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Tips to Prepare for AP Exams

AP exams take place in May each year, and students must prepare and organize a school year’s worth of material into a manageable study schedule before the exams. Doing well in an AP course may raise a student’s GPA, and by earning a 4 or 5 on an exam, students can even receive college course credit before stepping foot on a college campus.

Students can take AP courses and exams on a variety of subjects, including Calculus AB and BC, biology, and world history. Even students who are unable to take certain AP courses can self-study for AP exams in order to showcase their academic mettle to colleges. Ask an IvyWise counselor which APs you should independently prepare for.

Some students may prepare for just one AP test in addition to their regular final exams. For others, APs will make up every final exam for the year. Preparing for one or multiple AP exams is not an easy endeavor; it takes a high level of organization, lots of planning time, and some effective study techniques to be ready for the test. At IvyWise, our expert counselors and tutors help students develop and implement realistic score goals and tutoring schedules to get the most out of preparing for AP exams.

Here are some preparation and study tips for students taking AP exams!

  • Know Yourself: Are you the self-starter who can develop an organized study plan and execute it effectively, or do you need help figuring out just where to start? If you’re the type that needs more guidance, it’s important to recognize when to ask for help. Tutoring is a great way for you to get professional help developing a study plan, and also conquer material and concepts that you might be behind on. AP exams, unlike standardized tests, are less about test-taking strategy and focus more on the actual content, so it’s important to make sure you’re fully armed with the knowledge you need come test day.Now through April 30, IvyWise is offering a special promotion for families who sign up for tutoring and test prep services. Contact us for more information.
  • Don’t Cram, Start Preparing Early: Earlier is better when it comes to studying for AP exams. Don’t let them sneak up on you, and don’t underestimate the time that goes into earning a 4 or a 5. Start mapping out a study plan now, and decide which materials you will cover on which days and for how long. By preparing early, you can make note of any problems or concepts you may find confusing and you will have time to sit down with a teacher, tutor, or your classmates to get your questions answered ahead of time.
  • Use Practice Materials: AP exam guidebooks are an excellent way to help you study, because test experts organize most of the material for you! These guides provide test material, study plans, practice questions, and more to help you prepare for the exam. Flashcards are another way to help you memorize facts at home, in school, and on the go. Make your own or buy a stack of pre-made flashcards to keep in your backpack in the weeks leading up to the exam. Ask us about the best resources out there.
  • Meet With Your Teachers: Most students enrolled in AP courses will take the AP exam for each class the same year. Your AP class teachers are excellent resources for study material, practice tests, and exam tips. When you begin to organize your course materials, look through the information and compile a list of questions or topics that need clarification. Ask the teacher of your AP class to hold a special study session where you and members of your class can work through any difficult material with an expert. You can also stay after school once a week to review new material with your teacher to help reduce study time later on.
  • Study in Groups: Some students prefer to study alone, but AP exams are a tough challenge to face solo. Organize study sessions with classmates to talk about material, quiz one another, and outline ideas and responses for possible essay questions. Start with a weekly study group, and as the AP exams approach, meet multiple times a week to review notes and provide support.
  • Stay Calm: Stressing out about exams will not help you achieve your goal score. Instead of becoming flustered, relax, breathe, and stay focused on your plan. The more organized you are, the less you will have to be anxious about, so avoid those pre-exam jitters by taking each day at a time and remembering to take time to yourself once in awhile.


AP exams are an excellent opportunity to showcase your knowledge and academic drive to teachers and colleges. Instead of stressing out about the process, start studying now so you can achieve your goal score. If you need help creating a strategic study plan, contact us today for more information on IvyWise’s tutoring services.

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