Strive for a Five on AP Exams

Thoughts of AP exams are creeping into the minds of Woodgrove students as the May tests approach. Such exams can be alarming for many students, but with the right preparation and study techniques, test day can be transformed into a day of success rather than stress.
Students who score well on the AP test may have the opportunity to opt out of that class in college, saving time and money towards their degree. Whether or not you have experience with these tests, it is important to take them seriously to ensure that the cost of each test ($91) will benefit you in college.
Although there is a financial cost to taking the AP exam Woodgrove’s Head of Guidance Geri Fiore believes all AP students should have the opportunity to take the test, and she said the school would be willing to help pay the fee for students in financial disadvantages.
“The AP exam is part of the expectation of the course,” said Fiore. “Every student should be able to take the exam.”
There are a various number of study methods AP course teachers use to help students be ready for the exams. AP Psychology teacher Mr. Greening suggests a number of ideas to prepare for exam day.
“I think it is a good idea for students to relieve stress by getting more sleep, spreading out study time, and (if you’re into psychology) meditating,” said Greening.
Mr. Greening prepares his own students by having them relate key concepts together in class. Students are expected to familiarize themselves with the topics before class to encourage active learning in the classroom. This deeper understanding of material helps students when they study for the exams months later.
A major key to success on an AP test seems to be getting an early start on studying and not waiting until the last minute.
“Starting early is imperative,” said Fiore. “Students should review tests and study guides throughout the year.”
Senior Kristen Garner has taken four AP exams and plans to take six more this year. Her study regime has helped her prepare for rigorous college courses.
“The best advice I can give [for the AP tests] is to begin studying early,” said Garner. “If you start re-viewing in February and March, you won’t have to cram in May.”
Garner is planning on attending Wheaton College next year, where a score of four or five on most AP tests could give a student college credit for that class.
The College Board AP exams are scored on a scale of one to five, with a five being the best possible score. These scores are based on how well the student does on a multiple choice section and a free-response section. The test scores are as follows:
5 = extremely well qualified
4 = well qualified
3 = qualified
2 = possibly qualified
1 = no recommendation
A “qualified” score shows the capability of a student to do well in a college-leveled course. Depending on what college the student wants to attend, higher scores could exempt the student from a specific college course. Many colleges like to see a student score a four or a five on the AP exam to allow them to skip that course.
Getting a good score on an AP test is extremely rewarding, but it is important to stay calm while taking the test.The night and morning before an AP exam can be extremely stressful for students. Most exams last between two and three hours, so it is crucial to be ready for the challenge and understand that there will be limited breaks. Many sophomores will be taking an exam (generally AP World History) for the first time and don’t really know what to expect. Familiarizing yourself with not only the test material, but testing procedures, will make exam day less stressful.
Last year, junior Shahzaib Ahmad took his first AP test and found himself in uncharted waters with regards to the stress he was feeling. Fortunately, he was able to cope with the stress by having prepared for the exam throughout the week.
“I felt energized because I had a good night’s rest,” said Ahmad. “I studied all week leading up to the exam, so I was ready.”
Other AP test-takers like junior Jonathan Hess were not stressed at all for their first AP exam experience.
“I was relaxed, and I stayed calm throughout the test,” said Hess. “I felt prepared because I had taken multiple practice tests and essays.”
Practice questions for every AP exam are available on the College Board website. Other helpful resources for the exams include study guide books (such as the “Barrons” brand), which provide useful chapter summaries and practice tests.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that it is never too early to start studying for your exams. Plan ahead and prioritize your studying time between different subjects. Make it a habit to begin reviewing notes and tests from the beginning of the year every night. By doing so, you eliminate the stress of last minute cramming, and you will master the material better. Trying to memorize one hundred centuries worth of material the night before your AP World History exam probably won’t pay off as well as studying a little bit each night for the preceding month. And when the eve of the test arrives, remember that an extra hour of sleep will probably help you more the next morning than one last hour of cramming.

Schedule for AP Exams
Schedule for AP Exams