My mentality is typical: “If it’s not due/I don’t have a test or quiz tomorrow, it doesn’t exist.” However, this mentality won’t make me very successful when it comes to the reading AP classes. This label includes AP World, AP Psychology, AP US History, AP Biology, AP Environmental Science, and the list goes on and on. A “reading AP” means that the teacher can only teach so much, and at a certain point, the textbook must teach you the rest. From my experience with AP World and AP Biology, I learned so much more from the textbook because I would read five chapters the night before the test. I can personally assure you that this is not the most effective method. However, there are a couple of things to remember and commit yourself to when tackling a “reading AP.”
As hard as it is to read a chapter every night when you have loads of other homework also due tomorrow, it is necessary. Before you know it, it’s the night before the test, you have not read any of the chapters, and you’re having a mental breakdown.
Make a reading schedule.
Assign yourself days to read parts of the book leading up to the test, so you’re not overwhelmed a couple of days before. Having a five chapter test over a hundred pages in the book might be the worst part of high school, but preparing for it little by little makes it that much easier.
If you read sections every night and write down important things that are bound to show up on the test, you can just review your notes before the test instead of reading everything over again. As annoying as taking notes while reading is, it is much better than having to read all over again.
Buy post-it notes, and put them everywhere.
If you come across anything that is even remotely worth reading again in the future, but a post-it note next to it.
Buy a review book at the beginning of the year.
When you’re running out of time before the test, the summaries of chapters in review books are extremely helpful. I wouldn’t rely on those summaries entirely, for they are just summaries, but most books do a good job by presenting the overall picture of a chapter. The review books tie all the concepts together, and they can provide for a better understanding of the content.
Read to understand, not just to read.
Everyone reads over pages in no time, but most of the time I realize that I do not absorb any of the information on the page. The words on my textbook go in one eye and out the other! If you don’t rush yourself when reading, then you can take the time needed to understand and apply the concepts, so you will only have to read the information once.
When reading, turn off your phone.
The biggest distraction to every teenager is their phone. Once my phone beeps or rings, I’m distracted for the next hour. As addicting as Flappy Bird may be, acing a test may be more rewarding in the end than beating your high score is. Turning your phone completely off or moving to a different room works best.
After a good hour of working, your brain needs and deserves a break. Eat a snack, watch a television show, or just cool down for fifteen minutes or so, then get back to reading.
AGAIN, DON’T PROCRASTINATE.
Sounds repetitive? You betcha, bet let’s be real here. When teachers say, “Your homework is to read…”, every kid in class takes that as having no homework. As hard as it may be to motivate yourself to read thirty plus pages on Chinese dynasties or cellular respiration, it will be worth it in the end when you ace your test.
Tackling reading APs can be a drag, but if you make a few changes in your study habits, you’ll be so glad to see the difference when you get that 5 on your exam!