AP exam prep for dummies


Photo provided by Ellie Pearsall.

Putting important papers in front of your binders can help you remember crucial information.

Ellie Pearsall, A&E Editor

  As second semester ramps up, the anticipation for the infamous AP exam week also rises. Effective study methods can help to smooth the transition into exam season. I have found these strategies to work the best for me:

Active Recall:

    There are more effective ways to study than re-reading notes. It’s easy for concepts to run together this way. Active recall is forcing yourself to retrieve material you have already learned from your mind. One of my favorite ways to incorporate this method is using flashcards. Paper flashcards are effective because you are reminded of the material when making them; additionally, you can use them to quiz yourself. Digital flashcards are an option on websites like Quizlet for those who prefer an online method. An alternative way to quiz yourself is through review games. Often there are pre-made games made for AP classes by the unit that can be found on websites such as Kahoot and Quizizz.

Study Groups:

    If you struggle with keeping yourself accountable, study groups are a great way to remain focused on your work. Collaborative learning is super effective because voicing the material can make it easier to retain. Sometimes when I attempt to learn a complex concept, I will teach it to someone else, whether a parent, a friend or even a pet. Speaking out loud can make it more straightforward where there are holes in your understanding. It also ensures that you make clear connections in your learning and aren’t just memorizing definitions you cannot apply. 

Review Videos:

    Watching review videos is a great way to review material passively. AP Classroom includes “AP Daily Videos,” an excellent resource for reviewing material organized by units and skills. You can also search for specific chapters on YouTube. Several channels focus on AP content specifically. They may explain things or have tricks to remember the material you hadn’t considered!

Mnemonic Devices:

    I love making up mnemonic devices to remember lists or formulas for math. It makes it impossible to leave your mind if you can come up with a catchy tune. It’s even more fun when you do this with your friends.

Establish a plan of action:

    Cramming for a test is never effective. It can be overwhelming when you have exams in two weeks and lots of material to review. Setting up a schedule for yourself can help you have a plan of execution. If the study material is split up, you’re less likely to feel panicked when the test day gets closer. You will also have a flexible amount of time rationed out if you unexpectedly struggle with relearning a concept.

Find new places to study:

    I sometimes find it difficult to focus at my house, specifically in my room. It’s hard to separate the time I spend relaxing in my room from the time I need to be productive. Having a change of scenery can be great for studying! Whether it’s a coffee shop or the library, sometimes a new setting can effectively flip the switch.


Good luck to everyone who is taking exams this season. It’s easy to put a lot of value into your performance, but remember that you are more than a test score!