Ooooh man. It’s AP Test Crunch Time—we’re in the month of April and May 5th is bearing down upon us already. You have twentyish days! How should one handle this timeframe? Opportunity to study? How much? How little? Blow it all off and flip some tables in revolt or sit down and focus? Whatever you end up doing, here are some tips for all kinds. (Except the flipping tables because you really probably should be studying since you paid for these tests and all.)
1. No more cramming.
You are no longer in the learn new material world. This is the time to review. Flashcards, I have learned are more excellent than I thought originally. Definitely utilize their usage (heh), and for those of you with strong aversions to paper and writing utensils, Quizlet is my absolute favorite. It even hooks you up with other people around the world studying the same thing as you! The point is you are reviewing now, so try to activate all that knowledge stored in your head by discussing it with your friends, coming up with fun acronyms and other mnemonic devices to recall everything. This is the time to inhale and exhale, not scarf down.
2. Pick a time out of the day to enjoy yourself.
Don’t go overboard or anything, but make sure your entire day is not about studying or keeping up with other schoolwork. I know this sounds crazy, but if you set aside some time to not be constantly thinking and just relax, you will be able to return to your work with more fervor and ability to process and understand. Maybe lunchtime—if you’re allowed to sit outside or in a teacher’s classroom, lie in the sun (my Southern buds will feel me on this one), have an engaging conversation with your favorite teacher (teacher’s pets anyone?), or just enjoy the company of your friends! Read a chapter of a book (that is not required) or watch a favorite TV episode. Have time for yourself every day, and you’ll find yourself engaging in your work with fresh eyes.
If you really are studying hardcore, my suggestion is to remove the technology from your life. Not all the time, goodness no, because as mentioned above, there are some excellent technologies out there to help you out. But I am a proponent of the occasional do-it-by-hand, paper and pad, hands-on studying. Get creative! Pull out a whiteboard and draw pictures to go with concepts in your subject (or equations, you know). Make your own matching game. Write a few essays over old essay topics. Turn your phone off and give it your mom (but keep the battery—you know, snooping KIDDING MOM I LOVE YOU), put your computer under your bed, the tablet stashed in your closet, and your iPod in your shoes downstairs (gah, can you guess how much tech I have?). Print out a review and ask yourself the questions as you trip around your bedroom, or the neighborhood. It’ll help you focus, really.
4. If this is your first AP test, don’t freak out!
My first AP had me so nervous that I had a nightmare about it and became so stressed that certain bodily functions wouldn’t work until it was over (I’m serious). Don’t let that happen to you! You should allow yourself to consider this your trial. I mean, obviously you want to do well, but you don’t want to flip out over everything; it’s your first AP. Use this to understand what time really is like in an AP exam, how to be most comfortable at the testing site (since you’ll probably be there again next year), and remember that nobody remembers their first AP score. Chill, yah?
5. Listen to your teachers.
My awesome World History AP teacher provided us with this cool study sheet thing that I never used because I was too nervous and confused to bother. It’s a shame; I bet I could have done a lot better if I had tried that. So when your teacher tells you to review something, or how to, take their word for it! Though, if they’re like my (still awesome but) AP U.S. History teacher, who told us not to worry about Reagan because they almost NEVER ask about Reagan (and then they did THEY DID THEY DID ON AN ESSAY SECTION), maybe consider studying Reagan, or someone. Just give them a cursory glance. It might not make or break you, but it might do wonders for your confidence when you hit that one question over that one part that your teacher thought wouldn’t be there (thanks Mr. E, but really you were still great).
AP tests are unfortunately a rite of passage for the overachieving who sometimes thus wonder why they do it all; however, we all still sat down to that test and will sit down to that test for myriad of reasons, but ultimately, it’s a test. It may be three or (oh why would you do this) more than five. But those scores don’t define you, or how hard you worked entirely or what you know because as we all know, the APs are rigged and TP is planning a revolution anyw-
*hands are snatched away from the keyboard and writer is pulled away from computer blindfolded*