Tips For Acing Your AP Exams

AP Exams are an essential milestone in your high school career. High School students who want to prepare for college-level courses and earn credits ahead of time should plan on taking these tests. But, how can you improve your chances of getting a 5 on your AP Exams?


Hard work is crucial if you want to do well on any Advanced Placement exam. But, to best prepare yourself for your tests, in addition to studying harder, you should also study smarter. This post will discuss top tips to help you ace your AP exams. We’ll also go over other test-taking strategies that will help you get the best results!

1. Study ahead of Time

The AP exams cover a lot of material. In order to have a good understanding of so much information, you’ll want to give yourself enough time to review everything that will be covered in your exam. 

Start preparing at least a month before the test date. This way, you’ll have ample time to go over any weak areas and get familiar with the style of the AP Exam. If you want to be extra prepared, start studying up to three months ahead of time. 

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2. Schedule Your Study Time

You also want to make a solid study plan for yourself. This way, you’ll identify in advance exactly what content you’ll need to study, and you’ll actually set aside enough time to go over all that material. Preparing for your AP exam can be intense, especially if you want to get a high score. Some experts even recommend studying for two hours for every hour you spend learning in class. 

The amount of time you need to review will depend on how comfortable you are with the test material, but regardless of how much time you decide to allot, plan on studying at a consistent time, and go over a little material every day. Also, use practice questions, study guides, and other methods to familiarize yourself with the layout of the exam. 

 3. Stay Active and De-stress 

Regular study sessions will help keep your mind sharp for your exams but don’t forget to take care of your body. Preparing for any major exam can cause stress and anxiety. It’s easy to get frustrated as you study, but you can manage your stress by staying active.

Take short breaks and go for a walk when you feel your mind wander. Do a little bit of yoga or meditation in the morning. Hang out with your friends when you finish studying for the day and do other activities that make you happy. It’s important to keep your life balanced, even when you’re preparing for AP exams.

4. Have a Nutritious Breakfast on Test Day

On the morning of your exam, prioritize eating a good breakfast. Don’t worry about cramming more information into your head on the morning of your AP Test. Just eat well and get ready to start your exam! The right kind of food will help fuel your brain and keep you energetic as take your test.

5. Sleep Well the Night Before Your Exam

Make sure to get a good night’s sleep the day before your exam, as well. No one wants to go into their AP exam tired. Lack of sleep makes it harder to concentrate and will cause you to perform worse on your exams.  

6. Answer the Easiest Questions First

Once you’re at your testing center, take a deep breath and read through the exam questions. We recommend starting off with the easiest questions first. This will help you build confidence and ensure that, if you do run out of time, the question that remains will be the hard ones. 

After you’re done with the easier questions, move on to the harder ones and spend more time figuring them out. If you start to run out of time on the harder questions, make an educated guess. There are no penalties for answering questions incorrectly on an AP Exam, so it’s best to answer every question.

7. Keep Track of Time During the Exam 

Make sure to keep track of time as you take your exam. You can bring a watch with you so you know exactly how much time you have left. Some questions will take longer to answer than others, but if you find yourself getting stuck, move on and answer another question. You can always come back and answer more difficult questions later. 

During the essay section, also keep time in mind. You want to plan and write your essay in a thoughtful way, but you should leave yourself enough time to finish your entire exam.

8. Read Over Exam Questions Carefully 

Read over every question carefully, especially in the essay portion. You want to make sure that your answer addresses the prompt properly. This way, you get full points for your essay. Take around five minutes to write an outline and main ideas for your essay, then get started.

Also, keep in mind that some questions in the multiple-choice section can get tricky, too. Don’t just breeze over questions because they seem easy to answer. 

9. Bring a Snack for Your Break and Try to Relax

Students will get time for a break. We recommend bringing a light snack with you, like a granola bar, trail mix, or something else that will give your energy levels a boost. As you eat your snack, if you feel yourself getting nervous, do some breathing exercises. You want to do your best to stay positive and confident as you move to the final section of your AP Exam. 

10. When You Finish Your Exam, Celebrate!

Once you’ve finished your AP Exam, let yourself celebrate a little! It’s tempting to go over all the test questions in your head and think about what you could have done better. Don’t bother! You’ve already taken your test. All you can do now is wait for your results. 

Don’t stress yourself out over what you can’t change. Instead, reward yourself for a job well done. You’ve made it through your AP exams. This is a huge accomplishment!

If you want to learn more about the college admissions process or college life in general, check out more of our blogs and resources here at HelloCollege. We believe that preparing for university shouldn’t be scary, and we are here to help guide you or your student through the process every step of the way.

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HelloCollege CEO Andrea Emmons has spent the last 15 years guiding students and families across the country on their path to college. Andrea knows the profound impact proactive college planning has on the lives of students and is passionate about mentoring families through the process.
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Inspired by his parents, Kevin’s journey from a first-gen, diverse, low-income background to Northwestern University shaped him. After experiencing challenges, including student loan debt, he founded HelloCollege and has spent the last 25 years helping students successfully navigate college admissions.

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