Tips for AP Exams and what they mean for your future

As the end of the school year approaches, AP Exam testing is nearing for many of Cherokee’s students. It is extremely easy for students to lose motivation during this time of the year, but it is incredibly important to stay focused as you begin to prepare for AP Exams.

The benefits of AP classes

As a freshman, many students are told that it is important to take AP classes in order to strengthen their transcript before applying to colleges. But what actually are AP classes?

According to PrepScholar, “Advanced Placement is a program run by the College Board (the makers of the SAT) that allows you to take special high school courses that can earn you college credit and/or qualify you for more advanced classes when you begin college.” AP courses are designed to give students the experience of an into-level college course while they are still in high school.

College Board’s Advanced Placement program allows high school students to take college-level courses. [Source: Green Valley HS]

AP classes are offered in a variety of subjects, ranging from AP Drawing to AP Environmental Science. As of 2020, “About 2.8 million students take AP Exams every year in 38 subjects” (according to PrepScholar). While there is a multitude of reasons to take AP classes, there are three main reasons that make these courses more valuable than others.

1. AP classes can boost college applications

Taking an AP class, or multiple AP classes, in high school is a great way to boost your transcript and to challenge yourself academically. Colleges love to see that students are challenging themselves and are working their hardest on their education.

Taking AP Classes can help to boost your college applications. [Source: GA Futures]

2. They can show a student’s passion in a specific subject

Since there are so many AP courses, taking some of these specialized courses can help students determine their interests and can also show colleges that they are passionate about a specific field. For example, if a student is passionate about music, they may want to consider taking AP Music Theory. Moreover, if a student wants a career as an engineer, they may enjoy taking advances courses such as AP Physics and AP Calculus.

3. Students can receive college credit

One of the most significant benefits of taking AP courses is the ability to receive college credit for a passing AP Exam score (3, 4, or 5). Receiving college credit allows the student the possibility of bypassing intro courses in college and graduating earlier. This can be a major benefit when it comes to the extreme costs of a college education.

This graphic explains the grading system of AP Exams. [Source: The University Network]

While most colleges allow students to gain credit for their courses, some schools do not accept AP credits in place of college credits. Colleges also have different policies on what scores they choose to accept. Here is the College Board’s database for determining what scores are accepted at specific colleges.

Tips for AP Exams

1. Start studying early

It is incredibly important to start studying ahead of time to avoid having to cram later. Try to schedule small and regular review sessions with friends or a teacher to prepare for the exam. If possible, review the material after each unit is completed, so it never feels as if content is slipping your mind.

Most students tend to cram before a big test. Avoid the stress by starting your study plan earlier. [Source: Best Colleges]

2. Study with other students

Forming study groups is a great way to study for AP Exams, especially when dealing with content that is challenging. Studying together is a good way to get simple questions answered and to get help from other students that may know the material better than you do. It’s also helpful to study with a friend or classmate when using flash cards and other study aids that may require having someone check your answers.

3. Take practice exams

One of the easiest ways to study for AP Exams is to take practice exams. These practice exams closely resemble the test that you will be taking on the actual exam day. It is important to take multiple practice exams to get used to the questions, timing, and how the test is structured. Students can find practice tests on the College Board’s website by using these steps and in review books such as Princeton Review and Barron’s.

Practice exams are one of the easiest ways to study for AP Exams. [Source: Biology Junction]

4. Ask for help

If you feel as if you have exhausted all study options and still do not understand the material, ask for help. Most AP teachers offer review sessions and have tutoring available during the school week. Do not be hesitant to go see a teacher for extra help on material that is challenging. Moreover, if you are still nervous about the format of the test, ask a student that has previously taken that specific AP Exam for advice. Most students would be delighted to discuss their experience with AP Exams to help settle nerves.

5. Be confident

While this is a stressful time, it is imperative to remember that you have made it this far for a reason. Be confident in your knowledge of the material, and try not to doubt yourself on test day. After you finish the exam, be proud of yourself for completing a college-level course while still in high school because it is a tremendous accomplishment.

Everyone at The Warrior Word wishes all CHS students good luck as they begin to prepare for AP Exam testing! If you are not sure when your AP Exam is being held at school, consult the schedule below:

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