What to Expect with AP Tests


Final exams for advanced placement courses begin this week. These exams cover everything students learned in their AP class, and they are a reflection of the students’ knowledge in the course. AP classes are taught at a faster pace than regular or honors classes. AP students often receive more coursework throughout the year, and they take a cumulative exam in May.

These exams often require lots of study time for students as the test is over every single unit they have gone over in their course. Some tests have questions solely focused on the first unit a student learned, so students normally spend lots of time reviewing each unit in the weeks leading up to the test.

Studying an entire AP course takes time, and there are many resources and tactics students can use to prepare for their exams. Junior Lucy Reid is an AP student who has taken AP exams in the past, and they have learned the studying procedures that work for them.

“In the past, I tried to cram study and look over every little detail to prepare, but I found that just stresses me out more,” Reid said. “Overstudying can stuff your brain, and you’ll end up too worried to remember the basics on the day of the test. I now look over concepts and few specifics to understand a whole unit.”

Some commonly used platforms students use to study for AP tests are Quizlet and AP Classroom. There are lots of videos on YouTube students can watch about their AP course, and AP teachers often host review sessions as testing approaches. Teachers also utilize skills needed to complete the AP tests in class so the students are prepared for the exam in May.

“In class, you have to sort of replicate the exam by doing multiple choice questions or other types of AP questions depending on what test you’re taking,” sophomore AP student Cameron Humlicek said. “These are difficult but highly necessary to be prepared for the exam.”

AP tests are scored by the College Board on a scale of 1-5, with one being the lowest and five being the highest. A score of a 3 is what most colleges consider a passing score for AP students. AP Statistics teacher Jessica Jolkowski did the math to see what amount of the test students need to do well in to succeed.

“If you play around with a score calculator, you realize that you can get half the available points and still earn an excellent score of 4,” Jolkowski said. “So many AP students, I think, are used to being expected to aim for 100% on their exams all throughout high school, but on the AP exams, a 60% is fantastic! Don’t get discouraged when it’s difficult – you can still make a slam dunk without hitting the ceiling.”

Most tests take three to four hours for students to complete. There is often a timed multiple-choice section and timed written session, and students must use their time wisely to complete each section within the given time frame. Junior Jaden Posipishil picked up lots of test taking skills throughout his experience as an AP student.

“I have learned from past AP tests to not stress too much about any one question as these tests are meant to be challenging,” Posipishil said. “Most students will not know how to solve every problem, just try your best and answer the ones you know or take your best guess.”

One reason many students take AP courses is to receive college credit. These courses are made for college students, so they prepare students for the classes they would take at a university. By taking the AP exam, students have the opportunity to get college credit and be ahead in their studies if they receive a score of a three or higher.

“By design, AP classes are college preparatory,” Burke AP teacher Anthony Razor said. “So, theoretically, by taking AP classes, students should be prepared to enter university and be able to do well from day one. If we do it right, the transition from high school to college should be smooth.”

Not only can students taking AP classes get college credit, but they can learn skills through the course that they can utilize throughout their life. AP English Language and Composition teacher Kristi Bryant sees all the benefits Advanced Placement courses give to students.

“Of course, the opportunity to earn college credit is nice, but even more beneficial is the chance to develop college level skills,” Bryant said. “The reading, writing, and critical thinking skills that students learn in AP classes can benefit them in the classes they’ll take in college and even in situations they’ll face in life. Other skills, like time management and problem solving, are important, too. It’s about more than ‘learning stuff.’ It’s about growing as a student.”

Although the season of AP exams can seem stressful to students, they get to go through it with their classmates who know exactly what they are going through. Junior Tommy Vasquez has learned to appreciate his fellow AP students this school year.

“The best part of being an AP student is the people you meet in class,” Vasquez said. “They are all helpful and responsible students that are going through the same process as you and are willing to help you become a better student.”