How to Juggle Multiple AP Exams

May 15, 2017 22:31 |

High schoolers should follow these three steps for a healthy, successful AP exam week

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Sonya Ellis, in an article published in US News & World Report, gives some great advice for high school students facing AP exams. Following the SAFE Steps process maximizes a family’s options in the journey to college. Enter Sonya:

If you’re worried about Advanced Placement exam season, you’re not alone. For students who are taking more than one AP assessment, the stress can be overwhelming.

However, by doing a bit of planning, students can ensure that they not only have time to study for all the tests involved but also that they find time to decompress between exams. Here are three strategies to help you make the most of your AP exam week.

1. Secure any accommodations and resources: If you’re concerned about your school load during AP testing week, don’t hesitate to seek help.

Your guidance counselor and teachers should be familiar with any accommodations that can help you with the stresses of this time period, like extended library hours or temporary excusal from homework. Take advantage of any accommodations offered – extended library hours, for instance, can be a true haven for students who are seeking peace and quiet to study.

In addition, your AP instructors may have study guides and tips, words of encouragement and other resources. Ask them where you can find additional study materials, such as free-response questions from previous exams. If you aren’t certain about what to study before the exam, ask your teachers for guidance.

2. Create a comprehensive schedule: Students who keep a calendar may best manage the challenges of AP exam week, because they set aside time to meet all their academic needs.

In college, a well-planned, comprehensive calendar will make a significant difference during finals week or when two major assignments are due at the same time. Students who do not schedule their time according to their needs and abilities may find themselves setting unrealistic study expectations, which can lead to burnout and fatigue, or underestimating the amount of time they need, which leaves them short on review sessions.

It is likewise crucial to schedule study time for AP tests that occur immediately after other exams. If you have two tests on the same day or exams multiple days in a row, do not wait until the last minute to review. If you do, you will likely have time to prepare in-depth for only one test.


Your state of mind can also impact your performance on AP exams. Consider healthy ways you can release stress that won’t drain or tire you.

Be sure you take time to eat well and rest so you stay in top performance condition. And think through things that tend to distract you and what activities you may need to set aside temporarily to focus.

After considering these aspects, create a schedule that includes realistic blocks of time to study along with regular breaks. These breaks can be as short as taking a walk around the block. Be careful with relaxation techniques – such as video games – that may soak up too much time or be hard to step away from.

3. Vary review methods: Start by asking yourself how you best study for tests. Think about the situations in which you have been able to review most successfully, and then try to imitate those conditions.

Do you work well in a group or alone? Can you use one study technique, such as writing and referring to flashcards when tackling vocabulary, but switch to another – like summarizing key primary documents – when addressing free-response questions? This can help you limit boredom and burnout.

You may benefit from first revisiting content on your own and identifying areas that will require extra attention. Strengthen your performance in these areas with additional practice, and then ask for help from a family member, friend or teacher.

Do not choose your best friend as your study partner if you know you won’t focus together. Instead, find someone who works well with you as a learning resource and moral support.

Finally, if you aren’t sure where you study best, consider varying locations to find the ambiance that suits your preference while removing unnecessary distractions. Try coffee shops, libraries and different rooms at home.

With a little foresight and planning, the difficulty of preparing for multiple AP exams can become much easier.