How to do well on the AP test

Nicholas Scoggins, Staff Reporter

It is almost testing season at Vandegrift High School, when students hoping to get a head start on college level courses will take one of the many AP tests.


By scoring high on these tests, students can earn college credit that will allow them to finish their major earlier. Because of this, there is an immense amount of pressure to do well on these exams, especially since they are considered by many to be the entire reason for taking the AP courses in the first place. Here are some tips and tricks I have learned throughout my four years of high school on how to do well on the AP exams.


AP exams are typically held in May, several weeks before Summer Break begins.  They consist of two sections: one of multiple choice problems and another section of writing. The multiple choice section typically has test takers analyze a passage and draw conclusions from it, then decide which answer choice best fits that conclusion. These passages can include everything from sections of mathematical inference questions to lengthy important historical documents. The writing section can take many formats, including everything from short answer questions (SAQs) to longer free response questions (FRQs).


The first and most important thing you can do in order to be successful on the AP test is to master the subject material of the course. You can do this the old fashioned way by spending hours peering through class textbooks or with modern methods such as Quizlet, which allows yourself to make your own study guides. Don’t wait until the last minute to do this; you should ideally be studying a couple of months in advance, although this can be hard to do with modern high school students having to balance so many things in their lives. Ensuring you know everything there’s to know about the subject material will ensure that you can at least do well on the multiple choice section.


The writing section is much more difficult. Even if you know the subject material backwards and forwards, graders will want answers written in a certain way or else they will deduct points. Thus, make sure to figure out what writing response formats will be given on the tests (your teacher should announce this in advance) and familiarize yourself with them. Write several practice essays using the formats and memorize the outline of the format type so you can easily remember it when writing your essay. As for when you are actually writing your response, ensure that your handwriting is neat and legible. It will be graded by teachers who will have to go through hundreds of tests, so for both their sake and your grade, you want to keep it easy to read.


This is just some advice on what to expect for AP test season, and some of my tips on how to do your best so that you can get a head start in college.