How to Succeed on AP Tests

Computer Science I Computer Science II Physics I Physics II Statistics
When it comes to passing AP tests there's no substitute for learning the subject as it is presented during the school year. AP courses are challenging college level courses which cannot be mastered by last minute cramming.

Why You Should Take AP Classes Seriously

  1. Passing an AP test is worth over $1000. The annual cost of attending Clemson University is about $11,256 per year. Assuming a student takes a full load of about 5 classes per semester, the cost of each class works out to about $1125. Exempting a class saves over $1000.
  2. Many Universities consider AP scores in determining admissions along with SAT scores, GPA and class rank. A good AP record will help get you into the college of your choice.
  3. AP test scores are a factor in a number of different scholarships. They show that you are ready for college work. This also makes a high AP score potentially worth far more than $1000.
  4. Even if you do not pass the AP test, you will be far better prepared for college. If you have to retake a class you will find that what you learned in your AP class will be invaluable.

The general rule of thumb in college says that a student should study about 2 hours outside of class for every hour in class.  AP courses tend to have more classroom time and so the ratio is somewhat lower. However, It should be clear that AP classes do require a significant effort.

Even for dedicated students, it's almost impossible to reach their potential score without studying specifically for the AP exam. In general it's more difficult to pass an AP exam than to pass the equivalent college level course. The following are offered as guidelines:

During the Year

  1. AP stands for attitude and persistence. The real lesson of AP classes is not the subject. It's learning to have a committed attitude and to persist even when the subject seems to make no sense. Failure is not a grade. It's an attitude and it's one to avoid.
  2. Write important ideas on 3x5 cards during class. These can be used to prepare for tests as well as for the AP exam.
  3. Join or form a study group as early as possible. Group study is a definite benefit.
  4. Obtain an AP study book as soon as possible. In many cases Mr. Rogers will provide one. In addition buy one from a different publisher. Study sections in the AP book as they are covered in class.
  5. Begin taking practice AP tests out of the study books as early as winter break. Yes, some of the material will not have been covered in class, however, you can still gain a lot by early practice.

    Failure is not an option. - Gene Kranz, Mission Director Apollo 13

Final Preparations - 4th Quarter

  1. Regularly take multiple choice practice tests in the study books. Start with only 10 multiple-choice questions in one of the tests. Study the questions you miss. Re-take the questions until its possible to state the question by seeing the answer. Next, add 10 more questions. Repeat this process until you have completed an entire test. Then, move on to the next test. Do this same process for at least 3 practice tests. In general, it's best to take the multiple choice sections separately from the free response.
  2. Work at least 3 free response test sections from the study books.
  3. Attend as many AP study sessions as you possibly can. Do not depend on in-class review sessions
  4. Avoid field trips during the 4th quarter. This is generally when AP knowledge comes together for most students. The 4th quarter is a very bad time to miss classes.