Six Ways to Get a 5 on (or at Least Survive) AP Tests


Six AP test-taking tips and tricks to get a 5 on your exam.

Ashlee Thompson, Editor-in-Chief

It’s that time of year! The reason students have taken notes, crammed for tests, and completed more CollegeBoard progress checks than they can count is finally here: the Advanced Placement (AP) exams. These AP courses have prepared students all year long for these rigorous exams, but are they ready? 

AP exams give high school students their first real look into what college exams can be like. If they get a high enough score, these students can actually receive college credit for them. 

To help you successfully tackle your first AP exam or to help you nail your final one, here are six AP exam study tips from College Express that you should follow. 

1. Study Early, Study Smart

When you study days or weeks before your exam, you will certainly feel better prepared. Looking over your psychology vocabulary words for 10 minutes, doing 5 calculus problems, or watching a 5 minute AP Government review video every day will enrich your mind and improve your skill. 

2. Make a Study Schedule

From someone who makes a to-do list every week, schedules are very helpful. Having a simple schedule will allow you to plan how much time each day you want to take to look over notes or take practice tests. In order to make the best schedule, choose times to study that are in your hours of operation. If you work better in the morning, plan to get up at 8 a.m. on weekends to look over those daunting Free-Response Questions (FRQs). If you enjoy working at night, plan to watch a few AP cram videos at 9 p.m. By making a schedule that works for you, you will feel relaxed and ready to tackle anything. 

3. Really Test If You Know The Information

Have you ever been studying for a test with flashcards, almost get the question right, but just move on? This great example College Express gives shows why you should test yourself to see if you really know the test material. These “almost” answers will be the difference between getting a 4 and getting a 3. 

4. Practice Using Actual AP Questions

Learning how to take the AP test will be the most useful to hopeful exam-takers. Google is your best friend. Look up AP exams from previous years to learn the structure of the exam. Practice taking tests in the allotted time limit to ensure you can finish the questions on time. CollegeBoard, the company that gives the AP exams, has loads of old test material on their site. Log on and look through the archives of the FRQs so you have an idea of what to expect come test day. 

5. Ask Your Teacher Clarifying Questions

Your teachers are there to help you. By asking them any questions you have, it shows your drive and dedication to being as knowledgeable as possible in the subject. College Express says, “It takes about two minutes to ask your teacher, and it may take hours of self-study.” Asking questions shouldn’t feel embarrassing; it’ll actually feel rewarding and worth it in the end.

6. Don’t Feel Bad Ditching Your Friends To Study

While it is fun to hang out with your friends, your time might be better spent studying the test material. Turning down your friends’ invitation to go to Applebee’s might sting in the moment, but will pay off in the long run. 

All of these steps might sound like hard work–because it is–but they only serve to make you feel more prepared as you tackle the AP exams. After all, do you know how good it would feel to see a big 5 on your score report this summer?