Some researchers believe that AP courses help students develop college-level study skills. Others argue that college admissions committees consider AP scores when calculating a student’s GPA.
However, little independent research has tested these claims. The few studies that use basic quasi-experimental methods do not provide strong evidence. To fill this gap, new research should use more robust methodologies.
Take a Sample Test
Taking a practice test will help you familiarize yourself with the exam format and give you an idea of the type of questions you’ll be asked. It will also make it easier to identify your weak points so you can focus on improving them. Ask your AP teacher for a practice test or search online for one.
A detailed study plan will ensure you notice all the topics you must review. By setting aside specific times to cover each case, you’ll be more likely to make progress and feel confident you’re ready for your AP exams. In addition, reviewing old homework assignments, quizzes, and tests can be an effective way to help you retain information and identify any gaps in your knowledge.
The AP program has become crucial for many students seeking admission to top universities. Yet, research suggests that high-achieving students from disadvantaged backgrounds are likelier to drop out of the program. Behavioral science researchers have demonstrated that making minor changes to how information is presented can dramatically impact an individual’s decision to participate in a program.
This is why it’s essential to understand how the AP program operates, how its academic benefits are measured, and with the help of resources for AP students. Most AP research uses quasi-experimental methodologies comparing AP students with non-AP students, which may obscure some of the program’s educational benefits.
Review Old Homework and Quizzes
Students can use past homework assignments to review and hone their understanding as they prepare for a test. For example, one study suggests students should review old lab assignments to understand how exam questions are worded. Another strategy is to quiz themselves on essential concepts or topics likely to appear on the upcoming test (such as the Civil War for history or cellular processes in biology).
These tactics can help students identify gaps where they must spend more time studying or practicing. They can also help them recall their answers when it comes time to take the actual AP exam.
Many AP courses significantly change student learning compared to regular school-level science classes. This can challenge some students who must be used to higher-order thinking or inquiry-based laboratory activities. Some respondents in our field research described how their students had spent years getting used to “cookbook”-style labs, where they were asked to follow directions step-by-step without engaging in any inquiry.
In the future, it would be helpful for AP researchers to consider the AP program as a collection of advanced curricular options rather than a single course or exam. This approach could yield more accurate standard error estimates and investigate the complex ways in which different contextual and treatment components influence specific AP outcomes.
Take a Practice Test
While reviewing old homework assignments and quizzes is a great starting point, students should also take practice tests that mimic the format of the real thing. A study by the College Board found that taking one full-length practice test significantly improves a student’s score on the actual AP exam. The best practice exams will be timed and set up in a way that closely simulates the test-taking environment.
Additionally, it is helpful for students to take the practice test in a quiet, distraction-free environment. This will help them better understand the areas where they still need to improve and focus their efforts accordingly. For example, students preparing for the AP Statistics exam should spend less time trying to memorize the formulas and more time working on the underlying concepts.
When preparing for an AP exam, a final consideration is understanding how colleges view AP test scores. While a three is acceptable for many schools, some may require a higher score to grant credit (see the table below). Students must review the policies of their target colleges and speak with guidance counselors to determine what score they should aim for.
To learn more about using AP Potential and the power of high-utility learning strategies, check out our free resource guide for AP teachers.
Schedule a Review Session
It’s a well-known theory in educational psychology that students must encounter information several times before it sticks. As a result, reviewing course material regularly is a critical strategy for effective learning. This is especially important for AP classes, where students often take an exam after a few months of studying.
A teacher can help students review course materials by scheduling a study session. In these sessions, students meet with their peers to read and comment on each other’s papers. This can be done in class or a peer-review group outside of school. Teachers should give each student a review worksheet with clear instructions and time limits to make the most of a study session. They should also designate a timekeeper to ensure each group stays on task.
For example, a student might spend 15 minutes reading their peer’s paper and 5-10 minutes writing comments. When they’re done, the peer reviewers should discuss their written feedback with their peers. This is where the writers can clarify their thoughts and provide additional insight into their peers’ work.
In addition to regular review sessions, students can make their own personal study schedule or use an online study tool. These tools will help them stay on track with their AP studies to maximize their chances of scoring a three or higher on their upcoming exam.