Inside the APs: How to Succeed on Your AP Exams

Advanced Placement (AP) exams can be intimidating, but with the right preparation, you can succeed and earn college credit. Here are some tips to help you do your best on AP exams:

1. Calibrate your level of preparation

When it comes to preparing for AP exams, it is crucial to calibrate your level of preparation. This means that you need to assess your understanding of the course material and determine your strengths and weaknesses. You can do this by reviewing your notes, textbooks, and past assignments, as well as taking practice tests.

To calibrate your level of preparation, start by identifying the topics that you feel comfortable with and those that you struggle with. This will help you prioritize your study time and focus on the areas that need the most improvement. Once you have identified your weak areas, create a study plan that targets those topics.

It is also important to know the format and content of the exam so that you can tailor your preparation accordingly. Be sure to review the exam format and the types of questions that will be asked, and practice answering them in a timed setting.

Calibrating your level of preparation will help you approach the exam with confidence and a clear understanding of what you need to work on. It will also ensure that you make the most of your study time and avoid wasting it on topics you already know well.

2. Determine if your class is on track for the Exam?

One of the most important things to consider when preparing for AP exams is whether or not your class is on track to cover all the necessary material. It's important to ensure that your teacher is following the College Board's AP curriculum and that you are keeping up with the coursework. If you're not sure whether your class is on track, don't be afraid to ask your teacher or reach out to the College Board for guidance.

If you find that your class is falling behind, you may need to take some extra steps to get back on track. This could involve working with your teacher to develop a plan to catch up or seeking out additional resources, such as online study materials or tutoring.

On the other hand, if you find that your class is ahead of schedule, you may have some extra time to review material that you struggled with earlier in the year or to start studying for your exams earlier than you originally planned. Either way, it's important to have a clear understanding of where you stand in terms of your class's progress to ensure that you're adequately prepared for the AP exams.

3. Make a study schedule

Making a study schedule is an essential part of preparing for AP exams. A schedule allows you to prioritize which topics need the most attention and ensures that you allocate enough time to cover all of them. Here are some tips for creating an effective study schedule:

1. Start Early: It's important to start studying early to give yourself enough time to cover all of the material. Depending on the exam, you should start studying at least two to three months in advance.

2. Break Down Topics: Break down the topics into smaller, more manageable sections that you can cover in shorter periods. This way, you can cover all the material without feeling overwhelmed.

3. Allocate Time: Allocate time to each section of the topic based on the level of difficulty and your familiarity with it. This will help ensure that you spend more time on areas that you are weaker in.

4. Be Realistic: Be realistic when creating your schedule. Don't try to cram too much into a single day, and make sure to take breaks in between study sessions.

5. Set Milestones: Set milestones to help track your progress and keep yourself motivated. These can be specific goals, such as finishing a certain number of practice problems or reviewing a particular chapter.

6. Stick to the Schedule: Stick to the schedule as much as possible, but be flexible if you need to make changes. Life can be unpredictable, so be prepared to adjust your schedule accordingly.

By creating a study schedule, you can ensure that you cover all the material you need to know for the AP exam and reduce stress by breaking down the material into manageable chunks.

4. Study smarter, not harder

Studying smarter, not harder, is a technique that can help you make the most of your study time while preparing for the AP exams. Here are some tips on how to study smarter:

1. Focus on the most important concepts: Not all concepts are equally important. Determine which concepts are the most critical and focus your study efforts on those.

2. Practice active learning: Passive learning, such as reading or listening, is not as effective as active learning, which involves engaging with the material by taking notes, summarizing, or discussing with others.

3. Use mnemonic devices: Mnemonic devices are memory aids that help you remember information. Examples include acronyms, rhymes, and acrostics.

4. Take frequent breaks: Studies have shown that taking short breaks during study sessions can improve concentration and retention of information.

5. Use multiple study methods: Vary your study techniques to keep your brain engaged and to reinforce your learning. For example, you could use flashcards, take practice tests, or work through problems.

6. Don't procrastinate: Avoid waiting until the last minute to study. Instead, break up your study sessions into smaller, more manageable chunks over a longer period of time.

7. Get enough sleep: Sleep is crucial for memory consolidation and cognitive performance. Make sure to get enough sleep the night before the exam.

By studying smarter, you can make the most of your study time and increase your chances of success on the AP exams.


In conclusion, success on AP exams requires a strategic approach that is rooted in thorough preparation and efficient studying. By calibrating your level of preparation, determining if your class is on track for the exam, making a study schedule, studying smarter not harder, and practicing with past exams, you can maximize your chances of achieving a high score on the AP exam. Remember to also take care of your physical and mental health by getting enough sleep, eating well, and practicing stress-relief techniques. Ultimately, with discipline, determination, and a clear plan of action, you can succeed on your AP exams and achieve your academic goals.