Advanced Placement courses are hard — there’s no way. It’s understandable that even the best students sometimes falter in their AP classes. After all, these courses are designed to reflect the rigor of university courses, and from the first day of the academic year, you should study hard.
Well, as an AP student, you may be in any of the following situations: First, you are considering dropping an AP course because of poor academic performance, but the deadline for withdrawal has passed. Or, second, your AP classes are going well, but you’re looking for advice to help you excel. In either case, follow these three tips for AP success.
Divide to-dos into smaller, more manageable chunks
Time management is essential in AP courses. Without it, you’re bound to fall behind pretty quickly, and if you do, you’re going to need some serious effort to get back on track.
Given the fast-paced and heavy workload of AP classes, students should be prepared to take full notes in class and start working on assignments as soon as they become available. Comprehensive notes will serve as a convenient review tool as the year-end exam season approaches. Also, starting your assignment early will give you time to revise your work and ask your tutor any questions you may have.
To handle lengthy reading assignments, break them up into smaller, more manageable chunks. For example, instead of reading 40 pages the day before an assignment is due, read 20 pages a day for the first two days or 10 pages a day for the first four days.
For long-term research projects, set yourself a reasonable timeline. For example, you can create deadlines for each phase of a given project: preliminary research, topic selection, resource gathering, outline creation, etc.
During the summer, when your academic commitments are less, you’ll be wise if your instructor releases AP readings and coursework.
Thinking about tasks in their entirety can feel overwhelming, but solving them incrementally will allow you to slowly but surely progress toward your larger goal.
Combine your AP study with an enjoyable pastime
Needless to say, you should study for every exam you take in an AP course, not just the end-of-year exam. But learning doesn’t always have to happen at the local library or bedroom desk. Not everyone learns best under these conditions. Some people need absolute silence to study effectively, while others like to have some white noise in the background.
The environment in which you study can determine the success of your studies. Therefore, your goal should be to feel comfortable and satisfied with your surroundings — but not be overly distracting.
One way to create an enjoyable learning environment is to incorporate personal hobbies. Are you an AP foreign language student who loves sports? If so, upload a song, podcast, or ebook to your phone so you can practice listening comprehension in that language while you work out.
Meanwhile, AP Psychology students with a strong interest in film art can get together to watch films and analyze the psychological phenomena they observe in film characters.
Take your studies outside in the summer, when you’re having a particularly hard time gaining motivation. For example, sports fans who take AP Calculus AB in the fall can review elementary math content with an outdoor game of HORSE or bean bag toss.
By engaging in a beloved hobby while studying, the learning process will feel easier and more effective.
Discover how you learn
Each student has at least one learning style to determine the best conditions for his or her content retention. In the traditional model, there are three learning styles: visual, auditory, and kinesthetic. For example, kinesthetic learners learn best when they move around and engage in hands-on work.
If you don’t know your learning style or style, don’t worry because you can easily find this information. One way is to reflect on what you did during your studies, culminating in a particularly successful academic performance.Another way is to take free online diagnostic tests such as LearningStyleQuiz.com or EducationPlanner.org.
The next step is to start experimenting with learning techniques. First, you should practice techniques that are consistent with your learning style. For example, if you are a visual learner, use and create learning materials with lots of pictures, charts, and graphs. Auditory learners can listen to recorded lectures (eg, TED Talks) and debate the course material with their peers.
If one research technique does not yield favorable results for you, use another. The idea is to keep experimenting with options until you find the tool or combination of tools that works best for you.
Do well in this year’s AP classes by prioritizing and breaking down tasks, adding personal interest to your learning routine, and catering to your learning style.