Preparing to get a good score on your AP® exams can be a stressful process and performing well after working so hard throughout the school year is important. Scoring well on AP exams recommends you as a candidate to receive college credits or advanced course placement in your first years as an undergraduate student. This means that you may be able to save money on tuition, add a second major or minor, or even graduate early.
AP exams are scored on a scale of 1 to 5 and receiving 3 or higher means that you may be able to receive course credits or test out of entry-level college courses.
What Is A Good Score?
Receiving a 3, 4, or 5 on an AP exam is considered to be passing the exam, though if you want to ensure that you are the best candidate for course credit or advanced course placement, then you should aim to receive a 4 or a 5 on your AP exam.
How To Get A Good Score
So, what steps can students follow to be sure that they are as prepared as possible when test day arrives? Here are some steps to consider.
- Work Hard In Your AP Classes
It may seem obvious, but the best way to keep up with the skills and topics that you will encounter on test day is by working hard in your AP classes throughout the school year. Pay attention in class and remain diligent in your notetaking as you read your textbook, listen to daily lessons from your teacher, participate in discussions, and work with your peers. As test day draws near, you can use the notes you took throughout the semester to refresh your skills and understandings from earlier chapters and lessons.
It is also useful to save copies of the essays you write and the homework you submit. Use these assignments to refresh your memory and streamline your study time before the AP exam.
You should also remember that your AP teachers have experience with the course and its exam, so utilize time in class to ask questions about the AP test. Your teacher knows what the AP exam expects from you, and they have likely shaped their exams around the types of questions they have seen on AP exams in previous years. Use every resource available to you throughout the year, especially the resources provided by your teacher.
AP classes are more difficult than the high school classes you may be used to. They are designed to assess your ability to understand college-level work. As you enroll in these courses, set realistic expectations for the increased amount of time you will need to dedicate to the courses.
Pace yourself to adequately understand new concepts and apply new skills throughout the year. If you want to get a good score on your AP exams you need to work hard in your classes and be mindful of the time that each course requires from students.
- Organize And Schedule Your Test Prep
Build a study plan that is organized and set a schedule that makes sense for you. If you want to get a good score on your AP exams, do not wait until the final weeks of the semester to begin your test preparation. AP exams take place in May, and you should begin preparing by late-winter or early-spring.
Begin your test prep early, and a good place to start is by making a study guide. Keep track of the quizzes, exams, essays, and assignments you could have improved upon throughout the year. When you begin your AP test prep you can use the data from your performance throughout the year to hone in on the questions, skills, topics, or course units you did not understand.
It is a good idea to take time after each exam, quiz, and assignment to understand your mistakes and make note of the errors you made. Studying the material you are already successful with is less helpful than studying the material you are weaker with. Focus on your weaknesses first to keep your improvements in priority.
As you begin your test prep and build a study plan, be sure to set a schedule that is manageable for your course load. Burning out when studying is common with students who add too much to their plates, without any time to breathe. A good way to avoid burnout is by starting early, remaining organized by tracking your weak points throughout the year, and remaining consistent with your study habits.
- Don’t Wait Until The Last Minute To Study For The Exam
Waiting until the end of the semester to begin studying for AP exams is a mistake. Remember, AP exams assess an entire semester or school year’s worth of work in one exam. These courses focus on college-level skills and topics, so they will require most students to push themselves more than they would in other high school courses.
The volume of topics and level of difficulty can be shocking to some students, and by the end of the year it is easy to become overwhelmed by the list of things you need to know in order to do well on the AP exams. The stress of this intense time is exaggerated if you are taking more than one AP course. To do well on AP exams, you should begin studying early and pace yourself.
- Take Practice Tests
Taking practice tests is essential to receiving a good AP score. If you want to do well on your AP exams, it is a good idea to build a strong understanding of what to expect from the testing format and style.
Experience with the AP exam will allow you to walk into the official AP exam confident that you are prepared. Most AP exams consist of multiple-choice questions and free-response questions. Practice work will be crucial to your time management throughout the exam. You can also use practice tests to gauge the amount of improvement that is necessary for you to reach your goal scores.
To do well on any exam, it is crucial that you understand your weaknesses. Dedicate time in the school year to take multiple practice exams to track your improvements and perfect the skills that you consistently miss questions with.
Students that receive a 5 on the AP exam have devoted the most time and effort possible to understand the material on the exam. To receive a 5, you should expect to write flawless, detailed free responses and miss very few multiple-choice questions.
The difficulty of each exam varies, so the odds of receiving a 5 varies from subject to subject. Still, across the board, AP students that receive a 5 have successfully proven that they are well-qualified to pass the college-level course.
To receive a 3, 4, or 5, the steps we have outlined above are great starting points. If you hope to receive college credit or advanced course placement from your AP scores, you need to work hard throughout the school year in your AP courses, set a study schedule that prioritizes improvement, keep your notes and work organized to utilize later, start studying early, and work on AP practice exams throughout the year to gauge the improvement that is necessary to reach your goals.
FLEX College Prep offers customized, efficient, and effective study plans to help any AP student improve their scores and reach their performance goals. Whether you hope to receive a passing score or a perfect 5, we can help you maximize your AP scores. Our instructors are experienced and prepared to help support you throughout the AP test prep process.
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