How to prepare for AP exams

AP exams are just around the corner! During the first two weeks of May, students in Advanced Placement classes aim to receive college credits on their finals. As students prepare, science and math teachers have provided a few tips on how to strive for a 5 on exams in the STEM field. 

AP science courses present unique challenges to students, involving heavy memorization of concepts, vocabulary, mathematical formulas, connections to real life applications, and an understanding of data analysis and scientific investigation. AP Biology student Andrea Ciconte ’24 said, “The rigor and workload is heavy, but it [builds] context [for later] information to be learned.” She notes that the collegiate-level course provides depth to topics she had prior knowledge of, adding new layers of complexity and difficulty. Andrea’s teacher, Mrs. Nguyen, shared with the Sabre advice regarding preparation for AP exams. She highlights the importance of beginning the reviewing process early and mentions that building a study group to “divide and conquer” material may be a beneficial method to deepen understanding of the courses. Most importantly, she explains the importance of proper rest and self-care when prepping for these stressful exams. “Students make a huge mistake by thinking that studying all night and cramming the night before will help them retain the information. Your brain needs rest. Without adequate sleep and rest, over-worked neurons can no longer function to coordinate information properly, and we lose our ability to access previously learned information,” she said.  

In terms of AP math classes, AP Calculus BC teacher Mr. Sheehy relayed tips on preparation. “Doing questions from past AP exams is one of the best ways of preparing for the AP exam,” he said. AP Calculus BC is the highest level of high school math offered at St. John’s, and its daunting exam containing questions ranging from algebraic and logarithmic functions to real-world scenarios presents a challenge to many test-takers. Mr. Sheehy echoes Mrs. Nguyen’s advice to her AP Biology students. “The single best thing someone can do is get good sleep—to do well on the exam, you have to be thinking clearly and that is difficult to do when you are not fully rested,” he said.  

In these often-grueling review weeks before AP exam season, it is vital to not only study material thoroughly but to take care of yourself, whether you happen to be studying for an AP STEM exam, AP Literature, or simply going through the busy motions of a school year drawing quickly to a close. 

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