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AP Testing

Approximately 570 students are enrolled in AP classes this year, and with AP tests coming up in May, students are finding that they need to study more than ever before. With a variety of subjects involved in the AP curriculum offered on campus, there are a plethora of students that are in a stressful pursuit of passing the test. AP teachers are concluding their units this semester, tying off loose ends, and handing out review packets designated towards the upcoming tests. Preparing for an AP test can be overwhelming, but study tips can be a huge aid. Studying can be the one thing that drives a score from a two to a five. It’s important to do well on the AP test because when college approaches, passing students probably won’t have to pay $500 to wake up at 8:00 am every morning for a dreadful lecture in which a dull professor drones on about a previously learned concept. Instead, the student will sleep in because they earned those college credits. What sounds better?

Reviewing textbooks is a great way to study. They help explain main concepts and big ideas, while pointing out facts and information that may be useful in the future. Studies have shown that while students enjoy working and learning on a device, their performance and grades do not improve. “Their actual performances tend to drop,” writes Patricia A. Alexander and Lauren M. Singer in their research on learning and text comprehension on paper and on devices.  Even though the endless pages of tiny black script can look intimidating, textbooks provide a great deal of beneficial information as well as study tips, conceptual questions, and practice problems. Study guides are also deemed a useful tool when it comes to prepping for an AP test. “Five Steps To A Five” is a study guide that the AP Physics teacher recommended. This study guide takes students through five helpful steps to achieve a high score on an AP test. 

Start studying early. Doing so will allow more time to gain confidence in the given unit. So, why not start now? A short study session everyday alone will be enough to get a head start on the curriculum at hand. Just five to ten minutes a day is all you need. A study revealed that not only do students who give their brains more time to absorb the information, retain more information, but that spaced learning helps students score higher on tests. Paul Kelley, a research associate at Oxford University, says that students who take regular breaks from studying tend to retain information better. For instance, one can spend ten minutes daily reviewing AP Chemistry with flashcards right before getting into bed, watching a review video for AP World History while waiting at the bus stop, or even looking over some practice AP Physics questions during passing periods or seminar. Studying in groups can also be a great strategy. Students can quiz each other on their knowledge and take turns conducting practice tests. 

Ask a lot of questions. It is virtually impossible to fully grasp a concept without asking lots of questions. Scientists say that there’s a more effective tactic that students don’t turn to enough, and that is to ask for help.  Researchers at Saint Louis University looked at about 400 college students in introductory science classes. The students who asked their teachers for help during school hours were more likely to get A’s, but less than 1 in 5 students asked for help. Overall, asking for help can help your grade. 

Construct a personalized study schedule. It doesn’t have to be perfectly color-coded or smothered with sticky notes, just little reminders to study for an AP test is just enough. When optimal productivity times are depending on other obligations. If a student is active and awake in the afternoon, they should utilize that time to study. Make sure to keep in mind other homework assignments and academic needs. Studying in small chunks keeps the workload manageable, so try to stick to one subject a night, day, or afternoon. 

Practice going over past AP test questions. Students shouldn’t walk into the test without looking at a sample Free Response Question, just like one shouldn’t jump in a pool having never been swimming before. Tests often use similar questions and similar topics on the test compared to tests in the past, so it’s a smart move to practice studying them, in turn.

Prioritize time for yourself, not around social obligations. Friends may not fully  understand what one is preparing for, especially if they haven’t taken an AP class themselves. Students need the time to study for this test,and they shouldn’t feel guilty about it. 

Hydrate, eat well, and sleep enough. Despite probably hearing this a lot, these few things are extremely important. One can feel a lot more energized when one simply drinks enough water. Additionally, students need nutrition to properly function. Sleep is also really important for studying. Thanks to many studies, we know that sleep is crucial for forming long-term memories of what we have encountered during the day. “The sleeping brain replays the day’s experiences and stabilizes them by moving them from the hippocampus, where they are first formed, to regions across the brain.” says Bahar Gholipour in his article on sleep learning. The brain helps one remember everything that was learned that day while one sleeps. 

Just these few tips for studying can be the difference for passing an AP test. Students don’t want to fail the AP test and have to retake the whole class in college, right? Prioritize studying for the AP test. Only a couple months are left!

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