With AP season underway, upperclassmen offer advice

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Annotated prep books and highlighters in tow, the month of May sees students diligently cram for their upcoming Advanced Placement (AP) exams.From World History to Calculus BC, Harrisites often engage in a variety of AP courses throughout the school year which usually culminate in a final AP exam that lasts a few hours. Now that AP season is in full swing, The Classic spoke with upperclassmen students as they offered studying and test-taking advice. 

The cumulative nature of the exams might make studying the year’s worth of information rather overwhelming. To tackle this issue, junior Jesutoyin Olabodé suggested condensing the material in a more manageable way that’s easier to digest.  She said, “Make a finite list of terms or topics to review so it feels more digestible. Study with friends to make it less nerve wracking, and start early on, don’t cram.” 

For a comprehensive understanding of the AP’s content beyond the classroom, senior Ngozi Anya recommended looking at online resources. “[Some channels] are trained and [knowledgeable] to break down stuff from the AP exams. Watch the videos and you will definitely understand the material,” she said.

Junior Jabir Rahman particularly recommends Heimler’s History on YouTube for those taking history-related AP exams. “I also recommend doing some practice from the College Board and getting review books,” he said.

Senior Chloé Muñoz agreed and said, “[Heimler’s History] has videos on YouTube and review packets that you can buy, though I never did. It’s going to take a while but I used to watch all of his videos and take notes on everything he said. It really helped me gain a better chronological understanding of what we were learning.”

Jesutoyin also highlighted the CollegeBoard’s own resources, including its AP Classroom feature that offers practice questions and summary videos taught by AP teachers., “Using the AP Classroom is a must. For AP Biology, I like the YouTuber ‘Science with Johnston’ for chapter by chapter reviews,” she said.

In terms of a few study techniques to use during one’s AP study sessions, Jabir said, “I [personally use] the Pomodoro Technique when studying (25 minutes of studying, then a 5 minute break) and I stretch each day to relieve some of the stress of AP Season.” Chloé added, “Note taking and reviewing the material is good so that you gain an understanding and not just memorization.”

“Write down questions,” Jesutoyin said. “If it’s science or history, go through the questions for their subtopics and write down each unfamiliar term and process. After that, you can go to your teacher and have them re-explain it to you during your lunch Band or after school, or you can use YouTube or Google to go through your terms on your own.” She additionally recommends looking at Quizlet, a website with virtual learning tools, that offers an array of flash cards with vocabulary, practice questions, specific chapters, and historical periods for history exams.”

In terms of one’s wellness during AP season, Ngozi said, “Relax and take your time. Take deep breaths and remember to always love myself and stay positive. The more you stay positive, the more likely you will pass the AP.” 

Chloé said, “I think the thing that used to always calm me down was the fact that an AP score of 5 isn’t a 100, in the sense that you can get questions wrong and still get a 5.”  

She also suggests using a resource called an AP score calculator that allows students to predict their scores by how many questions they get wrong per section. “I remember doing that for [AP English Language & Composition] because I was very strong in the essay writing but not so much with the multiple choice,” Chloé said. “That framing really helps you see what room of error you can give yourself.”

“AP Season is a time for prioritizing that study grind. To keep me mentally sane, I just remind myself that at the end of the day, these are just tests, it’ll all be over soon, and I won’t remember these scores ten years from now. So, don’t go too crazy,” Jesutoyin said.

Photo by Erica Lee