How to Prepare for AP Exams

Each May, students across the United States and internationally take the Advanced Placement (or AP) exams. These exams, which cover college-level material, allow high school students to earn college credit through their AP scores. By demonstrating mastery of college course material, students can get a head start on college, saving themselves time and money, and challenging themselves with more advanced coursework.

From new apps to other digital resources, here are some steps for students to prepare for AP exams as well as tips for taking the exams:

4 Steps to Prepare for AP Exams

Take a course. You don’t have to take an AP course before taking the test, however, AP courses are good preparation for the exams. Remember that you still have to take the exams if you take a course. The course alone doesn’t earn you college credit. 


Prep on the go. With K12’s 13 new AP prep mobile apps for iOS and Android, you can study anywhere on your tablet or smartphone. The apps offer practice on multiple choice, free response, and essay questions, while built-in statistics let you track your progress to see how much you’ve mastered, and what you still need to review. The apps are available for purchase in  iTunes, Google Play, and Amazon AppStore. View all the full apps and free lite versions here

Know what to expect. The College Board, the organization behind the AP program, offers a number of resources for students, including information about scoring guidelines, test procedures, and subject-specific resources and study skills. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with this information as you prepare for your tests.

Know what to do (and not do) on exam day. Review the AP exam policies in advance and make sure you know exactly what you can and cannot bring in the exam room. Read the exam security rules and remember that your exam score could be canceled and you could be banned from taking future AP Exams if you’re caught discussing exam questions on or after exam day.

Tips for Taking AP Exams

Sasha Wall, K12’s Senior Manager of Curriculum & Learning Strategies offered some additional advice for students taking the AP exams. When exam day arrives, remember these helpful tips for success:

  • Show all your work; partial credit is given for partial solutions to problems. If the answer is not correct, you are not likely to receive credit for correct thinking if the person scoring the examination does not see evidence of this process on paper. If you do work that you think is incorrect, simply put an “X” through it, instead of spending time erasing it completely.
  • Be sure to write your answers and do all your work for each problem in the pages provided in the answer booklet.
  • Be neat when writing answers or filling in answer bubbles. Stray marks may be counted as wrong answers. If you need to erase an answer, erase it completely.
  • Don’t spend too much time on one question. If you have trouble answering a question, skip it and go on. If you have time later, return to the questions you skipped and try to answer them.
  • There is no pattern to correct answers on tests. If you marked D for three answers in a row, the next answer just might be D again. Any answer could be correct.
  •  Don’t rush through the test. If others finish while you are still working, don’t worry. Concentrate on doing your best. It doesn’t matter who finishes first.
  •  Stay calm and concentrate on the test. Don’t worry if you don’t know the answer to some of the questions. No one is expected to get every answer right on AP exams.

Are you taking the AP exams? Leave a comment and let us know how you’re preparing. Good luck!

Image via scubasteveo /CC 2.0 

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