If a dangerous combination of burnout and procrastination has erased time in the months of March and April, you’re studying for Advanced Placement (AP) tests last minute.
With less than 3 weeks before AP tests, thousands of students worldwide are cramming for the most stressful time of the school year. Whether you’re a sophomore taking your first AP test or a suffering senior who is now regretting signing up for six AP tests, here are some essential and practical study tips for you.
Tip #1: Accept the suffering.
There is no point in beating yourself up for not studying for these tests. Quite frankly, they suck. Although it’s totally understandable to feel stressed and pressured to succeed, there is a level of inherent and absurd suffering within these tests. Walking into the testing area with an acceptance that there is only so much you can control might alleviate some of the pressure in these next few months.
Tip #2: Commiserate with friends (productively)
It’s true that being sad and stressed about school sucks. But being sad and stressed about school with friends sucks a little less. Dust off the prep books and go hit Cafe Bungalow or Classic Coffee after school with friends to attack that AP Biology “fun packet”. Teach each other AP Calculus BC concepts while you warn your underclassmen friends about taking AP Calculus in the first place. If you struggle to get work done in groups, assign someone to keep everyone on track for 30 minutes or a full hour of “deep focus” mode before setting a timer for 15 minutes break.
Walk each other through practice free response questions (FRQs) and do timed multiple-choice questions together. Everything is better together.
Tip #3: Effective mind maps, flashcards, and time management.
Here comes the real stuff. When you think you understand the concept or unit you’re studying, pull out a blank sheet of paper and make a mind map of the unit without looking at your notes. This forces the brain to remember and explain historical events, biological processes, or anything you’re studying in your own words.
Flashcards (preferably physical since everyone knows you will just click the pre-written definition on Quizlet) are also great to bring around and review in the car. To block out when you’re going to study, use Google Calendar or a physical calendar to make week-by-week goals of when you will finish reviewing a specific unit as soon as possible.
So in summary, no, it isn’t fair that you had prom and sports events every weekend leading up to these tests. And no, it isn’t fair that you’re too burnt out from months of repetitive and alienating school work to even stay awake during those AP review sessions. It’s not fair and not supposed to be, but maybe accepting that fact might break down that mental block between you and that dusty AP prep book. Deep breaths and take it one step at a time this month, Tartans.