Keepin’ it “AP-real™”

Upcoming AP testing and how to ensure you get a “high 5”


Nicholas Brogle, Editor-in-Chief

As April approaches, the looming threat of Advanced Placement exams, better known as AP exams, becomes more apparent each day. To name this overwhelming time, math teacher Lisa Allen coined the phrase, “AP-Real,” which documents the harsh reality that most of April is spent reviewing entire curriculums.

Many students have spent long and hard hours working on preparing for this test, which is the culmination of learning that started at the beginning of quarter one.

If you’re like me, you haven’t even begun the trek of studying and preparing for the AP exams. We stand together, you are not alone! “The only preparation I’ve had is through the course itself,” stated junior Sage Spohn.

To combat this, some teachers try to integrate AP-style questions and testing into their classrooms in preparation for the exam. “Every now and then, my teacher throws us into AP Classroom or utilizes past FRQ questions to keep our minds fresh,” said junior Micaela Jebitsch.

Regardless of whether you’re taking an AP, honors, or CP course, here are some great studying tips to ensure that you improve.

Here are some great studying tips to help you improve your learning:

  • Conceptualize– When you memorize things, such as definitions, you use your short-term memory which is more prone to being lost over time. On the other hand, when you conceptualize, you make an understanding of the topic, which then goes into your long-term memory. Instead of memorizing, you can understand the process of how you got there, such as being able to derive those pesky physics formulas. In doing so, you will never be stuck forgetting a minuscule fact, as you’ll be able to use your memory along with critical thinking skills to understand why that fact exists.  
  • Making connections– By making connections, you are strengthening and making more neural connections in your brain. This makes your memory more efficient and makes it easier to remember. An easy way to accomplish this is to connect it to material that you’ve already learned, such as connecting one vocabulary word to that of a previous chapter. This is a psychology phenomenon known as neural networking, which is sure to help you on your journey to a 5.
  • Mnemonics– Have you ever had to memorize anything in a crunch? Mnemonics make it as easy as pie! They are memory aids, such as making a phrase where all the letters symbolize another concept. For example, when learning music for the first time, many musicians hear the phrase, “every good boy does fine.” This helps remember notes on the staff lines, as the first word begins with “e,” which indicates that the first note is E. To make this concept stick better, you should customize the phrases and make them as unique as possible, as you are more likely to remember cool and quirky phrases than bland ones.
  • Teach it to your peers– This is my all-time favorite method! By teaching it to your peers, such as a friend not in the class or a family member, you are essentially teaching it to yourself in the process, helping both you and your friend. When you teach it, you have to simplify concepts into ideas that they will understand, which also helps you understand the concepts better, killing two birds with one stone!
  • Flashcards– Although I do not like flashcards that much, they are useful for memorizing vocabulary that is necessary for understanding larger concepts in the course. To make the most out of your flashcards, you can use the Leitner System, which utilizes a psychological concept known as spaced repetition. With the Leitner System, you go through your first bank of flashcards and move all the ones you got right into bank two. After taking a break, you go over both bank one and bank two, moving each card onto a higher bank if you get it right. Here’s the catch; when you get a flashcard wrong, you send it back to bank one for further studying. You can use as many banks as you want, as long as you are spacing out the material.

Specifically for AP exams, here are some free online resources available to help you get a 5:

  • AP Live/Classroom– Started in the pandemic last year, College Board recently began releasing live review sessions where they cover material on the AP exam. The videos can range from helpful tips and strategies for taking a portion of the test, to doing timed open-ended practice where they go over in-depth analyses of the questions. You can either access these videos on YouTube, under the Advanced Placement channel, or you can find them via the AP Classroom website.
  • Fiveable– This is an online resource that helps students across the world prepare for the AP exams. With live trivia, reviews, and Q&A sessions, Fiveable is a great resource that will help boost your score. On the site, they also have “study guides” per unit, which are essentially outlined information that is really helpful. On top of these free resources, they also have passes you can purchase that give you access to a 5-hour “cram” event. This event is a week before your AP exam and it attempts to review the entire course within 5 hours. Fiveable is a great way to prepare, either for free or via small purchases.
  • NMSI (National Math + Science Initiative)– As stated in the name, this is an online program specifically tailored for STEM courses. Using your login information for Blackboard, which was emailed to you some time ago, you can sign up for review sessions similar to AP Live. Although, this site gives you more resources to follow along with, such as worksheets that correlate with the live sessions. There is always the option to watch it after it airs live, which gives the student more flexibility with their busy schedules.