If you’ve already made it through any AP exams, bravo!

If you’ve got more AP exams coming up, take a deep breath and know that they’ll be over soon (which also means that summer’s just around the corner!).

AP exam prep can be intensive, and depending on how long you’ve studied and how many exams you have on your plate, you may be a little overwhelmed right now. Here are a few last minute AP exam prep tips to get you in the right mental space so you can ace your test(s). And really, these are just good guidelines when you’re preparing for any test!

#1 – Rest and recharge

AP exams (and AP exam prep) can feel like a marathon, and when you’re training for any marathon, you need more rest than usual.

The night before each AP exam, make sure you go to bed as early as possible (easier said than done, we realize) so that you show up for exams with energy and clarity. As hard as it may be, try to avoid any “screen time” for at least an hour before bed, to let your mind properly wind down and recharge for the next day. There are countless studies out there suggesting that screen time before bed throws off your internal clock, making it difficult to get substantial, restorative sleep.

Less restful sleep = a foggier brain during exams.

On the morning of your AP exam(s), make sure to hydrate well and eat a healthy breakfast, especially if you have more than one exam scheduled on a given day. AP exams typically run 2-3 hours, so you’ll want to make sure you’re properly nourished.

And if you have two AP exams back to back (a morning and afternoon session), make sure to rest and recharge between exams. You may only have about an hour between your tests, so try to keep your mind calm during this time. Listen to soothing music, eat a healthy snack, meditate—whatever helps clear your mind for your next test.

We don’t recommend studying at all during this time, or focusing on the last test you took and stressing about how you did on it. Instead, center yourself and move forward confidently to the next one!

#2 – Study Selectively (but don’t cram!)

Perhaps the most important AP exam prep tip we can give you is to avoid cramming. “Cramming” for an exam involves reviewing and trying to memorize a large amount of information last minute. There are many reasons why cramming doesn’t work but the gist is that your brain simply doesn’t process mass amounts of information at once. Many students admit to cramming for exams and then blanking on the information once they’re actually taking a test.

So the point is, in the short amount of time you have before exams, your time is better spent resting than cramming. If you don’t know the information now, it’s very unlikely you’ll now learn it in one sitting.

That said, a few hours of strategic AP exam prep can be worthwhile. The trick is to make sure you’re only studying “bite-sized” amounts of information, specifically focusing on areas of weakness you’ve already identified. Is there a particular grammar error you consistently make? Do you always forget the name of a particular biological process? Review those tidbits. When you choose 1-5 small pieces of information to zero in on for each AP exam, you’re much more likely to retain the information during the exam.

#3 – Familiarize yourself with the format

If you’ve been preparing for AP exams in and outside of class all semester or year, this AP exam prep tip may sound unnecessary. You probably already know the exam format, right?

Each AP exam is structured a bit differently though, so especially if you have more than one exam to take, it can’t hurt to go back over the exact parameters and format for each AP exam.

The AP Art History exam, for example, consists of 8 sets of questions directly related to color images, 35 multiple choice questions, two 30-minute essay questions, and four 15-minute essay questions. That’s a lot going on in one exam! Just glancing over the exam format can help you avoid any panic while taking the test. A good way to do this is to look over any previous AP practice tests you’ve taken.

#4 – Advocate for yourself

It can be really challenging to juggle both AP exam prep and regular homework during AP exam weeks. Because AP exams are so rigorous‒and because college credit earned is determined by your performance on them—it may behoove you to ask your teachers for any necessary extensions on homework or projects during this time.  

If you have a full schedule and are taking multiple exams, you might feel like you’re facing an insurmountable heap of work right now. Most teachers stay pretty flexible during AP exam time, but if you’re feeling flooded, touch base with them to see if they have any advice or if there’s anything you can push back for the moment. Remember that advocating for yourself means being proactive—talking to your teachers sooner rather than later. Don’t wait until after AP exams are over to explain why you didn’t complete any homework.

#5 – Try Scholly Math to brush up on math!

If you’re taking any of the math-requiring exams (specifically Calculus AB or Calculus BC), review some practice questions beforehand using Scholly Math, our new AI-powered math tool. With this app, you can take a photo of any math problem and you’ll receive step-by-step instructions for how to get the answer. This can be very helpful to prepare for your AP exams, since you’ll have to show your work on exams.

Remember what we said above about selectively studying though—make sure to focus on just a couple of the problem types that tend to trip you up.

Good luck and happy studying!

Make sure to check out the NEW Scholly Platform, which has evolved into the ultimate, comprehensive student success platform, including Scholly Search (a scholarship matching engine), Scholly Editor (a proofreading app and also a great way to review grammar and style), and Scholly Math!