, you have all that you need to study and all you have to do is start studying! January is the ideal time to start preparing for the long exam and will give you ample time to prepare as well. Always make sure to stick to your schedule and study in small bits instead of cramming in long sessions as you will not be able to retain the information.

You can register for the AP exams that will be held in three different test periods this year that run from the first week of May right until the last week of June. You can book your tests in any of these 3 cycles but make sure you're prepared well! The registration dates close between March 8 - 12, 2021 depending on which center you are applying to. You can register at the link given below.

Good luck!

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