Four tips for students taking an AP exam for the first time

Students and teachers share their advice on AP testing


Hana Hammad

Palms sweaty and hands shaking, students from around the country sit down in chairs for hours on end and put their focus on packets of information. They hear every tick of the clock as they rush to fill in the last bubble on their scantron. They listen to the thundering pencil taps in anticipation of trying to finish their tests. In May, Ap students from all over the country will take a variety of tests on different subjects. It may be confusing or difficult for students taking an AP exam for the first time to understand how to prepare for a test that determines what they remember from the whole year.

Here are tips students can use for their first AP exam:

Use practice tests and buy a prep book

“I got a barons review book and I went through that,” junior Rory Corwin said. “I’d say [study] at least a month and a half, two months before. I use practice tests, so I would go through each of the questions, pick a question and write down why. If I got it wrong, I would see why I got it wrong. You need to study earlier than you think.”

Study broad topics

“I’ve mainly studied the broad topics that affected many of the minor topics so, I think that’s what you should do specifically for World History,” junior Eric Zhao said. “We would study the Mongols and the Silk Roads, which are the main topics that caused all the other stuff that happened in World History. If they give you FRQs, you should do them. You should not put them aside.”

Follow your AP teacher’s instructions

“I’m following my teacher’s instructions and practicing what they recommend,” senior Kobe Walker said. “I’m going on Khan Academy for some things that they recommend I go on.”

Bring a snack and an extra pencil on exam day

“Bring your own pencils pre-sharpened with plenty of erasers,” AP World History Sharon Kent said.  “Bring your own backup pens; it’s always during a test where the lead breaks or the pen runs out of ink. Get there in plenty of time. If you have to be there by eight, they close the doors and lock them at eight. Who cares if you sit in the parking lot in your car right outside of the testing room for 30 minutes, that’s a way to de-stress. Also, bring a snack.”