The Harbinger Online

Elaine’s AP Test Tips


Well, it’s officially May.

With the start of this month comes many mixed emotions, especially for graduating seniors. These feelings mostly consist of excitement mingled with the usual overwhelming stress. And if you are taking any AP tests, that stress is multiplied exponentially. We won’t even get into those poor souls who are IB testing. So even though it seems nothing will ever get you through the next two weeks, here are a few tips for AP tests that I’ve come up with in my third year of taking them. Hopefully you will find them helpful, or at least somewhat of a diversion from actually studying.

  1. Don’t procrastinate. It’s a little too late at this point to warn against this, but remember for future reference. I know most of you are just now starting to take out practice tests and running to Half-Price Books to pick up a copy of “5 Steps to a 5” – trust me, I am too. After all these years, I’ve never followed the advice of my smarter side not to procrastinate, in spite of the agony it always causes. If you start reviewing a few weeks before the test, you will find that you know the material much better, and you will stress less the week of the exam. (Disclaimer: I cannot say for sure if this method works, as I have never tried it myself. But I’ve heard it from enough parents and teachers that it must be true, right? Might as well give it a try.)
  2. Sleep. What is that again? Let’s look it up, since we high schoolers are so deprived of it that most of us can’t remember what it means. Verb: “to take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness” – courtesy of If you can manage to do that for seven to nine hours a night, it will make you more alert and less stressed out on test day. Study, of course, study for hours, but sleep for hours too, because there is always time for both (note the bitter sarcasm of a jaded second-semester senior).
  3. Eat breakfast. Yes, I am guilty of breaking this rule as well. It’s been several months since I’ve eaten breakfast on a school morning, but back when I did, I felt more energized in the morning and hungry in a good way at lunchtime. In general, it is much better for your health if you eat breakfast every day. But many of us just don’t have it in us to wake up at 6:20 instead of 6:30 and throw together a bowl of cereal every day of the week. So, make an exception for each of your exam days, and make sure you have some food in you before you go in to take the test. Passing out in the middle of a synthesis essay is never a good thing.
  4. Keep your eyes on the light at the end of the tunnel. Remember, a test is just a test. The rest of your life is not riding on your score, no matter how much you feel like it is. It’s taken me a long time to realize this, and even though it’s hard to stop stressing, it really helps to know that after AP tests are over I’m done. If I can get through four hours of nonstop calculus, I can get through anything. And this applies to each and every one of all my fellow AP students out there. So as difficult as it may seem, try to just relax and get through it. You’ll be done before you know it. Good luck to you all.
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