Best Review - Top 10 Ways to Get a 5 or a 4 on an AP Exam


any students elect to take AP examinations in hopes of getting college credits. However, with rigorous courses such as AP Chemistry and AP US History, lots of high schoolers either don't know how to go about studying for such a test, or don't study well enough and miss out on the opportunity of college credits. With May just a few months away, kids are scrambling to review coursework from the first semester as well as stay on top of current assignments, as well as other AP classes they may be taking.
With money on the line (the tests cost about $92 each currently!) and a potential way to save on college tuition, acing this exam is of utmost importance for students. If you take a few precautions, plan accordingly, and work hard, a 4 or a 5 is certain to come your way.

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Top 1

Review AP credit guidelines for your school of choice

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Different colleges have different policies for what they can consider as a credit and what they cannot. Some schools don't even accept any credits, regardless of your score! This is especially the case with private and Ivy League schools, so if there are your choices AP testing may not be a good investment. Otherwise, most state schools will accept credits. The number of hours you receive depend on both the school's policy and your score, so scoring as high as possible is beneficial. Most schools will not accept anything under a 3 or 4, and some subjects, like AP Biology, need a 5 in order to get credits. Be sure you know these numbers so you can know how much time and energy to invest in each test you're taking.

Top 2

Familiarize yourself with the structure of the test

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Does it have an audio section? Essays? Short answer or compare and contrast? What will you need to bring to the testing room? It may seem obvious, but many students go into tests "blind" and end up coming across some unwelcome surprises. Knowing the format of the test can help you understand what exactly you need to study. This information can be found on the College Board website as well as on teacher's websites, educational websites, and many teachers at school have handouts covering this subject.

Top 3

Look into getting a study guide

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While it's not necessarily required to ace the test, having study guides can be of great help to you. Unfortunately, these often cost money but you can look at a used bookstore or at Amazon's used books section for reduced prices. The most popular publishing company for these books is the Princeton Review, however there are other good publications. You should research before buying the book. There are free pdf files of study guides on the internet, but these tend to be less comprehensive than ones you have to pay for.

Top 4

Know your coursework

Knowing is half the battle, and it should go without saying that you should understand the material before going into the test. This means studying the textbook or worksheets that you receive in class. Many students fail to utilize their textbooks which are often loaned to them for free. They are great resources and you won't find a more comprehensive study of the subject anywhere else. Learn how to study to your learning ability and use online resources, quizzes in the book, and other resources you come across. Regularly test yourself on the material and review older units regularly.

Top 5

Take practice tests

Many schools will now offer a mock AP test for free. Definitely take this opportunity; it can be a wonderful diagnostic tool and you'll be able to really find out what the test is like and what you really need to study. Study guides also tend to contain practice tests, and the College Board has released older versions of the tests for all to use on their website. Testing yourself is easily the best and most efficient way to study.

Top 6

Form a study group

Study groups are an excellent way of studying because it allows you to bounce thoughts and ideas off of each other in a group environment. We tend to remember what we say, especially if it is in a social setting. Having people to teach and learn from is a good way to retain material.

Top 7

Study regularly

Depending on how many AP tests you plan on taking, you'll need to carve out some time each week to study for the test. At least 2 hours a week for each test is best, but if you have to adjust times, do what works for you. Take advantage of study halls, down time during class, and other spare moments you may have during the day.

Top 8

Stop cramming or learning new material a week before the test

Chances are, anything you learn right before the test won't stick, and you'll feel a bit foggy on other things. At least a week before the test, only focus on reviewing what you do know. If you can get strong in several areas, you'll make up for the one unit or chapter you aren't so sure of. For these things, it's best to just guess and move on.

Top 9

Prepare the night/morning before

The night before the test, put away all electronics two hours before you plan on sleeping. Only review the material and then write, draw, read, or just go straight to sleep. The next morning, eat a decent breakfast, but don't go too far out of your normal bounds. Try to come into the test with an attitude of confidence.

Top 10


It's normal to get test anxiety, but don't second guess yourself or worry too much. Just review your materials and strategies and you'll be fine.

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If you follow through with these 10 tips, then you're set to get a 4 or a 5 on that dreaded day. Just remember these tips, as well as general test taking strategies, then you're good to go!

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