How to Handle Multiple AP Exams

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As junior year rolls around, or possibly even before, you’re probably going to be taking a lot of AP courses. These rigorous classes test your skills in certain subjects as well as your stamina and ability to handle a challenging, college-level curriculum. In some cases, you might take the exam but not the course, which is also a test of your self-discipline and motivation.


Juggling multiple AP exams can be overwhelming, especially when test season arrives. So how can you keep your head above water and ensure that you do your very best?


Choose AP Courses That Match Your Strengths

It’s fine to challenge yourself—in fact, you should. Still, don’t overload your schedule just to have a bunch of APs to show colleges. Instead, play to your strengths. Choose the exams and courses that best complement your skills. For instance, if you’re a math whiz, but humanities aren’t your strong suit, go for AP Calculus, and maybe skip AP U.S. History.


If you don’t think you’re going to get at least a B in an AP course, you should probably opt for the regular version, where you’ll earn a higher grade. For more advice on figuring out your AP load, check out How to Choose Which AP Courses and Exams to Take.

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Plan Ahead

Pay attention to when the AP exams are. Take a look at the College Board’s calendar to find out when you’ll be sitting for your exams.


Create a personal schedule for yourself so you delegate enough time to preparing for every subject. If you want to take an exam for a course in which you’re not enrolled, figure out how to schedule it. Read How to Register for AP Exams Even if You Didn’t Take the Class for tips on how to do so.


Don’t wait until the last minute to start studying. You should be studying and learning the information throughout the year. If it looks like your teacher might not reach the end of the curriculum before the test, go ahead and study the information yourself. That way, you’ll be less stressed in the weeks leading up to the test. You should also be taking plenty of practice tests along the way.


Avoid gearing all your studying to the last quarter of the syllabus. The exam will cover the entire year. Also remember to schedule breaks to avoid burnout.


Know what you’ll need for test day and lay everything out the night before. If you need special accommodations, research what’s available and what you need to do.



While you should always strive to do your best, low AP scores will not hurt your college applications substantially. Check out How Much Do AP Scores Matter? for information on how colleges use—and don’t use—AP scores for admission.


Still, there are some advantages to earning high scores, such as college credit, placement, and certain awards you may receive.


For advice on preparing for specific AP exams, read CollegeVine’s guides.


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Short Bio
Laura Berlinsky-Schine is a graduate of Johns Hopkins University, where she majored in Creative Writing and minored in History. She lives in Brooklyn, New York and works as a freelance writer specializing in education. She dreams of having a dog.

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