Are You Ready for the New AP Exams?

You may feel unprepared for the new AP exams right now, but there’s no need to get overwhelmed.

The College Board has made a considerable number of resources available to help students study for AP tests. We’ve sifted through this information to find you the best resources—and the best way to use them. Here are our recommendations:

AP Exam Tips for Students

Learn about the specific structure of the exam(s) you’ll be taking.

This page will give you course-specific information on the format of the exam as well as the units that will be covered. Remember that some units that would typically appear later in the curriculum may not appear.

Review the units and topics that will be on the exam.

If this is not clear from your instructor’s syllabus, you can use a sample syllabus like this one (from the “course audit” tab on each exam page) to see the full list of subtopics within units.

Categorize each topic based on your confidence in the material.

You can use the following categories to evaluate each topic:

    • Solid. You would correctly answer 75% or more of the possible questions on this topic; you could explain the concepts fluidly to a friend.
    • So-so. You would correctly answer 50-75% of the possible questions on this topic; you could explain some of the concepts to a friend, but others would be confusing.
    • Shaky. You would correctly answer fewer than 50% of the possible questions on this topic; you would have difficulty explaining most or all of the concepts to a friend.

Set up a review schedule for yourself.

Start by focusing on topics in the “so-so” category. Then move to topics in the “shaky” category You should also continue to review “solid” topics, although you will probably need to spend less time on these areas. Your review schedule should include time to:

    • Review or learn the concept. In addition to reviewing your notes, textbook, AP review book, and/or other materials provided by your instructor, check out the videos on AP’s YouTube channel, organized into playlists for each class. Here’s where a tutor or a study group could also be useful to you.
    • Practice applying concepts on simple drill-type questions. Practice applying the concepts you learn on practice problems, either from a textbook, a review book, or the like.
    • Practice questions in the exam format. These questions are available through AP Classroom (your teacher will need to make these available to you). If you are not in an AP class but are taking an exam, a third-party review book will be your best source for practice tests. Also take note of any videos about free response questions (FRQs) on the YouTube playlist for your class.

As you review, take notes on your notes.

Annotate your list of topics with where to find more information (e.g., your textbook, notes, or other review materials). This will come in handy if you hit a topic on your exam that you are a little shaky on—you’ll know exactly where to look to refresh your memory.

Prepare for exam day.

You’ll have a limited amount of time to work on your answers, and another 5 minutes to submit your responses. You’ll also need to log on to the system 30 minutes early to get set up.

    • Make sure you have a solid internet connection and a quiet place to work.
    • Organize your materials and notes, and have them within reach at your workspace.
    • Decide if you will type responses or upload handwritten work. For certain classes, you’ll have the option of either typing your answers or uploading a picture of your handwritten work. Typing responses in classes like AB or BC Calculus may require you to enter and format mathematical expressions, which could be frustrating and take up valuable time. Pick the option that works for you in advance, and make sure you are comfortable with all the related logistics.
    • Get familiar with the system for receiving questions and submitting your answers. CollegeBoard says they will notify students and educators about the platform and how to access it in late April.

It’s understandable if your head is spinning a little right now—this is a lot of information to take in! While the new format and technological component might seem daunting, the core of the AP exams should not be much different from past years. These tests are designed to measure the knowledge you’ve acquired over a year-long curriculum; all the hard work and studying you have put in up to this point matters.

If you’re struggling to find the motivation to study or prepare for AP exams right now, or if you have other questions about the tests, please reach out to us ( or 617-714-5262). We’re here to support you.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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