While the school year is just beginning, the shadow of AP testing is already hanging over students' heads around the country. On average, a high school student will take approximately 8 AP classes throughout their high school career, more if they’re looking for extra college credits or a boost to their weighted GPA at the end of senior year.
When is the best time to start studying for AP exams? We want to ensure you have the past plan to effectively study for exams without stressing yourself out.
At the Start of the Course
Some students will want to start studying as soon as the course begins, obsessing over pristine notes and ensuring every answer is correct. While it is essential that you do your best in class to achieve good grades, the beginning of the course is the best time to make sure you grasp the course's fundamentals.
For example, if you’re taking an AP Chemistry class, you’ll probably start the course learning about the periodic table of elements and other vital basics of chemistry. Then the class will pile on different topics, subjects, and theories you will need to know for the exam. With all these aspects of the class plus your other courses, how likely is it that you will remember those basics after eight months? Using the start of the course to have a firm understanding of these basics will make the class and the exam easier at the end of the school year.
The start of the course is also an excellent place to start when you begin the more serious AP test prep.
When to Start Actual Study Sessions
The best time to start studying for your AP exam is just after the midpoint of the school year, following your midterm exams. Not only does this take away stress at the start of the year and the holiday season, but it also gives you plenty of time to understand all the material.
Begin with lighter studying at the start of second semester, focusing on basic foundations and understanding the AP question format. Invest in some form of study guide to help. After Spring Break, start ramping up your studying and shift to the more complex concepts to prepare you for even the most difficult questions on test day in May.
It’s important to remember that AP exams aren’t the end of the world, even though teachers, advisors, and parents can cause you stress about these exams. To avoid burnout and enjoy your high school experience, set boundaries for yourself. Create a study schedule that fits your personal needs and stick to it.
AP exams are meaningful to every student taking these courses. If you earn high enough scores, they can equate to college credits to help reduce tuition costs in college or gain recognition for a prestigious school. However, with the right plan, these exams don’t have to stand in the way of students living a fulfilling life in high school.