Reflecting on the AP Test Season

Reflecting on the AP Test Season

The AP season is a whirlwind, filled with last-minute studying, late-night panic attacks, and more trips to the library than normal. Between the two of us, we have taken nine AP tests which include AP US History (APUSH), AP Biology, AP Calculus AB, AP Language and Composition, AP Psychology, AP Seminar, AP Spanish Language and Culture, AP US Government and Politics, and AP World History. Here are some of our reflections from this past AP season.

As many will repeat monotonously, it is important to start preparing for the AP tests months in advance. Teachers will typically do a great job reviewing material consistently throughout the year, but it is on the student to ensure that the information sticks as lessons flood notebooks. Speaking of notebooks, note-taking can be a great asset when reviewing for AP tests, and better notes can help organize information more easily. Online websites and videos can also aid in cementing ideas and filling in gaps for concepts students are weak on. There are also numerous AP practice books that can be ordered online to help students practice for the upcoming tests. However, one thing to note is how the night before an AP test should not be used as a cram session. Sleep is important in ensuring a clear mind for the test, especially for the AP Language exam, which involves a student writing three essays within a two-hour and fifteen-minute time frame in addition to an hour of reading and multiple choice questions. AP tests will typically be around three hours, starting at either eight in the morning or noon depending on the test. Another thing to note is to bring a snack and eat before your tests. You won’t be able to efficiently take the test while your stomach grumbles. Additionally, extra pencils and pens are a must for any exam. Besides these overarching tokens of advice, we also wanted to share our own experiences and takeaways from the AP testing process. 

Kailyn’s Experience: 

This is my first year experiencing the AP exam whirlwind, and although I was worried in the days leading up to the tests, I found them to be overall alright! There are so many resources made available to students from test booklets to textbooks, and I would definitely recommend taking a practice test before the actual exam. While knowing the material is important, it is also necessary to learn how College Board word certain questions and to get familiar with the testing format. When studying, for tests such as AP Biology and APUSH, I would recommend knowing the broad concepts cold. In recent years, these tests (especially AP Biology) have moved away from quizzing on very specific ideas to instead testing how well a student understands the overall idea. However, that doesn’t mean to throw all specific vocabulary terms out the window. Free response questions (FRQs) are a chance for students to demonstrate what they know, and being able to use key terms as evidence will help grab some extra points. As for AP Calculus, on the other hand, you have to know the concepts inside and out. As the test date gets closer, math teachers hand out many practice tests for students to practice with, and those are incredibly important to do. During the test, endurance is also going to be a key player as there is typically only one ten-minute break within a three-hour testing period. Thus it is important to keep your mind sharp even after a break and to use that time wisely to drink water, eat food, and go for a walk. With all this in mind, don’t stress on the test date. Nerves will certainly be there, but it’s important to not panic and stay confident.

Lucia’s Experience: 

This is my second year taking APs, and I can confidently say that the beginning of spring is stressful but doable. Though hard, do try to start studying and reviewing early, even if you just reread your notes, take a mini quiz on the topics, or skim your textbook, it will be helpful. From my experience, it’s best to know your terms well for tests such as AP Psychology and AP Lang. Additionally, review videos are key for more history-based tests. These videos (my personal favorite channel is Heimler’s History) summarize overarching themes and help you pinpoint what you know versus what you need to focus on. Also, self-studying is not as daunting as one may think it to be. Now, with this being said I am not encouraging anyone to self-study APUSH or AP Physics, however, if you already are fluent in a language or know a lot about a subject, why not take the AP? This is especially advice for sophomores who love history—take the AP World History exam, you already know the majority of the curriculum, so why not? Lastly, remember that you know what you are doing when you enter the testing room. You have been preparing and studying for this test for a whole year, don’t start overthinking or second-guessing yourself now. AP tests seem much more daunting than they actually are. 

Overall, the AP tests aren’t anything to lose sleep over. If you put in the hard work, all you can do is try your best. The best part about these tests is how after mid-May, AP classes become more relaxed. AP Biology becomes filled with more labs such as the infamous cat dissection, APUSH is filled with fun movies, and AP Calculus days are spent working on hilarious music videos. So, cherish the memories made in these AP courses with the study sessions and camaraderie built between classmates. At the end of the day, success isn’t measured by the score you got on an AP test you can’t even remember. Instead, it’s found through the growth and relationships made along the way. In most cases, the memories from an AP course won’t come from sitting in on the AP test and not knowing the answer to number thirty on a multiple choice section. Instead, it’ll be from the study days with friends and memorable class moments. Thus embrace the AP test as a pivotal moment within your academic career, which isn’t the end of the world. Instead, these tests are challenges that must be approached with hard work and determination.

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About the Contributors
Kailyn Cho
Kailyn Cho, Senior Staff Writer
Kailyn Cho ('25) is excited to be a Senior Staff Writer for The Echo. She enjoys playing tennis, traveling around the world, and chasing sunsets.
Lucia Martinez-Pelaez
Lucia Martinez-Pelaez, Guest Writer
Lucia Martinez-Pelaez ('25) is very excited to be a guest writer in The Echo. She is an avid reader and loves to keep up with international as well as school news. Outside of school she loves to run, sew, and hike as well as hang out with her friends and dog.