Top 10 Tips from AP Summer Institute Instructors to Prepare Students for an AP Exam

by Carolina Staff
students studying in classroom

Test day may be several weeks or even several months away, but it is crucial to start preparing early for the AP exams rather than later so that you’re not rushing through test preparation in May. Here are some tips you can use to incorporate test preparation and practice into your curriculum throughout the year or semester.

  1. Review the latest standards and updates. The first place to go for official, up-to-date information about curriculums and test measures is the Advances in AP website. Stay informed with new techniques and advancements in your discipline like bioinformatics and citizen science programs that are local, regional, and even global.
  2. Cover all the tested topics in your course. If you will not finish the curriculum, spend the last few weeks covering the remaining tested topics. Allow extra review for the concepts that will be tested most heavily. To determine what to cover, review the course descriptions:
  3. Administer practice free-response questions (FRQs) to help your students improve their writing skills and give them practice writing full, concise answers. Use FRQs from previously released exams to help prepare students. Here are some links to course descriptions containing FRQs and resources from past exams:
  4. Use appropriate questions throughout the course to help familiarize your students with the questions they will encounter on the exam. Remember to include both essay and multiple-choice questions. Some teachers use questions from released exams, textbook test banks, and other review materials.
  5. Practice math without calculators. It is important to remember that calculators are NOT permitted on some exams, so consider prohibiting calculators during practice exams.
  6. Emphasize lab work. Students should have as much practice with data analysis and experimental design as possible. Lab simulations are also available online; however, examine them critically before recommending them to students.
  7. Help students develop critical-thinking skills. Use case studies from online resources and colleges and universities to encourage students to build these skills.
  8. Share information with fellow teachers. Use a virtual sharing website (like SharePoint or Dropbox™) for sharing lessons with other teachers and to learn and share information about all facets of the course. For professional development, attend conferences that allow you to share ideas with other teachers. Many conferences are offered at state and regional levels, so extensive travel is not required.
  9. Encourage your students to study outside class. Prepare a study outline so students can focus on the concepts most likely to be tested. Try offering tutorial sessions for students after class. At some of these sessions, students may study in groups to go over difficult concepts or come to you for extra help.
  10. Prepare your students with tips and reminders. Distribute a list of tips for test day. Remember to list the materials they need to bring. Also include basics such as getting plenty of sleep, eating a healthy breakfast, dressing comfortably, and bringing a jacket.

By following these tips and using the recommended tools and resources, you can prepare your students for exam success.

*AP® is a trademark registered and/or owned by the College Board®, which was not involved in the production of, and does not endorse, these products.

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