AP testing tips

AP tests are just around the corner, read this article to catch some last minute tips for studying and test taking!

Graphic by Ilana Zahavy ’24

College Board’s Advanced Placement (AP) exams are beginning in schools across the world, and LM students are busy preparing for these rigorous tests. Due to the pandemic, tests are being distributed in three sessions, called “Administrations,” the first of which began on May 3. LM opted to offer AP exams during Administration 2 this year, from May 18 through May 28. Although it may be too late to begin these practices, many of these strategies can be utilized for alternative tests or future AP exams.

Start studying well ahead of time. Create a schedule to break up review into manageable portions across a longer period of time to prevent last-minute cramming. Begin by reviewing key concepts and utilize practice materials to assist you.

Take advantage of the past. Use official AP study materials and tests from previous years to get a sense for the type of questions you will be asked.

Study the format. Learn about the structure, content, and order of the specific exam(s) you are taking. For example, there may be a document-based question, multiple choice, short answer, and/or long essay section. Utilize practice exams to make sure you are familiar and comfortable with the timing, question types, and structure.

Study with others. Recognize that your peers have strengths that can help you address your weak points, and vice versa. Also, teaching others is one of the best ways to make sure you fully understand the material yourself.

Ask for help. Your instructor, a tutor at school, or an outside tutoring company are often trained to teach you in ways that make topics easier to understand. They are also likely to be familiar with the test and help you prepare in specific ways that could be personalized for you.

Install the 2021 Digital AP Exams application on your school computer. This can be found in Self Service, which requires you to be connected to LMSD wifi at any of the ten district schools. Log in with your College Board account to access information for the AP courses you’re registered for.

Complete Digital Practice on the 2021 Digital AP Exams app. This program simulates AP exam questions and previews the format. It also helps you understand the platform and ensure that the technology functions on your computer.

Set up the exam on your computer one to three days before the exam. You can use the “Exam Setup” feature in the app to complete this step.

Use the app to check in for the exam thirty minutes before it begins. According to College Board, “If students don’t start check-in before the start time of the exam, they won’t be allowed to test and will have to request a makeup exam.”

Stay hydrated. Drinking water to stay alert and comfortable during the test so you can focus on the test itself is also critical for positive performance.

Bring a snack. High-protein foods and complex carbs will keep you energized and sustained through the entire exam.

Read questions carefully and thoroughly. Make sure you identify what the prompt is asking when responding to longer questions so you ensure that you stay on topic. 

Maximize your timing. Complete the easy questions that come more naturally and quickly, then circle back to the more difficult questions. If you feel yourself struggling or confused on a particular question, leave it for later because your brain will continue working through it subconsciously. Later, you may have more clarity to address it.

Answer all questions. AP tests do not penalize wrong answers, so you can only benefit from filling out questions, even if you don’t know the answer. Eliminate as many answers as you can before guessing to increase your chances. 

Watch the clock. You are allowed to bring a personal watch if it is silent. Doing so can make sure you manage your time across questions to have time to finish.

Plan your answers. When facing longer free response questions,

organizing your thoughts before starting to write can help you connect ideas better, make a stronger argument, and keep your points coherent.  

Stay positive. Even if you hit an obstacle or a frustrating patch, don’t lose faith. Tell yourself that you are doing great and focus on what went well.

You’ve worked hard for this exam so be proud of what you accomplished. It has certainly been a difficult year and this is quite an achievement. Good luck!