Tips From an Orange County AP Tutor: Spring AP Timeline

AP students are starting to freak out right about now. No one should blame them because the middle of May is closer than most of us think. Students who have yet to order a test prep book for their AP subjects should stop reading, tab over, and order one online immediately. Students should also consider if they will be successful studying on their own or if they need help from an Orange County AP tutor.


Additionally, students are advised to remember that there’s a difference between taking an AP course and taking an AP test. Test preparation is a subject in and of itself and many students who perform well during an in-class essay or exam (without the ultimate stress of a make-it or break-it exam) may not necessarily perform well on the exam. There aren’t any second chances or do-overs when it comes to the real AP exam, which causes many AP students to suffer from run-of-the-mill, but no less distressing, test anxiety. One of the best ways to overcome fear of exams is to be well-prepared (READ: “Last Minute AP Study Guide”).

April 1st to April 15th

The first two weeks of April are an important time for students to dive straight in to their AP exam prep. Although many students will be on spring break for one of these weeks, they are advised to make a timeline of study before going off on vacation so that they can jump into their studies the minute they return home. Students who do not already have a test prep book or a tutor are advised to look into it straight away. A great way for a student to determine whether or not they need assistance from a tutor or study group is to take one of the full-length practice tests in their test booklet. Students are advised not to view their course grades or quizzes as a fully accurate reflection of their AP exam score because the actual exam is much longer and more stressful. Although many students thrive under pressure, most lose a few points here and there due to time constraints and nerves.

April 15th to May 1st

This is the time when students should tell their family and friends that they’ll be spending most of their time studying at the library in a quiet environment. This two-week period can be a make-it or break-it situation for countless students across the country, thus this period of time should be highly focused. Although it may not seem like it, spending two weeks cracking the books is nothing compared to the entire year a student has been studying in an AP class at school. It’s important for students to remember that they need a minimum of a “3” on the AP exam in order to receive college credit (READ: “Ask a Nerd! Mastering AP English”).

It’s recommended that students take a full-length practice test at least once a week during this time. Students should work on their own, with their study group, or with their tutor anywhere between 4 & 10 hours a week between April 15th and May 1st. Students should also remember to communicate with their tutor as to which areas they are struggling with the most so that they can focus in on these particular areas as a team and allow for extra time for improvement. However, students should still review areas they are scoring high in so that these topics and concepts remain fresh in their minds.

May 1st to May 15th (depending on the date of the actual exam)

Students are advised to continue to develop their weakest points during this period but also begin to taper off their studies in order to be adequately rested for game day. The best things to focus on during this time are general review and test prep strategies. Students can work with their tutor to determine whether or not they are a skilled test-taker or if they need help with basic process of elimination and trick questions. It’s also essential that students receive a minimum of eight hours of sleep the two or three days leading up to the exam. Additionally, they should be getting adequate exercise and nutrition that will aid in their mental concentration on exam day (READ: “AP Test Without the Class?”).

Bottom line

Because students have made a commitment to their AP classes since last August, it only makes sense for them to follow an adequate test prep plan leading up to their May AP exams. Practice makes perfect and test prep strategies can aid greatly in the success of the exam. Two to six weeks of study now can potentially save a student from taking an entire semester-long class upon entrance to college.

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