Best Ways to Study for AP Exams

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It’s AP Exam season! Although it can be a very stressful time, good preparation can ease the stress. Here are some students and teachers’ study recommendations and tips for many AP courses.

History (AP World History & AP U.S History)

AP U.S. History (APUSH) and AP World History (AP World) are two very similar AP History courses, and both exams include MCQ, DBQ, SAQ and LEQ sections. The courses’ content is extremely important, and includes 1200-present for AP World and 1491-present for APUSH. 

Students have several tactics to study for these exams. APUSH junior Sienna Aylaian said, “I have found the videos by Heimler’s History very useful. He has concentrated unit videos that go over everything. I also suggest that the students attend student Allison Hurley’s review sessions in the library during lunch!” Aylaian added, “I take handwritten notes in a notebook, then I look at a video with all the key terms of the unit and write down the ones I don’t know.” 

APWH sophomore Sacha Deb said, “I have been using AP classroom and doing practice outlines of DBQs, SAQs, and LEQs because I believe that’s where I can improve more.” 

As for teacher recommendations, APUSH teacher Anne Olson said, “My recommendations are Progress Checks and Practice Exams on AP Classroom, AP Daily Videos on AP Classroom, and Gilder Lehrman AP Study Guides. If you are looking to review the basic facts of the content quickly, I recommend the AMSCO AP U.S. History textbook. I also recommend The Insider’s Complete Guide to AP US History: A Strategic Review.” Olson also recommends that students read this pdf that summarizes what students should know from each unit.

English (AP English Language & AP English Literature)

AP English Literature and Composition (AP Lit) focuses more on poetry and literature while AP English Language and Composition (AP Lang) focuses on analyzing non-fiction. These exams each have three essays and an MCQ section. AP Lit has one prose, one poetry, and one “literary argument” essay, while AP Lang has one rhetorical analysis, one argument, and one synthesis essay. 

AP Lang junior Aaralyn Prasad said, “I’ve been doing progress checks on AP Classroom to see which sections I don’t get and need to review further. Additionally, I’ve been looking at strong essay samples from other students, notes from class, and my previous essays—these make me feel very prepared for when the exam day comes.” 

Similarly, AP Lit student Alexandra Glotzbach said, “I would say that looking up practice exams online is one of the best things you can do. You can also do sections of multiple choice so that you know what the passages are like and what kinds of answers the exam is looking for.” 

Teachers also have recommendations. AP Literature teacher Lisa Otsuka said, “Students should review materials from class that I have given out during class throughout the school year. College Board has a lot of extra multiple choice questions and also essay prompts if students want to get additional practice.” Otsuka added, “The main tip I have is for my students to sleep and do self care before the exams.” 

AP Lang Teacher David Rosenberg said, “College Board gives access to teachers to assign videos, [student sample essays] and practice tests to [current AP] students. Students should go over previous essays to identify errors and see what can be improved. Peer essay reviews also help students tremendously; they receive feedback from each other and identify areas of strength and to improve.

Math (AP Calculus & AP Statistics)

The content of AP Calculus and AP Statistics means these exams differ more than those in other subjects. AP Statistics is more focused on algebra, whereas AP Calculus includes a broader range of prior knowledge. However, both of the exams have six FRQs and an MCQ section. 

AP Calculus sophomore Aarna Singla said, “I go over my notes and create flashcards for important concepts and terms. I also would recommend watching Khan Academy videos for any other student taking the same AP exam because it is extremely beneficial for me. 

Teachers also directly provide students with resources. AP Calculus teacher Kristen Bryan said, “I give my students everything they need and provide all of the resources so that they can be prepared for the AP exam. I don’t know how they would find time to do more work than what I do with them and assign to them.” 

AP Statistics teacher Jennifer Payne said, “Students should look back on class notes that have been given throughout the school year. I have also recently provided class review packets that are encouraged for students to go over. I would also recommend for students to use AP Classroom—that has 15-minute daily review videos and a full-length exam released.”

Science (AP Biology, AP Chemistry, & AP Environmental Science)

AP Biology, AP Chemistry, and AP Environmental Science (APES) all have an MCQ section and FRQs, but with varying numbers of questions. 

Though AP Biology has a daunting sixty MCQs and six FRQs, there are many ways to prepare for this exam. AP Biology junior Sophie Ultan said, “I use Brightstorm to study for the upcoming exam. It’s a site with videos from our teacher explaining all of the concepts. I plan on using that to get a general understanding of each chapter and then I quiz myself with apps like Kahoot or Quizizz to see what I recall after studying.” 

AP Biology teacher Patrick Roisen said, “AP Classroom website has ‘AP Daily Videos’ where students can see how to break down and answer questions, as well as watching unit reviews to cover the different topics that they are expected to know for the exam.” Roisen added, “They should also start using their class lecture note packets, investing perhaps 15-30 minutes a day to read through them to remind themselves of all the content they covered this year. I’m available nearly every day at lunch and after school for students to come in and get the help they need.” 

AP Chemistry has sixty MCQs and seven FRQs. AP Chemistry teacher Matt Sandora said, “Students should review the different sections that they don’t understand/feel hesitant about. Old homework and tests on AP Classroom can be beneficial, and the College Board has posted study videos as well. We have learned everything they need to know in class, I promise! The review sheets tell them everything they need in detail for every unit.” 

Finally, APES has eighty MCQs and three FRQs. APES junior Carley Gracia said, “I have a study group that helps a lot when studying for the exam and we usually do the review guides and resources our APES teacher Mr. Powell gives us.” APES teacher Lance Powell said, “I recommend students to create study groups and use AP Classroom to review. I also have handed out practice tests, review packets, and multiple other resources for students to use, and students should have a basic knowledge and understanding of everything we have covered in class.” 

Angeleah Fayette is a sophomore at M-A in her first year of journalism. She wants to write about issues she feels passionate about and has opinions on. She enjoys reading, swimming, dancing, and hanging out with friends.

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