AP exams: 5 Ways to Improve Your AP Exam Score From an Irvine AP Tutor


It’s that time of year again when students begin to start thinking about their advanced placement exams. Most students are taking AP classes by the time they’re in their junior year but some are starting to take courses sophomore year. AP courses require a large amount of homework and many important tests throughout the academic year but nothing compared to the final exam in May. Most students become overwhelmed by that point in the year because they’re also thinking about taking the SAT or ACT and their minds are exhausted from doing so many educational tasks that have occurred earlier in the year. The best way for students to overcome stress and do well in the spring is to start early and plan ahead – our private Irvine AP tutoring will help you score high on your AP exam.

1.   Identify areas to improve

If students try to study every single piece of information within their textbook, they’ll become overwhelmed very quickly. Instead, students are encouraged to look at their personal strengths and weaknesses in their AP courses and figure out what they need to hone in on before they start their study sessions really. Topics they already feel 100% on can be reviewed but won’t require quite as much effort. One of the best ways to identify strengths and weaknesses is to work with a tutor one-on-one or make an appointment with the classroom teacher at lunch. It’s often easier for another person to identify patterns and then give good advice to the student.

2.  Create an outline before studying

Another great thing for students to do is create an outline before they begin their study sessions. A student can identify different topics that may appear on the exam, look at different time periods they need to study or make a list of difficult concepts. This way they can tackle their study in smaller chunks and improve self-esteem by knowing they have accomplished and entire topic. Outlines also help keep students organized and help them manage their time (READ: AP Test Without the Class?).

3.  Take a practice test

It’s really important for students to take a practice test before they get too far into their study session because it will help them understand the format they will need to be familiar with on the big day. Each course will have slightly different formatting, but standardized testing is uniform across all topics in some respects. Students also need to get used to the short amount of time they will have to answer questions or write an essay. If a student scores lower than a three they know they have more work to do. The sooner they find this out, the more likely they will be to improve.

4.  Refine writing skills

Nearly every AP course requires excellent writing skills. Students either need to complete a free response question or write an essay of some sort. In particular, many students need to work on making their writing more concise and cutting out words that are unnecessary. This will get their point across more easily and also help cut down the amount of time it takes to complete the response. As an bonus, refining writing skills will also help students with their SAT and ACT prep.

5.  Develop a test prep strategy

After students have been studying for a while, they should develop a personal test prep strategy. How many points do they wish to improve? Which colleges are they applying to (this could make a difference as to what score is acceptable)? Do they need to work on speed when it comes to reading or writing? Do they need to work on concentration? These questions are difficult for a student to answer on their own and so it’s always good to have the help of a tutor, study group, or classroom teacher to develop a strategy that works for the student’s individual learning needs.

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