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How to Make a No-Fail Study Timeline for Spring AP Exams

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Though you may think you still have loads of time, once April of your spring semester hits, AP exams are right around the corner. If you haven’t done any sort of AP studying or test prep up until that point, you’re not alone. It’s not always wise to start studying for AP exams until April simply because your AP classes probably won’t have covered all the material for the exam until then.


However, by April, you should definitely have registered for all of your AP exams. Your school should have given you a link to register online for your AP exams. If they haven’t, see your guidance counselor immediately. If you want to know when all the AP exam dates are, you can click here. The exam schedule is uniform across the US.


Not sure how to prepare for your AP exams? We at CollegeVine are here to help. Whether you’re taking one exam or five, this month-by-month timeline will tell you everything you need to know to ensure that you’ll be well-prepared on test day.



Beginning of April: Prep Time!

April (or late March) is the month where you should begin prepping for your upcoming AP exams. You don’t have to buckle down and spend all of your time studying just yet, but you should definitely start reviewing the material and making sure you have everything in order. Here is a detailed outline of what test prep things you should be doing the first two weeks of April:


Determine which tests you are going to take (if you haven’t already)

In order to register for an exam, you need to register with College Board and make sure that your school is aware of your registration, as they are responsible for proctoring the test. Usually, your teachers or school administrators will give you the exact link that will take you to an online registration page.



Gather your study materials

Have you considered purchasing some AP test guides or practice exams from your local bookstore or online? These books are great for practice questions and for detailed summaries of all the material you should know. Going over those chapter summaries is definitely more efficient than trying to cram a year’s worth of lecture notes into your head.



Do a preliminary practice exam

Rather than trying to study everything you’ve learned in a particular AP subject this past school year, it’s more effective to do some targeted studying and focus on the concepts where you are weakest. You won’t know which subjects or topics are your weakest, however, until you take a practice exam. Take an initial practice exam without doing much review and see what you still remember. Then, go back through the exam and see which topics you most frequently missed. Those are the topics you want to go back through in detail before your AP exam. Of course, you should also review the topics that you did better on, but those shouldn’t be your first priority.



Start writing

Almost every AP exam has a writing component, including more technical exams like Psychology and Biology. Thus, it’s important to build up your writing skills before the AP exam. Whenever you are practicing a writing prompt, be sure to time yourself to get yourself used to writing quickly with few errors. In addition, make sure that you are comfortable with each essay format and know how to write in the style that your specific exam is looking for. For example, you wouldn’t write a world history Document-Based Question essay in the same way you would write a Psychology essay.



End of April: Study, Study, Study!

Once you’ve reached the last two weeks of April, the hardcore studying needs to begin. Hopefully, you’ve already started reviewing concepts and have answered a few practice questions, so you know what you need to review and how you should organize your studying. Now, it’s time to execute your study plan:



Hardcore concept review/practice questions

By now, your AP classes should have covered all of the concepts that are going to be on the exam. Thus, now it’s all about reading those chapter summaries, going over your old lecture notes, and doing as many practice questions as you can to get the hang of how College Board likes to ask questions and try to trick you.

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Group study

At this point, most of your friends and classmates will be studying for the same AP exams as well. Odds are, you are all using different study strategies and working with different study materials. It may be beneficial for you all to get together and orally discuss all the different topics that are going to be on the exam. This way, you can gain from each other’s knowledge, and you can feel secure that you understand each topic since you will have explained it to someone else.



Make sure there are no time conflicts

There are very few instances in which one would be allowed to miss an AP exam and still be able to take it at a later date (it happens, but it’s not that common). So check your schedule NOW and make sure that you are completely free on the days that you are taking AP exams. Most schedule conflicts will not be accommodated by your school or College Board.



May: Crunch Time!

Well, it’s AP test time. All AP exams happen within first two weeks in May, so the time for hardcore studying is over. At this point, it’s just a matter of doing some last-minute concept review and making sure that you have everything you need for test day:



Go over everything one last time

Don’t bother with the nitty gritty details of each chapter. Just skim through each topic/concept and make sure that you know the main ideas, formulas, and basic strategies.



Take one final practice exam

It’s incredibly rewarding to see how much you’ve improved your score and how much more your know after taking that initial practice test. Seeing your score improve on that final practice exam could put your mind at ease before test day.



Don’t cram the night before

On the night before the exam, you pretty much know everything you’re going to know for the exam. Don’t bother with last-minute cramming. Gather all of your testing materials and get a good night’s sleep. You’ll need it for that long exam tomorrow.



Make sure you have all of your testing materials

AP exam testing facilities are fairly strict about what you can and cannot use during the exam. You will need both a Number 2 Pencil AND blue or black pens (no other color is permitted), an eraser, a government-issued ID, a calculator (if the exam you’re taking requires it), fresh batteries, and NO electronic devices. You can also bring a water bottle and a light snack to have during your breaks if you’d like.



For More Information

Need some help studying for a specific AP exam? We at CollegeVine have developed some comprehensive AP exam guides that can help you study for each exam you are taking:


Ultimate Guide to the U.S. Government and Politics AP Exam

Ultimate Guide to the AP Physics 2 Exam

Ultimate Guide to the AP Statistics Exam

Ultimate Guide to the Art History AP Exam

And more!


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Sadhvi Mathur
Senior Blogger

Short Bio
Sadhvi is a recent graduate from the University of California, Berkeley, where she double majored in Economics and Media Studies. Having applied to over 8 universities, each with different application platforms and requirements, she is eager to share her knowledge now that her application process is over. Other than writing, Sadhvi's interests include dancing, playing the piano, and trying not to burn her apartment down when she cooks!