AP (advanced placement) courses are held every year with the goal of letting high school students experience and clear college level curricula and examinations (to put it mildly).
AP exams determine a student’s fate when it comes to being offered a course in a college of their choice. Of course, It comes naturally that a student MUST score high enough to catch the college board’s attention, which is easier said than done.
Having said that, here are a few tips which will help you tackle your AP exam with ease!
Following these is half the battle won!
- Focus on the question: be the question!
Many students jump into the exam with certain expectations as to what sort of questions might be asked in the exam, which can be quite disastrous. More often than not AP, questions tend to be misleading, putting the student in a tizzy as to what is actually being asked. For example, if a question were to ask about the effect of temperature on reaction rate, don’t imagine that the question had asked about the effect of temperature on the equilibrium constant. Read questions carefully, and underline the important components that you know the answer must address.
- Hey, what’s the time?
Like all exams, AP exams are time bound, meaning that you cannot prance around like a magic pixie horse, stopping to solve a random question and then taking a little over a century to come to the answer. Wear a watch, divide the questions into time slots, dedicating time to a question based on its difficulty on the spot. It goes without saying that easy questions shouldn’t take more than a minute (literally). This will also mean that you would have to be aware of the time after doing each and every question. Your goal is to reach the end of every section. (after all, the easiest questions might be at the end!!)
- Practice your performance beforehand.
Much like a musician practices playing a song a thousand times over before the concert, you must practice how to answer an AP question. This does not include your homework questions or your AP book questions. Go to the internet and search for old AP question papers and try solving them. As you revise your answers, think critically about which topics you are struggling with and may need to review.
- Present your work as if you were presenting it to Darth Vader
There are no points for neatness or presentation. However, there is a very good reason to present your work in an organised and legible fashion: Graders are human (surprise!). That means that late at night, after slogging through many days of grading thousands of exam papers, the last thing that a grader wants to do is try to decipher your scrawl and scribble. They are likely to get frustrated at the effort it’s taking and may not give you the benefit of the doubt if there is a judgement call to be made about one of your answers. Help them to help you!
- Units and significant figures- know what to use, and when to use it
There is only one point in the whole free-response section assigned to significant figures, and, moreover, it is not flagged for you. Make the best of this opportunity and avoid losing the easy point. As a broad rule of thumb, record your answer to any numerical problem with the same number of significant figures as given in the weakest piece of data. Remember, using the wrong units can be disastrous enough to send a rocket plummeting back to the earth (no joke, this has happened before).
- Double check your calculations
This is a general rule for every exam, especially for calculation intensive exams like AP.
As the test taker it is your responsibility to check that every last calculation has been performed to perfection. Even being off the mark by a single digit can cost you the entire question. Double check everything that you do, while making sure that the calculation you are doing are actually necessary.