Advanced Placement Exams: A Teen’s Tips [Teen Article]

Gema is an 18-year old from Miami, FL. She loves reading and writing young adult fiction and claims to pass out in the presence of sterile wit.

I think we can all agree that Advanced Placement classes are as daunting as they are beneficial. The entire year, the student is the infamous float in a violent parade where the audience tosses knowledge-filled tomatoes aimed at it. It is brutal, it is tough, and it is the reality of an Advanced Placement course. Information comes at the student from left and right and they are expected to retain all of it. Months of carrying around back-cracking books have led up to May: AP Exam Month. Passing the exam could mean skipping that class in college, which would result in saving money for scarce items at the college level- like food. But when you have courses with 20+ chapters of things as detailed as the process of cell division, chances of passing may seem slim. Tears will stream down your face and you will dive into a panic instead of your book. But with the help of a few basic tips, you will be on your merry way to scoring the holy five!

Study a Little Every Day:

Yes, that’s right. On top of myspace and twitter, you will have yet another responsibility to add to your list. When studying concepts as detailed as the ones explored in Advanced Placement courses, it can be nearly impossible to learn everything in one sitting. The information may take hours to digest but will gush away as though you swallowed a mental laxative within a couple of days. This is why it is vital to study every single day. Advanced Placement students are responsibly for knowing what they learned on the first day of school as clearly as the last chapter in the book. Unless you have a photogenic memory, (and if you do, don’t admit it, AP students will follow you with glass torches) studying every day will be the spring cleaning the cobwebbed lessons in your brain.

Understand General Concepts:

It is safe to say that the AP exams are as predictable as Lindsey Lohan’s next move. The only thing you know when you walk into the test room is the fact that anything can be thrown at you. With that said, it is important to understand AT LEAST the general concepts. Let’s face it; you will not be able to memorize the 1,000+ pages of your text books; much less if you have multiple AP exams. Chances there will be at least one chapter that will fly over your head like a Frisbee. However, if you can understand what this mystery chapter is about, you will be one step closer to deciphering such problems in the exam.

Study Groups:

As my AP Chemistry teacher puts it, “misery loves company”. Have you tried studying on your own lately? Between texting and instant messaging, you’ll be lucky to even open your book without seeping into an A.D.D. fog. If you know this is you, study groups may prove to be beneficial. Not only will your group be there to slap your hand away from your phone or laptop, but they’ll even offer some insight into the course you’re studying every now and then. In the moments when understanding concepts or working out formulas feels like grasping fog, they will be there to randomly blurt out a minor yet essential detail that will help you move on in the problem.

Relaxing Music:

I’ll admit it. I can’t think in silence. When there’s a midterm exam and all I can hear is the pen making love to the paper and uncomfortable heels my teachers wear clap against the tiles, I go crazy.. In my head, I give myself a concert, I recreate the image of my boyfriend falling off his chair and I stare at the clock. I can’t help it. I need vibrant environment or else I become too aware of every breath I take, of every “swish” of the turning page. The same applies for when I’m studying. Have you tried learning the 100+ literary terms for AP English Literature in the quiet of your room? Were you able to concentrate without humming at least one song?

This is why I recommend relaxing music.

Key word being: relaxing.

As much as I may love the heavy guitar riffs accompanied by bellowing lyrics, I wouldn’t risk playing it in the background in the mist of an AP Exam. The idea is to set a welcoming mood to all those facts and terms that you’ll need for the exam, not to scare them away!

Short Breaks Frequently:

It is true that you need to buckle down and study, but every now and then you need to stop the car and stretch out your legs. Hunching over your desk for eight straight hours will only cause back pains and fleeting knowledge. I know a little secret that teachers don’t stress enough (especially when they’re $50 per-passing-student bonus is on the line), and that is: IT IS OKAY TO TAKE A BREAK. It is okay to put the books down and walk around the block to some air in your lungs and sun on your face. Stretch the legs and let the information sink in before taking on the next chapter. Now, this doesn’t mean that you will study for five minutes and rest for ten. You must have a feasible schedule that balances your exams and learning capabilities.

These were just a few basic yet important study tips to taking an AP exam. Remember, Advanced Placement courses are meant to challenge you. In the class, the student explores lofty theories at an accelerated pace. It is important to know that the course itself is an advantageous experience. The AP exam is just the finish line to mararthon. Everything from the random nuggets of information tossed at you in class from these study tips will combine while you take that test. This is the part of the marathon where you at full speed at the finish. Leave no energy unused. Critical thinking cannot be taught, only applied; and the exam is where. Tap into everything you’ve learned: every test, quiz, homework and example..

And of course: score a five…

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